Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami - war musings

Some number crunching... on the tsunami and the war

$147 000 000 000 - spent on war in Iraq (147 billion)

17000 - rough number of Iraqis killed

....translates to roughly $8 647 058 spent to kill each Iraqi (~8.6 million). Even subtracting 30 billion that may be spent on reconstruction we are spending approximately 6 million dollars to kill each hapless Iraqis...


Number of people who have died in the tsunami 145,000

Amount pledged thus far by our country : $15 000 000

....translates to roughly $103 spent to help the families of each person killed as a result of the tsunami

I am sure that we are going to do amazing work in helping the governments of the tsunami ravaged nations, but when you see stats of this sort, this surely makes you think that some of our priorities are really focussed on the wrong things...
We should all be aware of what we have signed up for when we do our taxes in two months time...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Wearing your religion on your sleeve

One of the unintended consequences that came out of Karl-Rove-engineered-Bush-victory is that the religious right now think that it is about time to do whatever suits their fancy. They are beginning to look to this election mandate as a divine firman to spread the word of God in whatever form that suits their agendas.
Today it has taken a turn for the freakish. We have judges (Alabama Circuit Court Judge Ashley McKathan) wearing the ten commandments on their robes while presiding over their respective court cases. I know that this is a touchy subject but when Mr. Bush had talked about activist judges and their pronouncements on gay marriage, he should also know and realize that this is a case of just another activist judge deciding to take religion into the court room and flaunt it openly.
I do not think that this is a good trend for this great country.

The next big phone company !!!

Here is a prediction... albeit a outlandish one
The next big telephone company is quietly sitting in the corner... and the name is Microsoft.
Yep, you heard it right. It is the giant that is slowly invading all of our lives. Initially it was relegated to that corner in your house where it did not seem unsightly to have a lot of wires poking out and where you could connect to the Internet. Now they have designs on your living and family rooms (when they plan on coming out with the a correct version of Media center… - experience tells me that they need three tries to get anything right)

I predict that the next move by this behemoth is to simply include phone connection software into the Windows product as a default offering and voila - you have it. With an installed base of about 75% of all PC in the United States using one variant of Windows operating system and with about 50% of them having access to some connection to the Internet the day is not faraway when the 'initially free' phone software that uses the Internet to carry out calls makes its debut on millions of PCs all over America.

Again I predict that Microsoft will use its captive power over the customers who have been tied into the operating system to simply start using the phone system 'warts and all' like they have shoved all of the other Microsoft products.
It does not end here. The FCC is championing a cause to give up spectrum over the wireless radio spaces such that you and me will be able to roam around on our laptops and surf the net at broadband speeds. With the Microsoft phone software they will be happily married into this turn of events making them a competitor in the cellular space also… (6-8 years down the line)
Of course all this is theory at this point, but then Internet Explorer (the web browser) was also theory at some point (dominated by large market leaders like Netscape who were erased out of the marketplace by this giant).

By the way if you are investing in stocks sometime in the near future a good place to invest will be as follows:
A) Companies that make equipment for routing broadband based telephone calls over the Internet.
B) Companies that make equipment for routing broadband wireless Internet connectivity for travelers on the move (those who would like to avoid the inconvenience of having to stop over at a 'hot-spot' every time they need to connect to the net..)
This is the future.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Presidential Medal of Fiefdom

Today Mr. George W. Bush announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
I would like to get some facts straight.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States.
It was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to honor service during WWII. President John F. Kennedy revived the medal and began the tradition of awarding the medal annually, on or near July 4. The award is awarded to several people annually. Unlike many other US awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom can be awarded to non-US citizens.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to
cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Some of the stalwarts who have received this medal are as follows:
Katherine Hepburn (was a tireless campaigner for UNICEF), Lady Bird Johnson (beautified the nation's highways), Doris Day, Bob Hope, Cesar Chavez, David Brinkley, NY Fire Department Rev. Mychal Judge, Walter Wriston, Beverly Sills, Arnold Palmer, Estee Lauder, Paul Nitze, Pope John Paul II, National Geographic Chairman Gilbert Grosvenor, Douglas MacArthur, Billy Graham.

I cannot for the life of me understand how L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer III, General Tommy Franks, and CIA Director George Tenet fall into the august category above...

Monday, December 13, 2004

Falling dollar may not be the best thing for us…

I keep reading that a falling dollar may be the best thing for us..
Here is alternative viewpoint… and the frightening thing is that it could well turn out to be true (especially in light of our growing interdependence on the global economy as opposed to the measured steps that other countries take in their steps towards integrating their economies towards the global economy).
For many years the United States has been the biggest champion of an interconnected open global trade. Now I fear that if the current administration does not take the right steps, the 'let-the-dollar-find-its-own-level' policy might come back to kick us in the behind…

There are two big problems with a low-dollar strategy for turning around the deficits.

The first problem with the low-dollar strategy is that it no longer works. During the high-dollar Clinton years, America’s trade deficit was far smaller than it has been during the low-dollar Bush years. Even in the 1980’s, under the so-called Plaza Accords, which brought the dollar down, the deficits did not go away. US trade and current account deficits shrink when other countries grow rapidly – especially in Europe -- not when the dollar declines.

