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Finding profundity in the most unusual places.

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June 2004
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    Kerry says Ni hao: How does Kerry stack up with regard to South Asia policy?

    There are two issues which prop up whenever Kerry alludes to South Asia.
    1. Outsourcing &
    2. Monetary Policy.

    From Kerry's campaign web site:
    "Promoting America's competitiveness in a global economy. Kerry's plan will ... For example, if you want to open a hotel in Bermuda, a bank branch in Shanghai to service the Chinese market, or a car factory in India to sell cars in India, you can still defer your foreign income. But if you open up a call center in India to answer calls from outside of India or re-locate abroad to sell cars back to the United States or Canada you must pay taxes just like call centers and auto manufacturers in the United States."

    Remember NAFTA? We learnt the hard way that protectionism with regard to industries does more harm than good in the long run. Now we are discussing the idea of protecting the service market. Kerry seems to forget that although America is geographically isolated from the rest of the world, financially, it is smack in the middle. American companies sell their products and services all over the world. What if other countries decided to reciprocate- the EU penalizes Microsoft since it doesn't develop its product in the EU. Iraq wants Halliburton out since it outsources manpower... Kerry's outsourcing rhetoric resonates well with labor unions, but one wonders if it been thought through?

    How much is South Asian countries to blame for loss of jobs? How many jobs are lost to cheap labor in China and India?

    From an article in NY Times based on a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    "The bulk of outsourced jobs never leave U.S. shores, the government said. Nine percent of non-seasonal U.S. layoffs in the first quarter were due to outsourcing, but less than a third of the work was sent overseas, the U.S. Labor Department said in releasing new figures on mass layoffs and outsourcing...In more than seven out of 10 cases, the work activities were reassigned to places elsewhere in the U.S."

    From Kerry's campaign web site:
    "America has lost millions of manufacturing jobs. Just yesterday, we learned that the trade deficit hit a new record. As the trade deficit with China has ballooned, President Bush has stood on the sidelines. He has failed to do anything to effectively address China's predatory currency manipulation..."

    huh, Predatory what? asks William Pesek Jr in a column in Bloomberg.
    "China hasn't altered its currency policy since 1995, when it pegged the yuan at 8.3 to the dollar. In fact, just six years ago, at the height of the Asian crisis, the White House was practically begging China to maintain its currency peg."

    "China in particular on the hot seat, and the hypocrisy of all this isn't lost in Asia. During the 1990s multinational companies rushed there because of cheap land and labor costs. Like their counterparts in Europe and Asia, U.S. companies pumped up profits by firing workers and hiring Chinese that commanded far less compensation and weak worker-rights rules. Somehow U.S. executives are keeping a straight face complaining that China is now stealing business with a currency policy that's been in place for almost 10 years."

    There has definitely been some damage done due to Kerry's rhetoric. (See article in Asia Times) How could Kerry stop himself from being branded anti-South Asian?

    The launch of the first Chinese website in American presidential election history by Kerry is a good start. But for a population used to seeing candidates courting nascar dads, soccer moms and single women, these are small potatoes.

    Success is knowing the difference between cornering people and getting them in your corner.

    Profundities :: 220 comments ::


    Interview With the Vampire(2004). Al-Nashami on the Saudi attack.

    Warning: Current Affairs.

    Follow the link to read the June 15 special dispatch by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

    This is an interview with Al-Nashami, commander of the Al-Quds Brigade that took responsibility for the May 29 attack at Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in which 22 people were killed.

    This is a long article(est. reading time 5 min), but I am sure reading it will give you more insight than the 40 hrs of coverage and analysis you must've seen on CNN and FOX.

    "When we were next to it[ a Hummer], the brothers began shouting 'Allah Akbar,' and shooting them. And I saw the skull of the soldier standing behind the machine gun explode before my eyes. Allah be praised. I think the driver was also killed..."

    "We went to one of the buildings...We entered and in front of us stood many people. We asked them their religion, and for identification documents. We used this time for Da'wa [preaching Islam], and for enlightening the people about our goal. We spoke with many of them..."

    "At the same time, we found a Swedish infidel. Brother Nimr cut off his head, and put it at the gate [of the building] so that it would be seen by all those entering and exiting. "

    One word : revulsion.
    One thought: "The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them." -George W Bush.

