Monday, December 28, 2009

Excerpts from Butter chicken in Ludhiana-- Punkaj Mishra

' You know what Nehru said? He said what is wrong with corruption if the money doesn't go out of the country. Now, people call Harshad Mehta a corrupt person. Why is he corrupt? Because he made a lot of money? But did the money go out of India? No, it stayed here. I think he is a genius. My son-he's doing MBA; he is very ambitioius- he says Harshad Mehta has inspired him. He says on thing. He says: Can other people make so much money in same time? I say even if he is corrupt, he is inspiring younger people.' pg 126

So, What is the national bird of Khalistan? they asked.
The answer was preceded by a fit of giggling. Then abruptly , he shouted : BUTTER CHICKEN !'

There was a little pause, and then his companions burst out laughing. They laughed helplessly; they pushed their chair back from the table to accommodate their shaking paunches; they clapped their hands and banged their fists hard on the table; later at night, they were retelling the joke to the hotel staff and still laughing. It obviously takes very little to makes some people happy. pg 235

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hock the house?

Hocking the house for quick cash is a lot harder than it used to be, and it's causing headaches for homeowners, banks and the economy.

During the housing boom, millions of people borrowed against the value of their homes to remodel kitchens, finish basements, pay off credit cards, buy TVs or cars, and finance educations. Banks encouraged the borrowing, touting in ads how easy it is to unlock the cash in their homes to "live richly" and "seize your someday."

Now, the days of tapping your house for easy money have gone the way of soaring home prices. A quarter of all homeowners are ineligible for home equity loans because they owe more on their mortgage than what the house is worth. Those who have equity in their homes are finding banks far more stingy. Many with home-equity loans are seeing their credit limits reduced dramatically.

The sharp pullback is dragging on the economy, household budgets and banks' books. And it's another sign that the consumer spending binge that powered the economy through most of the decade is unlikely to return anytime soon.

At the peak of the housing boom in 2006, banks made $430 billion in home equity loans and lines of credit, according to the trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance. From 2002 to 2006, such lending was equal to 2.8 percent of the nation's economic activity, according to a study by finance professors Atif Mian and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago.

For the first nine months of 2009, only $40 billion in new home equity loans were made. The impact on the economy: close to zero.

"The home as ATM is yesterday," says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates Financial Publishers, which publishes consumer loan information.

Millions of homeowners borrowed from the house to improve their standard of living. Now, unable to count on rising home values to absorb more borrowing, indebted homeowners are feeling anything but wealthy.

Holly Scribner, 34, and her husband took out a $20,000 home equity loan in mid-2007 — just as the housing market began its swoon. They used the money to replace sinks and faucets, paint, buy a snow blower and make other improvements to their home in Nashua, N.H.

The $200 monthly payment was easy until property taxes jumped $200 a month, the basement flooded (causing $20,000 in damage) and the family ran into other financial difficulties as the recession took hold. Their home's value fell from $279,000 to $180,000. They could no longer afford to make payments on either their first $200,000 mortgage or the home equity loan.

Scribner, who is a stay-at-home mom with three children, avoided foreclosure by striking a deal with the first mortgage lender, HSBC, which agreed to modify their loan and reduce payments from $1,900 a month to $1,100 a month. The home equity lender, Ditech, refused to negotiate. Scribner's husband, Scott, works at an auto loan financing company but is looking for a second job to supplement the family's income.

The family is still having trouble making regular payments on the home-equity loan. The latest was for $100 in November.

"It was a huge mess. I ruined my credit," Holly Scribner says. "We did everything right, we thought, and we ended up in a bad situation."

It's a mess for the banking industry, too.

Home equity lending gained popularity after 1986, the year Congress eliminated the tax deduction for interest on credit card debt but preserved deductions on interest for home equity loans and lines of credit. Homeowners realized it was easier or cheaper to tap their home equity for cash than to use money taken from savings accounts, mutual funds or personal loans to fund home improvements.

Banks made plenty of money issuing these loans. Home equity borrowers pay many of the costs associated with buying a home. They also may have to pay annual membership fees, account maintenance fees and transaction fees each time a credit line is tapped.

In 1990, the overall outstanding balance on home equity loans was $215 billion. In 2007, it peaked at $1.13 trillion. For the first nine months of 2009, it's at $1.05 trillion, the Federal Reserve said. Today, there are more than 20 million outstanding home equity loans and lines of credit, according to First American CoreLogic.

But delinquencies are rising, hitting record highs in the second quarter. About 4 percent of home equity loans were delinquent, and nearly 2 percent of credit lines were 30 days or more overdue, according to the most recent data available from the American Bankers Association.

A rise in home-equity defaults can be particularly painful for a bank. That's because the primary mortgage lender is first in line to get repaid after the home is sold through foreclosure. Often, the home-equity lender is left with little or nothing.

Banks are applying the brakes.

Bank of America, for example made about $10.4 billion in home equity loans in the first nine months of the year — down 70 percent from the same period last year, spokesman Rick Simon says. The also started sending letters freezing or cutting lines of credit last year, and will disqualify borrowers in areas where home prices are declining.

"This was just solid risk management," he says.

Jeffrey Yellin is in the middle of remodeling his kitchen, dining room, living room and garage at his home in Oak Park, Calif. He planned to pay for the project with his $200,000 home equity line of credit, which he took out in January 2007 when his house was valued at $750,000.

In October, his lender, Wells Fargo, sent a letter informing him that his credit line was being cut to $110,000 because his home's value had fallen by $168,000, according to the bank.

He is suing the bank, alleging it used unfair standards to justify its reduction, incorrectly assessed the property value, failed to inform customers promptly and used an appeals process that is "oppressive." Jay Edelson, a lawyer in Chicago who is representing Yellin, says homeowners are increasingly challenging such letters in court. He says he's received 500 calls from upset borrowers.

Wells Fargo declined to comment on Yellin's lawsuit but said it reviews of customers' home equity lines of credit to make sure that account limits are in line with the borrowers' ability to repay and the value of their homes.

"We do sometimes change our decisions when the customer provides sufficient additional information," Wells Fargo spokeswoman Mary Berg said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

Work has stopped at the Yellin's home. The backyard, used as a staging area for the remodeling job, is packed with materials and equipment.

"Now, I've got a backyard that looks like 'Sanford and Son' almost," he says.

Quote of the day: Stock Market

One of the frustrating things for people who miss the first rally in the bull market is that they wait for the big correction and it never comes. The market keeps climbing and climbing. It feeds on itself in frenzied fashion and propels prices considerably higher for 6 months or so and sometimes longer.

Martin Zweig

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care

Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care
Version imprimable

Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care

The future of Europe and the world must be thought from the question of the psycho-power characteristic of control societies, and whose effects have become massive and destructive. Psycho-power is the systematic organisation of the capture of attentioni made possible by the psycho-technologies that have developed with the radio (1920), with television (1950) and with digital technologies (1990), spreading all over the planet through various forms of networks, and resulting in a constant industrial canalization of attention which has provoked recently a massive phenomenon of the destruction of this attention that American nosologists call attention deficit disorder. This destruction of attention is a particular case, and especially serious one, of the destruction of libidinal energy whereby the capitalist libidinal economy self-destructs.

Attention is the reality of individuationi in Gilbert Simondon’s sense of the terms: insofar as it is always both psychical and collective. Attention, which is the mental faculty of concentrating on an object, that is, of giving oneself an object, is also the social faculty of taking care of this object – as of another, or as the representative of another, as the object of the other: attention is also the name of civility as it is founded on philia, that is, on socialised libidinal energy. This is why the destruction of attention is both the destruction of the psychical apparatus and the destruction of the social apparatus (formed by collective individuation) to the extent that the later constitutes of system of care, given that to pay attention is also to take care. (It is also to watch out, which is taken up in the emphasis I will put on destruction.) Such a system of care is also a libidinal economy, wherein a psychical apparatus and a social apparatus hook up, whose destruction today is engendered by technological apparatuses. And we will see that they are in fact psychotechnological and sociotechnolgical apparatuses. In other words, we are confronted with a question stemming from what I call a general organology.

The major stake of attention deficit disorder and of everything stemming from the destructive effects of the exploitation of attention by psychopower is therefore the fragilisation of the infantile psychic apparatus and of sociability founded on philia. Now, this precocious liquidation of libidinal economy is also what destroys the industrial capitalism of investment: the organ of psychopower is marketing as the arm of a financialised capitalism become essentially speculative.