The second problem with the low-dollar strategy is that the US economy functions globally, not as the world’s producer of last resort, but as the world’s consumer of last resort. When Europe and Asia are in a slump, they are pulled out of their doldrums by the insatiable appetite of the American consumer.

Look who is not transparent

The Kurtzman group publishes an "Opacity Index" in which high ratings suggest poor governance, widespread corruption and non-transparent legal systems. It is interesting to note that China and Russia are the biggest offenders of them all.

Sun Tzu said…

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.

I thought only we harbored thoughts of global domination. It sure looks like China has an alternative strategy of its own… Given the recent advances on the Long March rocket front and the advances made on the submarine front it may not be far off when we have new world order (a bipolar world where China and the United States are competing superpowers) that could fundamentally be the same as the world order that we had about 20 years back (when U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. sparred for the world spoils) ….

With its new economic resources China has embarked upon a military traverse from reliance upon mass to devotion to quality, with stress upon war in space, the oceans, and the ether--three areas of unquestioned American superiority. China is establishing its own space- based assets and developing the means to counter others. It would neutralize American strategic superiority as the aging U.S. arsenal is reduced and it augments its own. Its submarine program is directed to the deployment of its strategic force and denial of successively greater bands of the Pacific--eventually reaching far out into blue water--to the safe transit of American fleets. It sees America's advantage in informational warfare both as something to be copied and as a weak link that, by countermeasure, can be shattered. In short, it harbors major ambitions.

Read on...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

At the risk of sounding sappy...

Just when you think that we are losing ourselves by our march towards mass consumerism and crass excesses that
come as a default by-product of capitalism then you find stories like these that uplift you and bring back a sense of the old
world charm when divorces were uncommon and people really loved each other...I have copied the story here completely just so that we do not lose the link when the website is updated (Courtesy the Macon

Posted on Sun, Dec. 12, 2004 Marine Chooses Wedding Ring Over Finger
Associated Press
VICTORVILLE, Calif. - When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger or the
wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq to cut off the finger.
The 19-year-old former high school football star suffered a mangled left hand and serious wounds to his legs in a Nov. 13
fire fight in Fallujah. Battle, who is recovering at his parents' home in this desert city 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles,
came under attack as he and fellow Marines entered a building. Eleven other Marines were wounded.
Doctors were preparing to cut off Battle's ring to save as much of his finger as they could.
"But that would mean destroying my wedding ring," he said. "My wife is the strongest woman I know. She's basically running
two people's lives since I've been gone. I don't think I could ever repay her or show her how grateful ... how much I love my
wife, my soul mate."
With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring.
Although Battle was disappointed, his wife, Devon, said she was honored.
"I can't believe he did that," she said. "At first I was mad when he told me, but then I realized how lucky I am to have him
in my life."
The couple, who met in the eighth grade, were married in June, just two weeks before Battle left for Iraq. He hopes to
eventually return to the Marines, and to replace his wedding ring, but that will have to wait until he recovers.
In the meanwhile, Battle's high school has planned a banquet in his honor next week.
"We need to make more David Battles," said Daniel Pierce, the school's assistant head coach. "He is one amazing guy."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Blogging from an external email

Test blog from an email address. (You've got to love technology ;-)... or lets say you've got to love the folks at Google.

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail - You care about security. So do we.

Thinkpad castrated ;-(

Heard the other day that Lenovo is buying over the laptop division of IBM.
One more icon of American manufacturing/technology falls into a "Made in China" category... Not too sure how many of us will want to buy a Thinkpad anymore. I do not mean to sound xenophobic here but there are some symbols of classic Americanisms that just should not be outsourced... and I think that this is one of them.
Many of you might counter that even at this point about 80% of a Thinkpad is done outside America... but there definitely a difference between having the laptop assembled and come off the lines here at IBM USA (think quality, innovation and better design) as opposed to the laptop come off lines in some obscure Chinese province...


The first time that I ordered a take-out from a Chinese restaurant, I was fascinated by the fortune cookie. I still remember opening it gingerly lest pieces of the cookie fall off and I be deprived of the cookie for my consumption.
I also remember reading the messages that come with each meal. I have seen some good ones and lots of really horrible ones. I have since graduated from eating the cookie to 'reading' the insides of the cookie…
The one message that seems to have stuck on me for the longest time was the following:
"May you live in interesting times… "
The phrase itself is of non-Chinese creation, most probably American, that has been around for at least 30 or 40 years.
It appears pretty much everywhere nowadays ... as an eye-catcher. I speculate that whoever it was who first coined it attempted to give the expression a mystique, and so decided to attribute it to the Chinese.
With the advent of all pervading information all around us I must say that whether we like it or not we do live in interesting times….
Every once in a while the information that comes out of these 'interesting times' is so intense that we think about it and mull it over in our heads and reflect on whether this could be a sign of the times that we live in...
Every once in a while, I have an urge to pass on some of this information to my fellow friends out there and I have found out that putting up my random thoughts in a web log seems like a rational first step. Well, so much for introductions, lets get on with the log...