    Profundities :: 0 comments ::


    Free Gmail Invites and Alex.

    I have a few gmail invites left; anyone who wants it, send me a mail. Please don't use the comment feature for this.

    Moving on, is someone keeping up with the browser wars? yeah, I know, the Iraq war is more hip, but that war is unarguably a Vietnam for the 21st century. I'm on the right, particularly on the issue of the war, but man, someone has messed up big time- the guy who came up with the strategic plan must've copy pasted from google ;)

    This should've been a conquest of absolute proportions, like Alexander invading Persia, like Genghis Khan invading China. America should have been the savour of Iraqis, just as Alexander was crowned Pharoah by the Egyptians, America should have unified the middle east in a fight against tyranny, dictatorship and terrorism, But unfortunately the execution of post-war strategy had much in common with Alexanders' rather than Genghis'.

    Who the heck is this Alexander dude, you might ask. Alexander( or Alex as in his school yearbook), at age 20 became king of Macedonia. we are talking circa 300 B.C. The interesting part of his conquest is that unlike the outcome of modern wars, where might wins, in a decade of fighting numerically superior forces at their home turf, he never tasted defeat! He defeated the Persians, who outnumbered his army at least 1 to 3 (some accounts put the number at 10 times ) remember Alamo, San Antonio, well 'tis s'thin like that. Maybe one day I'll write something about his strategies.

    Genghis Khan came much later- 1100 A.D. but he had the largest empire that the world has ever seen. He was into wine, women and wealth. He left the earth with a longing impression- 16 million living men carry his Y-chrmosome!!! Read about it at this link kuro5hin. Genghis' sons expanded his empire, but Alex, he messed up big time in his post-conquest plans. He thought he was God, believed he would never die and ended up dying when he was 32/33 leaving everyone to mend for themselves.

    This is why I hate talking about the browser wars :) flash forward: Empire Microsoft had a monopoly on browsers. But the subjects are becoming restless with the integrated browser. You open up a web site and along with it comes a hundred pop ups, you try to close one and the computer locks up. The good news is that there is an alternative- Mozilla FireFox. This browser has been gaining so much popular acceptance now that it is not even funny.

    Why would you want to switch to FireFox?
    1. It is a small download (5MB) and easy install.
    2. open a page, Cntrl click a link on the page- it opens up in a new tab in the browser and loads up in the background.
    3. pop ups cant even get their feet in sideways.
    4. This is a lean application and is very fast.
    5. You can download extensions. ( I would recommend the mouse gestures )
    6. a neat download manager, a neat extension manager, a neat theme manager and a double neat bookmarks manager.

    Suffice to say that this thing is far far ahead of IE as far as features and user experience.

    The browser war is over. The winner is FireFox.

    Footnote: for the discerning, this article is neither about the Iraq war nor about the browser wars, it was meant to draw parallels.

    Profundities :: 10 comments ::


    Walls between gardens.

    When I got back to my apartment, I was drenched in rain. For a split second I contemplated whether I should press the blinking light on my answering machine or run for the towel. The voice of Mrs. Warrior at full blast from the recorder stopped me even before I reached half way across to my restroom.

    -The bitch dumped her.

    Ohh no. I was anyway going to be wet again, so forget the towel, I made for my car.

    -Reshmi Pillai Smillai. She dumped our Poorni for that Seema Shameless character.
    So Mrs. Warrior knew about Reshmi all along! and I thought that it was a secret that I shared with Poornima.
    -What does this Smillai think about herself? the Saali kutti doesn't even know how to say a proper Namaste. Carrom board kahin ka.
    -Mrs. Warrior, all this time, I mean, you knew about Poornima and Reshmi?
    -Hell'o, (her south indian accent was breaking in) if i did not know where my Poorni's interests lay, who would. I knew from the time she ditched Ryan that she was in search of love... and when Reshmi came along, it all fell in place for our precious Poorni.

    I couldn't believe this. Mrs. Warrior was now way up there in the coolness scale.

    -Where is she now?
    -Mone,(Son) she is upstairs, why dont you go talk to her a little.

    I could hear the sound of my throbbing heart through my drenched shirt as i walked up the stairs. Usually this house used to be a noisy cacophony. Non stop foot stomping bhajans from the kitchen and 70s hindi from the garage. Noise made conversation so much simpler; if i did'nt come up with something to say, i would just listen to the music for a while, or i would try the usual- "I love this song". It never went by without someone else exclaiming "Me too!"