The gigantic financial crisis sending tremors all over the world is the disastrous result of the hegemony of the short term of which the destruction of attention is at once effect and cause. The loss of attention is a loss of capacities of projection into the long term (that is, of investment in objects of desire) which systemically effects the psychic apparatuses of consumers manipulated by psychopower as well as the manipulators themselves: the speculator is typically the person who pay no attention to the objects of his speculation, and who takes no care of them either.

The act of the speculator has effects on the multitude of consciousnesses that undergo, directly or indirectly, the effects of his speculation through the psychotechnological devices of attention capture. These consciousnesses are thus always a little more enclosed in the default of attention and care, that is, in the short term, which justifies a posteriori the act of the speculator: this act is performative in the sense Jean-François Lyotard lends to it in The Postmodern Condition. This is how a system of the short term gets established, along with the vicious circle of the destruction of attention.

This is the context in which the colossal environmental crisis rages on, having been promoted to first place in the world’s concerns (Besorgen) and the attention (Sorge) by the Nobel Academy, and whereby what is discovered and planetarily recognized as what I will later analyse as the third limit of capitalism, after the tendential drop in profit margins and the tendential drop in libidinal energy (resulting directly from the destruction of attention). Tendancielle

It is in this context of an environmental crisis which suddenly posits as self-evident the necessity of beginning all over again to reason on a long term basis, that is, to re-elaborate a politics of investment, precisely at a time when an enormous financial crisis emerges through which the calamity of speculative and short term organisation induced by the financiarization which destroys attention, is revealed, that new operations of spectacular industrial concentrations are either effectuated or in preparation, thus for example the OPA by Microsoft on Yahoo, and the decision by Google to invest the terrain of the cell phone network.

The objective of these operations is to gain control over the social networks, designating the digital networks wherein new types of the capture and formation of psychical as well as collective attention are revealed: it is a new age of reticulation that is being implemented, and it constitutes a new stage of what I have described as a process of grammatisationi. At this stage, it is the mechanisms of transindividuationi that are grammatised, that is, formalised, reproductible, and thus calculable and automatable. Now, transindividuation is the way psychical individuations are meta-stablized as collective individuation: transindividuation is the operation of the fully effective socialization of the psychical.

With the social networks the question of attentional technologies becomes manifestly and explicitly the question of the technologies of transindividuation. The latter is henceforth formalised by the technologies of psychical individuation originally conceived in view of ending up with a collective individuation, where Simondon’s analysis posing that psychical individuation is also and in the same stroke collective individuation receives spectacular and organalogical confirmation. It is a matter of technologies of indexation, annotation, tags and modelised traces (M-traces), wiki technologies and collaborative technologies in general.

Here a reading of Foucault is especially necessary and promising: Foucault also showed that the techniques of the self, as techniques of psychical organisation, are always already techniques of collective organisation – which he demonstrates in his analysis of the correspondence of Seneca with Lucilius. On the other hand, Foucault did not see coming the question of psychopower, whereby marketing, from the emergence of the programme industries, transforms the psychotechniques of the self and of psychic individuation into industrial psychotechnologies of transindividuation, that is, into psychotechnologies threaded by networks, and as the organisation of an industrial reticulation of transindividuation that short-circuits traditional and institutional social networks.[1] After having destroyed the traditional social networks, the psychotechnologies become socialtechnologies, and they tend to become a new milieui and a new reticular condition of transindividuation grammatising new forms of social relations.

In order to analyse these facts, which constitute the specific context on the basis of which it is necessary and possible to think a future for Europe and the world, we must return to the question of knowing what attention is. Psychical and collective individuation is essentially what forms attention insofar it the latter is necessarily both psychical and social, and attention is what results from the relation holding between retentions and protentions in the sense Husserl gives to these terms (Husserl naming intentional consciousness what I am calling attention). Now, this relation of retentions and protentions whose result is attention is always mediated by tertiary retentions – of which psychotechnologies and sociotechnologies are instances.

We must speak of tertiary retentions if we are to complete the analysis in which Husserl distinguishes between primary and secondary retentions. Primary retention is, for example, what happens when you listen to me speaking and, applying the verb I use to the subject preceding it, a subject you no longer perceive, you maintain this subject in the verb, which constitutes the maintenance/presence of my discourse which is also what maintains your attention: you conjugate the subject to the verb, with a view to projecting this action designated by the verb toward its complement, projection which is a protention, that is, an expectation.

What Husserl calls primary retention is this operation consisting of retaining a word in another (operation that Husserl analyses by studying the way in a melody a note maintains in itself the preceding one, and projects forward the expectation of another note – Leonard Meyer describes this as an expectation: it is the operation consisting in retaining a word which however is no longer present, the beginning of the sentence having been pronounced and in this respect already past, and yet still present in the sense that is thus elaborated as discourse.

We must distinguish the operation we are calling primary retention from secondary retention. The latter is a memory: something that belongs to a past having passed by (it is thus a former primary retention), whereas the primary retention still belongs to the present, to a passing present: it is the passage itself, per se, and in this respect the direction of the present – its sense in the sense of direction as well. Now, the secondary memory is also what permits us to select possibilities from the stock of primary retentions: primary retention is a primary selection whose criteria are furnished by the secondary retentions.

You are listening to me, but each one of you hears something different in what I say, and this is owing to the fact that your secondary retentions are singular ones: your pasts are singular ones. In the same stroke, your apprehension of what I say is each time singular: the meaning that you assign to my discourse, whereby you individualise yourself with my discourse, is each time singular – and this is the case because you select each time singularly primary retentions in the discourse I am giving for you, and through which I am trying to retain and to maintain your attention.

However, if you could, now, repeat the whole discourse that you have just heard, for example because you had recorded it on a USB key in a MP3 format, you could effect, obviously new primary retentions, depending on previous primary retentions, become in the meantime secondary retentions. You would thus call into question the meaning of this discourse already constituted by yourself: your would produce a difference in meaning on the basis of this repetition, through which this meaning would moreover reveal itself as a process much more than a state, et more precisely, the process of your own individuation hooking up with the individuation that this discourse exemplifies, which is, in this case, my own individuation. You would thus form retentional circuits – which I do not have the time to explain why they are at the heart of what must be conceptualised as circuits of transindividuation.

Be that as it may, that which allows such a discourse to be repeated, for example in the form of a recording in the MP3 format, is a tertiary retention with the same status as the text I am now reading for you, which allows me to repeat a discourse that I conceived elsewhere, and at another previous time: this is what Plato called a hypomnesic pharmakoni. Such a pharmakon allows the production of attentional effects, that is, retentional and protentional hook-ups, whose existence entirely justifies the definition of this pharmakon as a psychotechnical device. Such a device allows, to be more precise, the control of rentional and protentional hook-ups in view of producing attentional effects.

Such effects are also those that Husserl analysed as the condition of the origin of geometry – where writing is what allows the formation of types of rational primary and secondary retentions, through which the long circuits of transindividuation are formed, as well as those that Plato denounces in the Phaedo (?) or in Gorgias as that which allows the short-circuiting of the anamnesic work of thought through the intermediary of terniary and hypomnesic retentions.

Tertiary retentions are therefore mnemotechnical forms of the exteriorisation of psychical life constituting organised traces into retentional devices (of which the devices described in The Order of things, The Archaeology of knowledge or Discipline and punish are cases) that characterise the systems of care, as therapeutic systems whose retentional devices are the pharmacological basis.[2]

Now, retentional devices constitute themselves in a new distributed organisation which in fact represents a major break with the former organisation of industrial society – and which is the subject of a recent book by Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thatcher, Exploit. I would now like to show that this break is a meeting of the ways faced with which a new industrial politics must make choices, drawing the consequences of these mutations, on the basis of which a new issue out of the hyperindustrial world could present itself. But I must first of all specify why this break, which is both an opportunity and a new danger (it is induced by a new pharmakon), emerges at a moment when capitalism runs up against three limits.

It was at the end of the 19th century and at the end of the 20th century that capitalism met with its first two limits:

The industrial revolution, as the implementation of the capitalist system of production, is the pursuit of the process of grammatisation whereby and wherein tertiary retentions are formed, to which the psychotechiques belong – by apparatuses of the control of gestures which allow, as machine-tools, the liquidation of the know-how of works, and, from there, the realisation of immense gains in productivity, and the development of a new prosperity which however encounters, besides the misery it engenders in the form of the proletariat, the limit analysed by Marx as the tendenciel drop in the rate of profit.

To fight against this limit of capitalist development, the American way of life invented the figure of the consumer whose libidoi is systematically put to work to counter the problems of excess production, which is the social concretisation of this tendential drop in the rate of profit. This canalisation of the libido operated by the capture of attention ends up by liquidating the expertise in living [savoir-vivre] of consumers, by the massive development of societies of services which let them off the hook of their own existences, that is, of their diverse responsibilities as adults having reached their majority. This is what ends up provoking the liquidation of their own desire, as well as the desire of their own children, to the strict extent that the latter can no longer identify with them, both because these parents no longer know anything, and are no longer responsible for anything, having become themselves big fat children, and because the process of primary identification is short-circuited by psychopower through the psychotechnologies. This destruction of desire (that is to say also the destruction of attention and of care) is a new limit encountered by capitalism, this time not only as mode of production, but also as mode of consumption, way of life, that is, as biopower become psychopower.

3) A third limit henceforth imposes itself on our attention. It consists in the fact that the development of the industrial way of life, inherited from the 19th and 20th centuries, has become not only toxic on the level of minds and of libido, but also on the geophysical and biological level. This third limit will not be able to be raised or effaced before the invention of a mode of life constitutive of a new way of taking care and of paying attention to/of the world by the invention of therapeutics: techniques, technologies and socio-pharmacological apparatuses of the formation of attention corresponding to the organological specificities of our time: to the specificities of the technologies of transindividuation forming the infrastructure of an industrial system itself functioning in an endogenous way as a system of care: making care its “chain of value” that is, its economy, and thereby renewing with the original sense of the word economy, for to economise is to take care.

Western societies, in the sway of the exportation of technologies issuing from their mode of production, have engendered industrial competitors (on whom Paul Valéry was already meditating as to their consequences to come) by a movement of financiarisation that could do nothing but cause a global economic war. In this new form of war, the stakes are a defense of society no longer as an enemy, exterior or interior, but against a process that ruins time, that is, the horizon of the long term, and the possibility of projecting this horizon in giving oneself objects of desire. This process spins out of control at this precise moment when the effects of the three limits of capitalism combine.

Global competition fired up by financiarisation has ended up in the destruction of the complex equilibrium that allowed that capitalism’s development also be the social development of industrial democraties by the Keynesian organisation of the redistribution of wealth under the authority of a welfare State, and it is in the context of the economic war which resulted that marketing has become, as Gilles Deleuze put it, “the instrument of social control” in the societies of control, and that the drop in libidinal energy suddenly got worse.

Thus, on the side of consumption, the capitalist mode of life has become at the end of the 20th century an addictive process less and less capable of finding sustainable satisfactions – this has induced great discontent in the civilisation of consumption, which has replaced culture, that is, care, if we accept that culture precedes cults of all types, that is, attachments to objects whose ensemble constitutes a system of care. It is in this context that Jenny Uechi could write in Abdusters that

According to surveys conducted recently by the sociologist Juliet Schor, 81% of Americans estimate that their country is too centered on consumption and almost 90% of them consider that it is too materialistic.

We all know that in no case will this new global capitalism be able to develop in reproducing the modes of production and consumption that have been characteristic of Western, Japanese and Korean industrial democracies. For the exportation of this mode of life is also that of the growth in the rate of production of toxins of all sorts toward the greatest part of the planetary population, and which can result in nothing else but the disappearance of the human race – to say nothing of the phenomena of the destruction of psychical apparatuses that also create their effects as quickly as “growth” spreads over the world, which is indeed, by this very fact, a stunted growth. [une mécroissance] The new global capitalism will not be able to renew its energies without inventing a new logic and new objects of investment – and here the word investment must be taken literally and in all its senses: both the sense it has in industrial economy and its sense within libidinal economy.

At this stage of my exposé, it is interesting to check for heart murmurs in a text by Jeremy Rifkin which is circulating all over France and Europe. Rifkin, setting his discourse under the watchword of “the end of the age of oil,” asks how we are to assure a “sustainable development” but without ever asking the question of the problem of stunted growth, that is, of a “growth” that destroys desire, and that desindividuates producers as well as consumers, stunting the dynamism of what Max Weber called the spirit of capitalism, a spirit that has to be apprehended as libidinal energy and that can be constituted only in processes of sublimation henceforth annihilated by marketing techniques.

While never taking up these questions (which were however the horizon of both his European dream and The Age of Access), Rifkin insists, apropos the age of oil and more generally of fossil fuels, its growing “external costs (which in economics is called negative externalities): he thus describes the third limit encountered by a capitalism become an actually globalised technological system of production and of consumption. In this context, he writes, there is a residual stock of fossil energy that we will have to learn to exploit to the hilt, that is, the most economically possible, while at the same time putting into place other processes for the production and consumption of energy:

So as to prepare the future, each government will have to exploit new energy sources and establish new economic models.

I am myself convinced that the stakes are a change in the economic model. But I do not believe that the heart of the question is the energy of subsistence: the real question is that of an energy of existence which is libidinal energy.

Now, by only asking the question of a new production of renewable, sustainable energie of subsistence, founded on the intermediary storage by the technology of the production of hydrogen, Rifkin would have us believe that the energy crisis is a passing one and that it will be able to be surmounted, and along with it the third limit of capitalism, without having to ask the question of libidinal energy, without taking into account this second limit which is the truth of the third one: where the libido has been destroyed, and where the drives it contained, as Pandora’s box enclosing every evil, henceforth are at the helm of beings devoid of attention, and incapable of taking care of their world.

Libidinal energy is essentially sustainable, except when it decomposes into drive-driven energy, which is on the contrary destructive of its objects. The drive is an energy, but an essentially destructive one, for the drive consumes its object, which is to say it consummates it. This consumption and consummation implemented by consumers, is a destruction. Consummare, the etymology of the word to consume, and which initially meant to accomplish, to reach the goal, becomes with Christianity a synonym of to lose, perdere, and to destroy, destruere. Starting in 1580, the French word consommer means to do away through use goods and energies. Starting in 1745 we begin to hear about consumers, and consumption designates then the usage one has of an object for the satisfaction of needs. Consumption becomes an economic term at the beginning of the 20th century. And it was only in 1972 that the word consumerism made its appearance in the United States.

If consummation is that which destroys its object, libido is to the contrary that which, as desire and not as drive, that, as the sublimation intrinsic to desire, takes care of its object. This is why the question of the third limit of capitalism is not that of the relinquishment of fossil fuels but rather the relinquishment of a drive-driven economy and the reconstitution of a libidinal economy, that is a sustainable one, given that this energy increases with the frequentation of its objects. The third limit of capitalism is not only the destruction of the reserves of fossil fuel, but the limit constituted by the drive to destruction of all objects in general by consumption, in so far as they have become objects of drives, and not objects of desire and attention – the psychotechnological organisation of consumption provoking the destruction of attention in all its forms, on the psychical level as well as the collective level.

Because he seems to ignore everything involved in the second limit of capitalism and its meaning once the third limit has been reached, Rifkin’s discourse seems to me fraught with dangers: he would have us believe that a drive-driven growth could be sustained owing to the technology of hydrogen. An yet, this discourse is interesting and of import for at least three reasons:

1) it proposes a real alternative to the question of the energy of subsistence with this system founded on hydrogen which would allow a harmful limit to be pushed back;

2) it poses the questions about energy that are never distinct from questions on networks of communication and information, that is, hypomnesic systems and retentional devices of tertiary retentions;

3) finally, and above all, it posits that the network founded on hydrogen must be based on the model of social networks made possible by the world wide web and, thus, must get beyond the opposition between production and consumption.

An organisation based on consumption, and constituted by its opposition to production, is dangerous not only because it produces excess quantities of carbon dioxide, but because it destroys minds. The opposition of production and consumption has as its consequence that both producers and consumers are proletarianised by the loss of their knowledge: they are reduced to and economy of subsistence, and deprived of economy of their existence – they are deprived of libidinal economy, that is, of desire. This is why the fundamental question opened by the combination of the three limits of capitalism is the overcoming of this opposition and of the proletarinarisation it engenders structurally.

Now what is extremely interesting in Rifkin’s proposition consists in positing, based on the position set forth in the first lines of the study, the energy systems and information or mnemotechnical systems co-develop, that the most recent system of communication, Internet, breaks, precisely, with the opposition of consumption and production and thus constitutes the possibility of implementing a new distributed and decentralised network of sustainable energies where everyone would be producer as well as consumer, by combining the technology of stockage by hydrogen and that of networking along the lines of the Internet model.