    Poornima was sitting on her bed clutching a pillow. I could see a crumpled mass in her fingers. As i took the photo from her hands, she held my hand.
    -I never felt this way before, with Ryan or with the other boys I've been with. This somehow hurts a lot more. Then she stopped and smiled. As you said - Sadness is a wall.

    -Yeah, Sadness is but a wall between gardens.

    Profundities :: 7 comments ::


    Constant Change.

    Warning: Purely technical.
    This is from a series of articles I had written for a journal.

    The only thing constant in this world is change. The truth of this statement hurts.

    Today Tom was in a particularly bad mood, "Think outside the box" he said. Upon a little bit of enquiry at the coffee room, I knew what the problem was. He had a meeting with our director and was asked about the objectives of our project. The screw-up that he was, Tom had blurted out some incongruent rationale, which had been, received none too kindly by the few who were listening. The net result was that Tom himself was now not sure as to what we were trying to accomplish.

    Kevin was peering across a piece of code on my machine when Tom came across us.
    Void SomeAccessor( const Base_t& aBaseClass ) const;
    Void SomeOtherAccessor( Base_t& aBaseClass );

    Const Base_t theBaseClass;
    Void SomeAccessor( const Base_t& aBaseClass )
    //do stuff
    SomeOtherAccessor( aBaseClass );

    The compiler was happily flashing an error message. "Unfortunately, we can’t make SomeOtherAccessor a const function. That code is owned by the core group and we don’t even have access to the source code". Kevin continued "I guess we can try casting away the constness of theBaseClass and see whether SomeOtherAccessor is actually a const function. "Think outside the box, guys, cast the const away" Tom blurted out.

    "There is one small problem with this solution" I started "According to the standard, the behavior if a function tries to modify an object whose const has been cast away is undefined! And secondly, a const_cast, contrary to appearances, cannot cast away the constness of an object that is actually defined const. I.e aBaseClass refers to theBaseClass which has been defined const. Had it been non const, it would be possible to cast away the constness of aBaseClass. The solution is to make theBaseClass a non const."

    Realizing that he couldn’t make any meaningful contribution to the discussion, Tom started walking away "Think outside the box, boys, just get it done".

    "That is very interesting" Kevin said, ignoring Tom. "I had the idea that you could use const_cast to cast away the constness of any object. How silly would I have looked had a tried to do something like this- const int &k; int j = const_cast." I always had a feeling that Kevin felt that his compiler was all too human, my doubts were augmented by this comment about his compiler judging his competence.

    I looked out of my window and smiled. There was a constant in life. An object I declare to be const, come rain or shine, it will remain the same!

    Profundities :: 40 comments ::


    My Private Corner

    Warning: Purely technical.
    This is from a series of articles I had written for a journal.

    The one good thing about being a fresh graduate was that I was given the cubicle by the corner. This was a particularly desolate corner of the office; Tom must have thought that it would be better to keep the novices as far away from his group as possible. I loved my private corner; it even had a small window through which I could see seagulls.

    Meeting in 5 minutes at the fishbowl- the message flashed across my screen. The third meeting of the day, and it was not even lunchtime. I had a suspicion that Tom had some weird quarterly objectives.

    "Everyone should start putting in double the effort" Tom was eyeing each of us in turn- his eyes glimmered for a second when they passed Valery. "From now on, we are going to have daily code reviews". The poor chap who had to bear the brunt of today's surprise was Kevin.

    Kevin, I have a question about the DoStuff function of the BuildBase_t class. It is defined as a private pure virtual function.
    Virtual void DoStuff(void ) = 0;
    How could one create a concrete derived class since this function cannot be overridden in a derived class?

    Tom, as well as the others in the room woke up. Kevin looked at me bewildered then muttered something like access control is independent of polymorphism and carried on. It took some time for realization to dawn on me.

    Access control is independent of virtualness. As I sat there thinking about this, I could hear the voice of my guru "Virtual functions should be treated very much like data members " make them private, until design needs indicate a less restricted approach is indicated. It is much easier to promote them to a more accessible level, than it is to demote them to a more private level"

    Yucks, virtual functions should be created private by default! I couldn't imagine how silly my question would have sounded to Kevin.