Confronted with this unprecedented challenge to planetary (planetarianised) humanity – a challenge of practically sublime dimensions, which demands an extraordinary mobilisation of the forces of the spirit to meet it: a challenge convoking what Kant called the supresensible, that is, also the infinite (infinitely renewable) – the temptation of the industrial and capitalist world is to come up with a technological and scientific response in denial of the three limits of capitalism. This temptation borne of denial cannot appreahand

1) that these three limits, when they combine, produce a systemic evolution at a superior level, that is, a phenomenon of emergence,

2) that we must change industrial models not only to produce a new technical and scientific rationality, but to constitute a new social rationality, productive of motivation, of reasons for living together, that is, of taking care of the world and of those living there,

3) that the fundamental question is here to reorient the financial fluxes toward long-term investments by waging war against speculation, but also against modes of life founded on the short term, of which the most every-day example is the organisation of society by a marketing systematically exploiting drives by destroying libido as that which evinces the capable of sustainable investment.

Consumption become drive-based is profoundly dangerous for society. If there were no limit to this consumption, and if fossil fuel were inexhaustible, the catastrophe would perhaps be even greater that the one resulting from the deplenishment of fossil fuels. Perhaps this deplenishment is finally a kind of stroke of luck: the opportunity to understand that the true question of energy is not that one, that the energy of subsistence is of interest only insofar as its contributes to an energy of existence – and is such in its capacity to project what I call the plane of consistencies. Now this is the true stake of what is today called, in an ambiguous expression, ascendant innovation.


Over the past ten years, society as a whole (in industrialized countries and in developing countries), because of a spectacular drop in costs in the field of the electronic technologies of the fabrication of materials as well as transactions and duplications of data, acquires new practical, but also analytical and reflexive competencies, through the spread of digital apparatuses giving access to functionalities hitherto reserved to professional actors – these functionalities were hitherto organised by the industrial division of labor (and by everything coming with it, thus for example the law of intellectual property). These functionalities are those of the social networks.

This socialisation of innovation calls more and more often on social forms of apprenticeship that would appear to be self-organising and to elude the usual processes of the socialisation of innovation described as “descending” (piloted by the research/development/marketing complex: it constitutes what is more and more often called “ascendant” innovation. Ascendant innovation is a structural break with the organisation of social relations in the industrial world based on the oppositional couple production/consumption. It is founded on motivations oriented toward consistencies, that is, toward objects of what the Greeks and the Romans called skholè and otiumi, which are very specific objects of attention: the objects of knowledge (know-how, art of living, the disposition to theory, that is, to contemplation).

Digital technologies, where the technologies of information, communication and telecommunications converge and tend to amalgamate, and on the basis of which a sector of communicating objects called “internet objects” is developing, form a new technological milieu, reticulatory and relational in nature, belonging to what Simondon called an “associated technico-geographical milieu,” reconfiguring what he also called the process of psychical and collective individuation, and transforming into technologies of the spirit what hitherto has functioned essentially as technologies of control.

In this technological milieu, electronic apparatuses form a systemic ensemble with the network owing its existence to the IP protocol. Now, the resulting dynamic system, in constant evolution, grounded in a relational economy of miniaturized and personalised equipment and relational services – what is indeed called, and in particular by Jeremy Rifkin, relational technologies (“R technologies”) – install new social dynamics, absolutely unheard-of with what hitherto was characteristic of industrial society, and which are propelled by a psycho-social state of the population no longer content with the classical organisational model, and which stores up, therefore, a dynamic potential in the form of expectations, et by the combination of the effects of the Moore “law” and the specificities of the IP networks.

The characteristics proper to the new technological milieu being formed with the IP protocol, which must be apprehended as a technological protocol of reticulation with structural consequences in the field of social reticulation, can be put down to its both bidirectional and intrinsically productive and collective character of a metalanguage of a new type, whereby metadata are collected and organised: it is the combination of these characteristics that founds the constitution of what are called “social networks.”

This metalanguage consititues a new epoch in the process of grammatisation which globally transforms the conditions of transindividuation. A psychic process is translated at the level of a collective individuation where the psychic individuation is marked, inscribed so to speak in the real, and is recognized by other psychic individuals: this work of collective individuation by psychic individuation, and conversely, is the process of transindividuation. Now it is precisely this circuit formed by the process of individuation that can be observed in the “social networks” – however tawdry they may appear at first sight.

This is why the dynamics induced by the technological protocol of reticulation IP must be described as the effects of a process of psychical, collective and technical individuation the likes of which have never existed before. As poor and disappointing as the social-digital networks appear to us, most of the time, they bring together, henceforth, hundreds of millions of psychical individuals in a processes of collective individuation that can sometimes be evaluated as rich and inventive – if we recall on line video games, the network Second Life, Facebook, MSN, Skyblogs, etc. But we must also include collaborative platforms like Wikipedia, the open source communities in the field of software development with the Linux system, and so many other variegated initiatives that have taken off in the world – collaborative spaces of teaching, cooperatives of knowledge, and so on.

The Simondonian theory of psychosocial individuation is a theory of relations in which this individuation is produced via a process of transindividuation (which engenders what Simondon calls significations). The process of transindivuation consists in the formation of circuits “knitted” by these relations and whereby the process of co-individuation can be meta-stabilized. However, the conditions of formation of such circuits are quite variable. In particular, these circuits can either imply psychical individuals formed by them, this implication then being the very process of their formation, or, on the contrary they can short-circuit them and impose formations of signification in which they have not participated – the psychical individuals having been proletarianized, that is, disindivualized. The significations in which transindividuation consists then tend to loose their sense and their direction: this is what occurs in dissociated milieus.

Such milieux are created in the production/consumption dichotomy, and this causes a generalised loss of individuation, and a protean discontent and unease. The IP technology is on the contrary what allows the proliferation of new circuits of transindividuation, and that’s why is is massively invested by social practices they were neither anticipated nor programmed by any industrial or commercial strategy. It is thus that this technico-relational milieu tends to reconstitute associated and dialogical milieus (that is, where all those who participate in this milieu contribute to its individuation) by the unfolding of technologies of transindividuation.

This is not to say that these technologies cannot serve the cause of the short-circuiting of transindividuation. All attentional technologies (and this digital technologies of transindividuation belong to the group of attentional technologies) are pharmacological to the strict extent that, as technologies of the formation of attention, they can be reversed and upturned into technologies of the deformation of this attention, and short-circuit this attention, that is, exclude it form the process of transindividuation and signification: they can always produce dissociation.

This is the context that ought to spur the European Union to elaborate a new industrial model, based on what I call with my friends in the association Ars Industrialis, an industrial politics of the technologies of spirit – that is, of sublimation – as the only sustainable libidinal economy. It is only on this condition that Rifkin’s proposition can supply a basis of subsistence (and a basis for a bio-politics conceives at the level of the biosphere) for a new politics of existence: a noopolitics susceptible of reversing and overcoming the deadly logic of psychopower. The actual question, for Europe as for the rest of the world, is whether it can invent with America and the other major industrialised countries, a European way of life where economizing means taking care.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quote of the day: Sadhana

Do a favor for yourself and protect yourself remembering the Divine

Quote of the day: Sadhana

It is a great achievement to be happy always in this unhappy world. Let nothing take away your achievement of happiness and fulfillment of inner life.

Quote of the day: Sadhana

Rely on the Mother completely and remember Her all the time. If you do not rely completely you leave large gaps for hostile attacks during night and lower conscious
states. It is essential to concentrate before going to bed. Make it a rule.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ten thousand steps to immortality( needs editing)

Ten Thousand Steps to Immortality and Prosperity

The King J was unhappy with the state of affairs in his kingdom. There were innumerable problems that troubled him. He was a man with a moral and ethical conscience and the implementation of the laws of the old forefathers to his present social life has become impractical. People have forgotten the real meaning of the social rules and rituals of the past and hence the King was worried about the degrading state of affairs of the people in the kingdom.

Now, the old laws have become rigid and people started to make rituals out of them. The inner meaning of the old laws has been forgotten due to complacency and general lack of interest in the society for matters of philosophical interest. People were more or less happy with their normal lives. But over the years the laws have become a ritual and people used these laws during ritual worship to their small gods for material and other worldly tokens.

The King desired the renewal of the meaning of the lost laws of the land without which the people would degrade further into meaningless lives and the society would collapse. The King saw that the general taste of the people has deteriorated and more and more people have started to enjoy crude forms of entertainments. The quality of the Arts and music has come down and people have lost respect for the learned and the sage. The sage has become a fictional character. When the King was a child he heard great stories about how the sage with his/her unique understanding of the nature of reality would renew the meaning of the laws to the people and uphold the law of the land in a new light.

There were ten thousand steps to heaven which a mortal can climb to find the real meaning of the laws of the land. These steps were wide and grandiose. There was also a iron railing on both the sides of the steps. Everybody in the kingdom would visit these steps and walk a certain distance up into the heaven but come back to their homes during the night more as a passtime than as to pursue the destination or to find the truth of the scriptures. There was a special connection between these ten thousand steps and the laws of the land. In the yore, a certain mortals went up the steps and brought back the laws of the land from the heaven. The mortals had to climb all the steps for at least a couple of years to reach the sky and the legend says that this mortal heros were the first sage to bring the law of the land from the sky. The Gods revealed the secret of the law to the sage who reaches the zenith of the steps.

As days went by the King grew frustrated with the state of affairs of the people and the deterioration of civic society. Out of desperation he called all this citizens to the court house and announced a strange message.          

If any one of its citizens dares to climb the stairs to the sky and bring back the real meaning of the law he will be gifted with great prosperity. He pleaded his citizens to take the challenge and be the saviors of their law and destiny.

Actually there were at least a hundred people who decided to climb the stairs on an auspicious day. There were several dangers in climbing the stairs. There were many myths told about the stairs from the time of their forefathers. Some said that it was a  long and dangerous path and did not deserve the sacrifice of life one enjoys normally on the land. What is the use of being wise one would say when all the enjoyments one needs are within your reach on land. Though one knows that these enjoyments are temporary who would risk the time and effort to climb all the ten thousand stairs to know the truth?
Others said that only a few can reach the top and out of which only one man came back and the rest liked to stay back in the heaven. That is the reason why all the people respect the only sage of yore as the greatest man but that’s been a long time now and the people do not understand the real meaning of the law anymore.

When the race to reach the top of the stair began there were nearly a hundred of them and by the time they reached three thousand stairs there were only ten men left. Most of them returned back home not because they could not climb to the top but because they really did not believe that this mission would give any benefit to their lives. They were happy doing the ritual worship and making love to their wives, eating and drinking wine. They were also uncertain if there was any danger to their lives and they did not want to risk their precious life in pursuit of some unknown happiness.

These ten people who were left would now talk to each other while walking up the stairs so that they did not feel lonely. They would talk several topics from a wide range. Sometime they would argue if their mission was doomed to be a failure. The ten men soon became good friends, however, by the time they reached five thousand steps another five men dropped down from the mission. The journey was difficult without the usual pleasure of daily life. It needed great determination and focus and a faith in the heart that the goal is worth achieving and good for everybody and precious to oneself too.         

One would wonder how they would survive and what they did to eat and cook. The stairs was entwined with creepers which had their roots in the land that produced sweet fruits for its travelers up the stairs. They were so sweet that once ate, one would not feel hunger all day long. So one can come to the conclusion that food was not the problem but the traveling up the stairs needed discipline and self control on themselves. They had to give up the usual pleasures on life on land and have a determination to pursue the unknown. That was joy itself if one new that life on land was short and was basically a run after temporary pleasures. What could the mortals do, they could not see any other visible solution but climbing these stairs was not one of their ambitions. After all they were happy pursuing the sense enjoyments.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Menhaden: the most important fish in the sea

Menhaden have been called 'the most important fish in the sea'. [7] H. Bruce Franklin’s most recent book, The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America

 (2007), is an interdisciplinary study of the role of menhaden in American environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural history from the seventeenth into the twenty-first centuries.


Nearly every fish a fish eater likes to eat eats menhaden. Bluefin tuna, striped bass, redfish and bluefish are just a few of the diners at the menhaden buffet. All of these fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids but are unable themselves to synthesize them. The omega-3s they have come from menhaden.
But menhaden are entering the final losing phases of a century-and-a-half fight for survival that began when humans started turning huge schools into fertilizer and lamp oil. Once petroleum-based oils replaced menhaden oil in lamps, trillions of menhaden were ground into feed for hogs, chickens and pets. Today, hundreds of billions of pounds of them are converted into lipstick, salmon feed, paint, “buttery spread,” salad dressing and, yes, some of those omega-3 supplements you have been forcing on your children. All of these products can be made with more environmentally benign substitutes, but menhaden are still used in great (though declining) numbers because they can be caught and processed cheaply......

The menhaden is a small fish that in its multitudes plays such a big role in our economy and environment that its fate shouldn’t be effectively controlled by a single company and its bottles of fish oil supplements. If our government is serious about standing up for the little guy, it should start by giving a little, but crucial, fish a fair deal.

Paul Greenberg is the author of the forthcoming “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.”


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Quote of the day

Whenever I taste the happiness of the Divine peace and sweetness, I am assured the Divine has not given up on me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pharmacy conversations

My friend Ramirez comes smiling and waving his hand. We are all smiles and he says, 'why do you look at me suspicious today'. I said, 'it was kinda of a surprise seeing you today'. It was 8 pm and no traffic in the store and I try to start a conversation if I find an acquaintance. I knew that he works long hours and I also knew that he works in health care and he helps taking care of disabled people. Other than that I never asked him what exactly his work was. Today, for some unknown reason I asked him that question. He started telling me that he helps disabled children with celebral palsy. I heard of it as a brain disease but did not know much about it until he told me that the children need to be given a fed, dress, cleaned,bathed and they are unable to do anything.

Ramirez said,'it is sad to see those children in that state, unfortunate.'
I said,' ya it is.' I told him if it must be problem for the parents to look after these children. He said, ' he takes care one third of the time when the parents are out for work or some other purpose and the rest of the two third is taken care of the parents. He goes with the parents to doctors visits also. He told me that they have to feed the children with the G-tube in the stomach because they cannot swallow food and they can choke.

At this moment I felt how lucky I am that everything in my body functions properly. Then Ramirez told me that the government funds for their doctor visits, maintainance, and almost everything. A nurse or educator visit these patients to teach them even though it is very hard to teach anything to them.

The most astonishing thing Ramirez told me is that these children are adopted by couples. How wonderful some couples are in this country. It is unbelievable. These people adopt sick children and help them all their lives even though they know it is such a difficult job and a lot of sacrifice. Some of these couples are retired but how generous and great hearted they should be to even think about it. These children were neglected by the original parents and were propably in health institutions but these great people opted to take care of them and people like Ramirez help these disabled people.

There is a wide spectrum of people in our society. Some go to the extremes to take care of the society and some go the other perverse extreme and think of only themselves and how to exploit the society for personal satisfaction.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Housing in California

The problem is going to fully expose itself like a blossoming orchid when lenders suddenly send out that first recast anniversary payment only to receive a cold shoulder once day 31 arrives. The fact that California has a whopping $300 billion in pay option ARMs that will recast over the next few years is simply going to put a cap in any bottom talk for a long time. Keep in mind in the entire United States there are $653,502,658,632 in Alt-A loans out there. The vast majority of these pay option ARMs fall in this category. So California by itself has nearly half of the entire nominal amount of these toxic sludge mortgages that make subprime loans look conservative.
Let us not forget that there are still subprime loans out there. California still has over 465,000 subprime loans “active” as of June of 2008. So we are not out of the woods on that one. If the housing market correction has caused housing prices to drop by 38% in California in one year simply with the majority of the subprime problems, can you imagine when the marriage of subprime and pay option ARMs confront us at the same time later this year and throughout 2009?

With unemployment peaking near 11 %, there is no way housing bottom has reached. Where do people have the money to purchase houses?

I am guessing recovery can be  based on unemployment coming down from double digits and purchasing a house is to be weighed with the current rent prices.

i mean    Monthly mortgage payments/ rent ratio

but if mortgage is high, buying may be postponed because housing market is going go down another 20% unless unemployment is goes down and banks bailed out again.

Quote of the day: Abraham Lincoln

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six sharpening my ax.

Friday, November 27, 2009

lessons from annual reports: 2008--- Prem watsa

To Our Shareholders:

While 2007 was a record year for us, 2008 was even better! We earned approximately $1.5 billion1 after tax or $79.53 per diluted share. Book value grew by 21.0% to $278.28 per share (excluding the $5.00 per share dividend paid in 2008) and we ended the year with over $1.5 billion in cash and marketable securities at the holding company level. We were net cash at the holding company level, as our cash and marketable securities exceeded holding company debt and other obligations.

Since we began 23 years ago, book value has compounded by 25% while our common stock price has followed at 23% per year. The last two years have made up significantly for the biblical seven lean years that you have suffered. In the seven lean years (1999-2005), we made no money on a cumulative basis. In the three years since (2006-2008), we have earned $2.8 billion after tax and book value per share has more than doubled. While we are pleased that our forecast of “the seven lean years are over” did come true, we much prefer the Noah principle, “Forecasting doesn’t count, building an ark does”!