    "Kevin, your DoStuff function is incorrectly defined private" this time it was Valery. The DerivedBuild_t class I am working on won't be able to access this function and so can't override it. How am I supposed to create a non-abstract derived class?" Tom looked up from his spectacles and decreed: "Kevin, make that function public". Tom had a twinkle in his eyes as his glance came to rest on Valery.

    Kevin wasn't willing to give up that easily. "Access control specifies only that Derived_t cannot access Base_t::DoStuff(). The function is still 'visible' from Derived_t; it is just not 'accessible' and we CAN override Base_t::DoStuff(). So the above construct is perfectly valid. The only thing to note is that within Derived_t::DoStuff() we cannot invoke Base_t::DoStuff() since this is not accessible. Tom, not too pleased with the condescending tone of Kevin, quickly deflected any culpability to me. "The point of wasting my time on this review is to make sure that the freshers in this group learn good programming practice; tell me what you understand from this" his glare settled on me.

    "Use private virtual if you don't want the derived class to access the base class version of the method; protected virtual if you want to do above. and yeah, avoid using public virtual."

    Profundities :: 7 comments ::


    Cabs and Location Based Services (LBS)

    This is one technology that has me riveted. The more I read, the more I become enamored by the tremendous utility of this technology. Take for example this new cab service which was launched in London - Zingo Cabs.

    When you call this number, you will be connected to the nearest "Zingo"-aware cabbie, and you talk to the cabbie directly to fix the pick up location.

    Zingo locates the position of both taxi and passenger by bringing together mobile phone operators' LBS technology and global positioning systems (GPS) already used in thousands of licensed London taxis.

    kyool, is it? Link

    How about location based advertisement? say what, u might ask...This is a new technology under review in Manhattan. Suppose Macy's wanted to advertise a sale only on Sunday morning and only in a five block radius around its stores: Input this requirement into a software and it would beam the message to all the cabs that are equipped with the electronic billboards; as soon as their positioning devices signal that they have entered the area near Macy's, the sale ads would begin to flash on the L.E.D. screens atop the cabs. If advertisers wanted to communicate in Chinese in Chinatown or in Spanish in East Harlem, that can be done too.

    super kyool, isnt it? Link

    I remember the time I went to this club in Scottsdale called Sugar Daddy's. After three Bacardys and Coke, with head spinning and bladder hurting, I made a dash to the restroom. What ensued was a surreal experience ;) After washing my face, I turned back and looked- there were monitors right in front of the urinals, the advertisements for Hooters was not something I had dreamed up- it had been playing while I relieved myself! WOW! the power of location based advertisement.

    Profundities :: 0 comments ::


    Review: The Millionaire Next Door

    4 Stars: The picture of a typical wealthy household: She drives an Aston Martin, he drives a Porsche. They have caviar and champagne for dinner, fly in their own jets and spend lavishly on shopping. CUT ! It turns out, that this picture is just a figment of the media's imagination- the wealthy in America are not recognizable by what they wear, where they live, and not even by what they do for a living. They are hard working, frugal and live well within their means.

    Who are the weathiest in America?
    Most of the affluent in America are business owners. 20% are retirees. Of the remaining 80%, more than 2/3rds are self-employed.

    What are some of their traits?
    About 80% of the affluent are first-generation afflutent. Millionaires tend to hold advanced degrees- 18% have master's degrees, 8 percent have law degrees, 6 percent have medical and 6 percent Ph.D.s. ( Bobos- remember David Brooks? ). They invest at least 15% of their income.

    What is the secret to wealth-building?
    Being frugal.
    The typical American millionaire reported that she never spent more than $399 for a suit of clothing. About half reported that they had never spent more than $140 for a pair of shoes. Only 24% own new cars. On an avg. they paid 25k on their car.

    What about the lavish lifestyles of the affluent we see on TV?
    hmm... Most people who build wealth in America are hard working, thrifty and not at all glamorous. Would the media hype the frugal lifestyle of the typeical millionaire?

    Will I become wealthy if i start my own business?
    The avg. income for the more than 15m sole proprietorships is abt $5,000!

    Yucks, then how do i become a millionaire?
    Start by being frugal. Have a budget. Invest at least 15% of your income. Be tax savvy. Live within your means.