The results for our major subsidiaries are shown below:
Return on
Net Average
Combined Earnings Shareholders’
Ratio after Tax Equity
Northbridge 107.3% 45.7 3.6%
Crum & Forster (US GAAP) 114.6% 332.8 27.1%
OdysseyRe (US GAAP) 101.2% 549.0 20.5%

Excluding the effect of foreign currency movements, the impact of an unusual reinsurance commutation and lawsuit settlement at Crum & Forster, and catastrophe losses related to Hurricanes Ike – the third costliest hurricane in U.S. history – and Gustav, the combined ratios of Northbridge, Crum & Forster and OdysseyRe (the latter two on a US GAAP basis) were 100.1%, 97.0% and 93.7% respectively, and Fairfax’s consolidated combined ratio (on a Canadian GAAP basis) was 96.2%. Overall, these were extraordinary results, both absolute and relative to the industry, especially given the investment environment. Northbridge’s results were mediocre because of charges recorded on investments for other than temporary impairments and mark-to-market losses, the gains on Canadian Federal Government bonds being less than on U.S. Federal Government bonds, and higher combined ratios.

The table below shows our major subsidiaries’ growth in book value over the past seven years (per share for Northbridge and OdysseyRe), adjusted by including distributions to shareholders.

2001 – 2008
Annual Compound
Growth Rate
Northbridge 19.2%
Crum & Forster (US GAAP) 18.9%
OdysseyRe (US GAAP) 21.2%

Our investment team has produced exceptional returns in many of the years over the past 23 – but none like in 2008! The investment environment in 2008 was brutal as the 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 year storm in the financial markets that we feared arrived in the fall. All major stock markets worldwide were down about 50% and all corporate and non-Federal Government bond spreads widened to historically high levels. There were very few places to hide, let alone prosper! Fortunately, after many years of caution, we were perfectly positioned with a cash and government bond position of approximately 75% of our investment portfolio, our stock positions fully hedged, and our large holdings of credit default swaps. The total return (including unrealized gains) in our investment portfolios, including our CDS position and hedges, was 16.4%. Total interest and dividend income and net investment gains in 2008 (including at the holding company) were $3.3 billion after recording almost $1 billion in other than temporary impairments and over $500 million of mark-to-market losses (primarily on convertible bonds). Interest and dividend income dropped in 2008 from $761 million to $626 million because of the collapse in short term interest rates, but total net investment

gains increased to $2.7 billion – again, after the $1.5 billion of impairment and mark-to-market charges mentioned above – from $1.6 billion in 2007. These are exceptional results and no other company in the industry has even come close to matching them! A standing ovation for our investment team, led by Roger Lace, Brian Bradstreet, Chandran Ratnaswami, Sam Mitchell, Paul Rivett, Frances Burke and Enza La Selva.

Our performance in 2008 did not go unnoticed by the rating agencies. A.M. Best upgraded Crum & Forster to an “A” rating after upgrading Northbridge to an “A” rating and Fairfax to an investment grade rating in 2007. DBRS upgraded Fairfax to investment grade in 2008 and Standard & Poor’s followed early in 2009. By the way, we do not know of another publicly traded financial institution, of any size, that has survived after being downgraded to non-investment grade status.

In November of 2008, after the stock markets had dropped 50% from their highs, we decided to remove the equity hedges on our portfolio investments. Also, as the yield on long (30-year) U.S. Treasuries began to drop below 3%, we sold almost all our U.S. Treasuries (at year-end we had only $985 million left, compared to $6.4 billion on December 31, 2007), having realized net gains of $583 million in 2008 on sales of U.S. Treasuries. Both the equity hedges and the U.S. Treasuries have done an outstanding job in protecting our capital. Our U.S. Treasury bond position was to a large extent replaced by $4.1 billion in U.S. state, municipal and other tax-exempt bonds (of which $3.6 billion carry a Berkshire Hathaway guarantee) with an average yield (at purchase) of approximately 5.79% per annum. During the fourth quarter of 2008, we also increased our cash and short term investments by $752 million and invested an additional $2.3 billion in common stocks. The annualized pre-tax equivalent interest and dividend income has increased significantly for our company by virtue of our significant holdings of tax-exempt bonds and as we have taken advantage of the significant widening in corporate and non-Federal Government spreads.

In previous annual reports, we have discussed the holding of some common stock positions for the very long term. Last year we identified Johnson & Johnson as one name and said that Mr. Market may give us more opportunities in the future. As shown in the table below, at the end of 2008 we had taken advantage of the major decline in stock prices to purchase additional positions in outstanding companies with excellent long term track records which we contemplate holding for the long term.

Shares Owned Cost per Share Amount Invested Market Value
Johnson & Johnson 7,585,000 $60.68 460.3 453.4
Kraft Foods 10,723,571 26.61 285.4 287.6
Wells Fargo Bank 3,515,100 21.93 77.1 103.6

Late in the fourth quarter of 2008, after receiving a $350 million dividend from Crum & Forster, we decided to take Northbridge private at a fair price for all minority shareholders. Our Cdn$39.00 per share offer was unanimously recommended by the Independent Committee of the Board of Northbridge, which had retained Scotia Capital as its financial advisor. As many of you will remember, we took Northbridge public in 2003 at Cdn$15.00 per share. At Cdn$39.00 per share, in the approximately five and a half years that Northbridge was public, Northbridge minority shareholders earned a 20%+ compound annual rate of return, including dividends (versus 5% for the TSX 300). We took Northbridge public at 1.2x book value and private at 1.3x book value, in an environment where the whole P&C industry (including us) was selling at approximately book value. Northbridge had never traded at Cdn$39.00 per share before. You can see why we considered the offer a fair price for Northbridge’s minority shareholders.

As you know, necessity is often the mother of invention – by taking Northbridge public in 2003, we created the largest commercial lines P&C company in Canada from four relatively small companies. Under Mark Ram’s leadership (Mark has been with us since he graduated from the Ivey Business School in 1991), we are very excited about Northbridge’s long term prospects.

In the past year, we have had significant share repurchases in the group. Fairfax repurchased 1.07 million shares at an average price of $264.39 per share (total cost of $282 million), more than offsetting the 0.9 million shares issued on the conversion of the $189 million of 5% convertible debentures that we called for redemption in early 2008. Northbridge repurchased 2.3 million shares at an average price of Cdn$29.04 per share in 2008, while OdysseyRe repurchased 9.5 million shares at an average price of $37.06 per share after repurchasing 2.6 million shares at an average price of $35.83 per share in 2007. Fairfax also retired Cdn$50 million of preferred shares in 2008.

We think that Fairfax has developed two significant strengths over the past 23 years. One, our worldwide investment management capabilities, has been evident, especially in a year like 2008.


1. buy gold, treasuries and hedge and sell stock equities before the market fall

2. Accumulate stocks of companies that have good long term prospects after the market fall and also during normal market conditions.

3. Important to understand annual reports before investing long term and also consider following the stock trends for buying and selling.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Complex divorce situations

This article is a emotional tour of how father and child are entangled in dishonest relationships.

what are our brothers,sisters, mommies and daddies doing?

Making it easy for "sugar daddy" to connect with "sugar babies"

A very interesting article on how people spend enormous amount of time on sex, food and sleep.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote of the day: Sharing is loving

The Mother shares her happiness with the child. Now I understand that sharing is loving and by the act of sharing her nature with the child, she shows that she loves him non vocally. The child who experiences her happiness in turn loves her for sharing with him.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

By the sea and the beach

I see the boat drifting away
towards the ocean horizon
into the unknown and far

As the sun sets
the crowd starts to leave
the sky turns red
and after a while i see the first stars
of the night.

The waves regain their strength
and start to jump higher

oh! these waves have the strength
to break the rock to sand
in the ocean was born the fate of land
Into the the ocean does everything return

the time spent on the beach
alone or with a friend
remains in the memory till the end
the sea wind soothes the soul and the mind
All my worries look trivial
and I have gained the calm strength of the sea.

the waves erase the footprints
on the beach and make a new
beginning for the fresh sun

some birds love to dive
into the ocean waters
and catch the fish
in the light of last hours

one can see the fun of nature
in the play of the small silly birds
with the encroaching waves

As the sun sets on the horizon
I feel the silence take over me
lost in utter quite
i loose all sense of surrounding

Friday, November 6, 2009

The suppressed classes of India

Injustice towards lower classes from more than a millennium is still pervasive. The idea of superiority is entrenched in the Indian mind. A vast majority of the individuals in India have a strong identity with their caste which in itself is innocuous but with it also comes the token of class hierarchy. An individual by birth falls in this hierarchy that he is tagged to till death and he takes full pleasure in claiming superiority over the lower classes in the hierarchy. There are four classes, they are:
1.the Brahmins or the priestly class,
2. Kshetriya or the warrior class,
3.Vyshaya or the trader class and
4. the Sudra or the labor class.
There is another class called the Avarna or the classless untouchables who are considered the Scheduled class and Scheduled tribes in the present constitution. The lowest of the classes have to take the brunt of this social evil in all relations with the class hierarchy. They are looked upon as dirty untouchables. Although these practices have been banned by the constitution of India, in practice they exist covertly and sometimes overtly.

There are several reasons for the present state of class problems in India even after 60 years of independence. The SC/ST classes are stagnant, poor, uneducated and have not progressed one. One reason I find is that upper classes in India who hold powerful positions in government and politics, do not have an incentive to uplift the lower classes. They feel the threat of competition, fear of sharing power and also losing the privileged social, economic and political superiority in the society. Also,there is not only the fear of the Brahmin class but also the other backward classes above the untouchables in the hierarchy, who control the vast swathes of agricultural land feel this fear. The situation is such that these higher classes oppose government distributing unused land to them.

Untouchability has been cleverly sustained in India through unjust maneuvers and made into the code of law otherwise called as Manu smriti in past millinia. Some part of it is also included presently in the present constitution in the form of hindu marriage law. The Manu smriti has many codes of law based on discrimination of caste. Though Hinduism as religion has given social stability, it also carries the baggage of old customs and discriminations. The form it takes now is a potpourri of various sects in the long stride of time in the subcontinent. The point that I am making is that blaming Hinduism will not solve any problems of the present situation. Every religion of the past has its social evils and as man has progressed morally the social practices in religions also changed. It can also be said the same with Hinduism as a social practice. Compared to other religions Hinduism gave ample freedom for an individual to seek spiritual freedom away from the society. The Bhagavat gita also stresses the realization of the individual as the primary step for the good of the society.

There are a few dalit intellectuals and educated people who want to change or eliminate the caste system that has treated them cruelly. I would like to discuss about some reformations they propose. Firstly, I completely agree that caste system should go and it is one social evil that has split this society and caused great pain to its suppressed people.

It is true that on a social scale Hinduism has not been able to
create an egalitarian society based on religion like the Islam but has become fixated in caste distinctions based on birth and labor. Caste is the remnant of old society that are still hard to eliminate because of the hard shells it has formed around each class and deep social disease ingrained in all citizens of class identity and hierarchy.

There are some dalits who say that all of Hinduism is false.I argue that within Hinduism it is known that teachings of scriptures like the Bhagavat gita are catholi and hold true to all of humanity irrespective of caste, nationality,race, sex and birth. The gita very clearly emphasizes that spiritual realization is possible to all individuals irrespective of their class. So we can see a clear distinction in the voice of the Manu smriti and
the Gita. Hinduism has sacred scriptures which celebrate the equal latent potentiality in all human beings to realize their higher consciousness. Hence, it is important to distinguish between the teachings of scriptures and critique accordingly. All scriptures in Hinduism do not carry the same importance and it is ridiculous to go by the manu smriti as the only scripture representing Hinduism.

Some give the solution of an atheist society as an alternative as if the dalits( untouchables) themselves would discard their customs and traditions steeped in their religion. It has to be agreed the religion of dalits and higher caste hindus has co-evolved or probably shared some myths and stories. Therefore, I feel atheism is an unpractical solution for a country like India where religion has played an important role in the culture and lives of people in all their live activities.
And three are some who prefer the complete conversion of dalits to Buddhism. It is true that dalits had to bear atrocities by the upper classes but are these alternatives really viable?

This problem is obviously complicated. No particular solution can offer a complete remedy. The change I feel should come from all quarters of the society. The upper castes should learn to understand their own important scriptures where all humans are treated as equal and give an opportunity for social mobility of the lower classes. They need to recognize that scriptures like Manu smriti are not valid in this modern era and those scriptures are based on discrimination and a shame to human dignity.

The government has tried several plans and programs for the uplifting of the lower classes. One move in this direction is the reservation of seats in higher education for the lower classes. This provision has been scathingly successful. The problem is that the students of lower classes do not get adequate education to get into a higher institutes even if the cut out mark has been deliberately lowered. So it becomes incumbent to focus on primary education for the poor and the lower classes.

The problem in India in its failure of primary education is because of several factors. One of them is that the upper classes who hold the power politically do not see any incentive for proper administration of primary schools and education of the lower classes. It only adds to their disadvantage if the poor educate and complete with the upper classes. The political leaders of upper classes fear they loose their credibility and support of their own respective classes in case they go out of their way in helping the other castes. So the vision of nation building has been reduced and narrowed to uplifting their own caste. In a situation like this the lower classes need to become politically active and have representation in the electoral process, so that there are leaders of their classes who have an incentive to educate them at least as a ploy to get elected again. So, basically they have to become politically active and have more leaders representing them to share the piece of pie along with the rest of the society. Sometimes they may have to come on the streets to protest the
inequality in the society.

This activism by the lower classes has been presently viewed by the upper classes as a rebellion against the age old tradition of caste system. Some upper class citizens also claim that there is no more any class distinction in the modern world and do nothing to engage in straightening the unseen malady. For them, if the problem is not visible to their eyes campus it does not exist. Untouchability is true and rampant today and man does not like to share power with the deprived unless he is forced to. For example, most of the rich do not like to pay taxes for the welfare of the poor. They would like to see the society dying when they pile more money for themselves.

The government whose job is to give a minimum welfare to all citizens has to
take care of the poor and marginalized classes of the society. If social mobility is not allowed due to lack of education and land reform, the democratic society
will be rejected by its poor citizens who will take arms or change their ideology to other dangerous paths like the Marxist movements that are already on the rise in India.

In conclusion, this serious problem has to be addressed immediately and due measures taken for the uplifting of the lower and marginalized classes of Indian society to prevent
farce democracy. This change has to come from the upper classes through proper education of their own sacred scriptures that hold all human beings as equal and reject the caste system as a malady of the past; lower classes with political activism and the government by taking due measures for a welfare state for the support of the poor and social mobility from the bottom up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


May nothing I do in the day or night interrupt the remembrance of the Divine.May I feel the touch of the Divine and love of the Divine always. The time spent thinking other things is the time spent in lowering the consciousness and the time spent remembering the Divine is the time spent in lifting the consciousness. Work needs to be done as an offering to the Divine and the remembering of the Divine in everything. May I get the vision of oneness in difference and work as a means to experience the oneness of everything in difference of appearances.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quote of the day

When I hear the buzz of silence I am touched by the peace within.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How India Avoided a Crisis by Joe Nocera

What has taken a number of us by surprise is the lack of adequate supervision and regulation,” Rana Kapoor was saying the other day. “This was despite the fact that Enron had happened and you passed Sarbanes-Oxley. We don’t understand it. Maybe it’s because we sit in a more controlled economy but ....” He smiled sweetly as his voice trailed off, as if to take the sting off his comments. But they stung nonetheless.

Mr. Kapoor is an Indian banker, a former longtime Bank of America executive with a Rutgers M.B.A. who, along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Ashok Kapur, was granted government permission four years ago to start a private bank, which they called Yes Bank. In the United States, Yes Bank is the kind of name a go-go banker might give to, say, a high-flying mortgage lender in the middle of a bubble. (You can even imagine the slogan: “Yes is part of our name!”) But Yes Bank is not exactly the Washington Mutual of India. One news release it hands out to reporters who come calling is an excerpt from a 2007 survey by The Financial Express: “#1 on Credit Quality amongst 56 Banks in India,” reads the headline.

I arrived in Mumbai three weeks after the terrorist attacks that killed 200 people — including, tragically, Yes Bank’s co-founder Mr. Kapur, who had served as the company’s nonexecutive chairman and was gunned down while having dinner at the Oberoi Hotel. (His wife and two dinner companions miraculously escaped.)

My hope in traveling to Mumbai was to learn about the current state of Indian business in the wake of both the credit crisis and the attacks. But in my first few days in this grand, sprawling, chaotic city, what I mainly heard, especially talking to bankers, was about America, not India. How could we have brought so much trouble on ourselves, and the rest of the world, by acting in such an obviously foolhardy manner? Didn’t we understand that you can’t lend money to people who lack the means to pay it back? The questions were asked with a sense of bewilderment — and an occasional hint of scorn. Like most Americans, I didn’t have any good answers. It was a bubble, I would respond with a sheepish shrug, as if that were an adequate explanation. It isn’t, of course.

“In India, we never had anything close to the subprime loan,” said Chandra Kochhar, the chief financial officer of India’s largest private bank, Icici. (A few days after I spoke to her, Ms. Kochhar was named the bank’s new chief executive, in a move that had long been anticipated.) “All lending to individuals is based on their income. That is a big difference between your banking system and ours.” She continued: “Indian banks are not levered like American banks. Capital ratios are 12 and 13 percent, instead of 7 or 8 percent. All those exotic structures like C.D.O. and securitizations are a very tiny part of our banking system. So a lot of the temptations didn’t exist.”