    Profundities :: 8 comments ::


    Review: Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks

    4 Stars: This book is about the nueveuou rich( i know ive messed up the spelling ) - about the rise of meritrocracy in the US. bobo stands for bourgeois+bohemian( i know this time i got the spelling right; i copied it from the book).

    The demographics of the rich were very different in the pre-world war era. At that time, the admission critereon to get into Harward was your lineage. Brooks goes on to explain how the introduction of standardized tests completely changed this demography. He traces the consequence of this change thru the socio-cultural fabric of society.

    I cant, but stop and wonder at the similar transformation in India: Is India a meritrocracy now? does the meritrocratic class have the highest status in society? what are their traits, their ethos?

    I think meritrocracy is definitely flourishing in India. this class may be rich and powerful, but they dont flaunt it like the aristrocrats of yesteryears.

    What has happened to the old dominating class? the aristrocrats, the upper castes?

    As Marx warned " the more a ruling class is able to assimilate the most prominent men of the dominated classes, the more stable and dangerous its rule". the aristrocracy and the caste system were doomed by their very definition- there was no way they could hold on to power unless they assimilated members of the dominated classes; with meritrocracy this is the other way round!

    Profundities :: 0 comments ::


    Review: Born Confused by Tanuja Hidier

    5 Stars: It is ironic that I start my blog with a fiction book; but this one is right around my alley- Indian diaspora in the United States. At the University of Texas, Austin, I was a teaching assistant at the Asian Studies dept and we offered a research course on the Indian diaspora in the US.

    Did you know that you that almost every other person you meet in Fiji, Trinidad or Mauritius will be of Indian origin? Did you know that there are abt 2m people of Indian origin in the US!

    The fun part is watching the dynamics of this diaspora: some of us can't wait to shed our brown skins, some can't help but remind e'one- did u know who invented zero? (yeah, of all things, zero!). Born Confused is about one little girl born to Indians who decided to settle down in the 'land of opportunity'. Dimple Lala- she is the quintessential ABCD( American Born Confused Desi) Desi is a term of 'endearment' denoting South Asians. Her parents try to arrange a suitable boy for her, as the book progresses, we realize how he becomes suitable to Dimple becz of his sheer unsuitability.

    I should think that by now you are all applause for Tanuja(seeing her picture), but wait till you see how effortlessly her words flow. Quote "Was that a giggle that ridiculed or rather the ballad of uninhibited pleasure? Like me, Kavita ended all her sentences in a question mark, but unlike me, it still sounded as if she knew all the answers and was just acting like she was asking so you wouldn't feel too clueless..."

    I like the way she tells the story of a 17 yr girl and entwines it with profound insightfull discussions on the Indian diaspora, on teenage values, on the acceptance of disparate sexual orientations in the Indian community...

    Profundities :: 1 comments ::


    Passive Digressive

    Routines are made to be broken. I was in a peculiar routine these days: guests, shopping, visiting, again shopping... Now that I've my 'batchelor pad' to myself, I'm surprised by the amnt of time I get to spend on myself!

    What would a dormant soul like mine ( not 'like me' ) do when he gets all this time- just like Forrest Gump, I decided to do something perpetually, day after day, night after night- sleep :)

    Just like Gump, I saw the triumph of innocence over a world of challenges and pain. For days, I forgot the anger around me- the establishment/Busth, conservatives/O'Reilly, religious zealots/Narendra Modi, Jews/Sharon; anyone who wants to force me to confront the ugliness and pain in the world. I don't see in Gump a metally challenged person blind to the world around him and the significance of his actions- I see reflection of fleeting moments I myself feel, but fail to capture; when I resign to accept the status-quo( I hope i spelled it right ). those moments when we realize how inconsequential we are towards releaving the pain, those moments when we just want to digress. I was passive digressive.

    Now I need to break this routine and haul myself to the library.

    Profundities :: 27 comments ::


    Better to have a target before I shoot.

    This blog hopefully, will be about:
    1. Books
    2. People
    3. Current Affairs
    4. C++ and Design Issues.
    5. Profundities ( u will come to know what that means soon )

    I don't intend to write every day; but i'll aim to do 3-4 per week.

    Profundities :: 1 comments ::