And when I went to see Deepak Parekh, the chief executive of HDFC, which was founded in 1977 as the country’s first specialized mortgage bank, practically the first words out of his mouth were these: “We don’t do interest-only or subprime loans. When the bubble was going on, we did not change any of our policies. We did not change any of our systems. We did not change our thought process. We never gave more money to a borrower because the value of the house had gone up. Citibank has a few home equity loans, but most banks in India don’t make those kinds of loans. Our nonperforming loans are less than 1 percent.”

Yet two years ago, the Indian real estate market — commercial and residential alike — was every bit as frothy as the American market. High-rises were being slapped up on spec. Housing developments were sprouting up everywhere. And there was plenty of money flowing into India, mainly from private equity and hedge funds, to fuel the commercial real estate bubble in particular. Goldman Sachs, Carlyle, Blackstone, Citibank — they were all here, throwing money at developers. So why did the Indian banks stay on the sidelines and avoid most of the pain that has been suffered by the big American banks?

Part of the reason is cultural. Indians are simply not as comfortable with credit as Americans. “A lot of Indians, when you push them, will say that if you spend more than you earn you will get in trouble,” an Indian consultant told me. “Americans spent more than they earned.”

Mr. Parekh said, “Savings are important. Joint families exist. When one son moves out, the family helps them. So you don’t borrow so much from the bank.” Even mortgage loans tend to have down payments in India that are a third of the purchase price, a far cry from the United States, where 20 percent is the new norm. (Let’s not even think about what they used to be.)

But there was also another factor, perhaps the most important of all. India had a bank regulator who was the anti-Greenspan. His name was Dr. Y. V. Reddy, and he was the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Seventy percent of the banking system in India is nationalized, so a strong regulator is critical, since any banking scandal amounts to a national political scandal as well. And in the irascible Mr. Reddy, who took office in 2003 and stepped down this past September, it had exactly the right man in the right job at the right time.

“He basically believed that if bankers were given the opportunity to sin, they would sin,” said one banker who asked not to be named because, well, there’s not much percentage in getting on the wrong side of the Reserve Bank of India. For all the bankers’ talk about their higher lending standards, the truth is that Mr. Reddy made them even more stringent during the bubble.

Unlike Alan Greenspan, who didn’t believe it was his job to even point out bubbles, much less try to deflate them, Mr. Reddy saw his job as making sure Indian banks did not get too caught up in the bubble mentality. About two years ago, he started sensing that real estate, in particular, had entered bubble territory. One of the first moves he made was to ban the use of bank loans for the purchase of raw land, which was skyrocketing. Only when the developer was about to commence building could the bank get involved — and then only to make construction loans. (Guess who wound up financing the land purchases? United States private equity and hedge funds, of course!)

Then, as securitizations and derivatives gained increasing prominence in the world’s financial system, the Reserve Bank of India sharply curtailed their use in the country. When Mr. Reddy saw American banks setting up off-balance-sheet vehicles to hide debt, he essentially banned them in India. As a result, banks in India wound up holding onto the loans they made to customers. On the one hand, this meant they made fewer loans than their American counterparts because they couldn’t sell off the loans to Wall Street in securitizations. On the other hand, it meant they still had the incentive — as American banks did not — to see those loans paid back.

Seeing inflation on the horizon, Mr. Reddy pushed interest rates up to more than 20 percent, which of course dampened the housing frenzy. He increased risk weightings on commercial buildings and shopping mall construction, doubling the amount of capital banks were required to hold in reserve in case things went awry. He made banks put aside extra capital for every loan they made. In effect, Mr. Reddy was creating liquidity even before there was a global liquidity crisis.

Did India’s bankers stand up to applaud Mr. Reddy as he was making these moves? Of course not. They were naturally furious, just as American bankers would have been if Mr. Greenspan had been more active. Their regulator was holding them back, constraining their growth! Mr. Parekh told me that while he had been saying for some time that Indian real estate was in bubble territory, he was still unhappy with the rules imposed by Mr. Reddy. “We were critical of the central bank,” he said. “We thought these were harsh measures.”

“For a while we were wondering if we were missing out on something,” said Ms. Kochhar of Icici. Banks in the United States seemed to have come up with some magical new formula for making money: make loans that required no down payment and little in the way of verification — and post instant, short-term, profits.

As Luis Miranda, who runs a private equity firm devoted to developing India’s infrastructure, put it: “We kept wondering if they had figured out something that we were too dense to figure out. It looked like they were smart and we were stupid.” Instead, India was the smart one, and we were the stupid ones.

Ms. Kochhar said that the underlying risks of having “a majority of loans not owned by the people who originated them” was not apparent during the bubble. Now that those risks have been made painfully clear, every banker in India realizes that Mr. Reddy did the right thing by limiting securitizations. “At times like this, you tend to appreciate what he did more than we did at the time,” said Mr. Kapoor. “He saved us,” added Mr. Parekh.

As the credit crisis has spread these past months, no Indian bank has come close to failing the way so many United States and European financial institutions have. None have required the kind of emergency injections of capital that Western banks have needed. None have had the huge write-downs that were par for the course in the West. As the bubble has burst, which lenders have taken the hit? Why, the private equity and hedge fund lenders who had been so eager to finance land development. Us, in others words, rather than them. Why is that not a surprise?

When I asked Mr. Kapoor for his take on what had happened in the United States, he replied: “We recognize it as a problem of plenty. It was perpetuated by greedy bankers, whether investment bankers or commercial bankers. The greed to make money is the impression it has made here. Anytime they wanted a loan, people just dipped into their home A.T.M. It was like money was on call.”

So it was. And our regulators, unlike theirs, just stood by and let it happen. The next time we’re moving into bubble territory, perhaps we can take a page from Mr. Reddy’s book — sometimes it’s better to apply the brakes too early than too late. Or, as was the case with Mr. Greenspan, not at all.

Health: Death due to E.coli in Beef

Sunday, November 1, 2009

If you cannot find cell phone at home

and want a ring or some kind of sound popping from your cell phone. here is the link to google text message sender

Monday, October 26, 2009

Transformation of the Physical

Sri Aurobindo writes,
When I spoke of being faithful to the light of the soul and the divine Call, I was not referring to anything in the past or to any lapse on your part. I was simply affirming the great need in all crises and attacks,- to refuse to listen to any suggestions,impulses,lures and to oppose to them all the call of the Truth, the imperative beckoning of the Light. In all doubt and depression, to say, " I belong to the Divine, I cannot fail"; to all suggestions of impurity and unfitness, to reply, " I am a child of Immortality chosen by the Divine; I have but to be true to myself and to Him- the victory is sure; even if I fell, I would rise again"; to all impulses to depart and serve some smaller ideal, to reply, "This is the greatest, this is the Truth that alone can satisfy the soul within me; I will endure through all tests and tribulations to the very end of the divine journey". This is what I mean by faithfulness to the Light and the Call.

Child exploitation and prostitution

I was surprised to know that there are more than 200k children trafficked in united states.

The website says,

"Among children and teens living on the streets in the United States, involvement in commercial sex activity is a problem of epidemic proportion. Approximately 55% of street girls engage in formal prostitution. Estes Report, Executive Summary at 7. Of the girls engaged in formal prostitution, about 75% worked for a pimp. Id. Pimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drinking and photographic clubs, major sporting and recreational events, major cultural events, conventions, and tourist destinations. Id. About one-fifth of these children become entangled in nationally organized crime networks and are trafficked nationally. Id. at 8. They are transported around the United States by a variety of means – cars, buses, vans, trucks or planes, Id., and are often provided counterfeit identification to use in the event of arrest. Id. The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12-14. Estes Report at 92. It is not only the girls on the streets that are affected -- for boys and transgender youth, the average age of entry into prostitution is 11-13"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope

President Obama writes about important issues concerning politics, constitution, faith, race, international politics and family.

Other than the debate about the Democrats and Republicans favoring different economic and social policies there is a touch of a caring father, husband and some one who understands the race problems in this country. Most of the time such brilliant people do not succeed in life. But Mr. Obama has proved that it can be done. That gives me a lot of hope.

I am personally touched by the book. I feel this book is a must read for anyone interested in current politics, the issues that concern all of our lives. I liked his broadmindedness, liberal and well thought out ideas.
The struggles he had to go though and how luck had favored him sometimes and how he
took challenges and most of all how he balanced all these things in his life is amazing. Gives me a lot of hope.