Saturday, October 19, 2002

Auditors are a funny lot. I know this because I had aspired to be one, only to be cut short by my repeated failures in chartered accountancy. Its funny how everyone moans about the dismal infrastructure in our country but no one wants to pay for the taxes but infact will pay the best auditors to minimise their taxes. They will spend on 10 lacs on a car but will think twice to pay Rs.10,000 as tax. Anyways here is a joke on auditors… let me have a go at my friends who went on to become CA’s ;-)

Three auditors who have retired from their professions are sitting in a park enjoying an evening. During the course of discussion they talk about their clients and how well they represented everyone etc…

The first auditor says, “I had a very notable client who ran a bakery business and it was thriving but due to tough economic conditions he started making a loss. Surprisingly one day a fire broke out and his whole business got ruined. But he was well insured and so he got all his money back and now he is living happily”.

The second auditor goes, “Yes even I had a big client who operated a leather business and that too was thriving but due to labour union problems he started making a loss. Surprisingly one day a fire broke out and his whole business got ruined. But he was well insured and so he got all his money back and now he is living happily”.

The third auditor goes, “Mine was a big client who operated a newspaper business, which was thriving but due to rising print costs he started making a loss. But he kept working hard but it was his bad luck and one day lightning struck his building and his whole business lay in shambles. But he was well insured and so he got all his money back and now he is living happily”.

For a few moments there is silence. Then suddenly the first two auditors turn to the third fellow and ask “how did you create lightning?”

Friday, October 18, 2002

Fight against terrorism? Surely there must be a mistake...

US supported Bin Laden and the Talibans for years, and viewed them as freedom fighters against the Russians. As late as 1998 the US was paying the salary of every single Taliban's official in Afghanistan. Why were they so friendly? Hate for Russians? Not really because Russia had collapsed long before. The fact is that there is more oil and gas in the Caspian Sea area than in Saudi Arabia, but you need a pipeline through Afghanistan to get the oil out. In fact quite recently America signed an agreement with the oil rich Azerbaijan to allow an American oil company to build a pipeline from there to the sea coast through Turkey. The fact is that it is too close to Iraq and Kurds.

Likewise Unocal, a giant American Oil conglomerate, wanted to build a 1,000 mile long pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea. Unocal spent $10 billion on conducting geological surveys for this project and had very nicely courted the Talibans for their support in allowing the construction to begin. All of the leading Taliban officials were in Texas negotiating with UNOCAL in 1998. See this link for more proof. If you are interested read the whole thing and you will see how the good American relatioship with Taliban turn sour.

Somewhere between 1998-1999 the Talibans changed its mind and threw UNOCAL out of the country and awarded the pipeline project to a company from Argentina. Then John Maresca, VP of UNOCAL testified before Congress and said no pipeline until the Talibans was gone and a more friendly government was established. And that is when America got its act together and between 1999-2000 The Talibans became the most evil people in the world. Senior American officials in mid-July of 2000 told Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October 2000. Wait a minute who is this Niaz Naik? The same guy who was doing shuttle diplomacy during Kargil? Read more about him here and here. Also reailse that Naik happened to be a diplomat in Nawaz Sharif's government and continues to be close to Musharraf.

Then comes the 9/11 WTC disaster. I am just mentioning this but I will not make any guesses or links to anything because it is too sensitive. But terming it as 'Pearl Harbour II' Bush goes to war against Afghanistan even though none of the hijackers came from Afghanistan. And within a couple of days, with hardly any leads, Bush blamed Bin Laden but has never offered any proof saying it's a "secret". Talibans offered to negotiate to turn over Bin Laden if we showed them some proof. But the fact of the matter is that Osama had put pressure on Talibans not to cut any sort of deals with 'Zionist Americans' (as he calls them) and the deal had already been given to someone else. The attack had two reasons - one to destroy any chance for the Argentinian company to continue business there; the other was to make sure Osama didn't get involved again.

Now we have a new government in Afghanistan headed by a new leader that half of Afghanistan had never heard of before. Hamid Karzai, though from Afghanisitan, had formerly worked for UNOCAL. The US even lobbied that he should get Nobel Peace prize! In fact even the special envoy to Afghanistan, Mr Lakdhar Ibrahimi, was also a former employee of Unocal.

That the Bush family as a whole has been involved in oil business for last few decades is no secret. Even now, George Bush Sr works with the "Carlysle Group" which specialises in huge oil investments around the world. With over $6 Trillion dollars worth of oil in the Caspian Sea area, the US government quietly announces Jan 31, 2002 we will support the construction of the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline. Musharraf and Karrzai back this, and the new gas pipeline will go through Afghanistan.

A second backup pipeline signed with Azerbaijan is getting ready. But to safeguard their interests, Amercia needs to get rid of Saddam and install a 'friendly' government.

Ahem.. so let me say this again. Fight against terrorism? Surely there is a mistake...

I wrote this after a friend of mine, who is a coloumnist, shared her thoughts on Afghan war and gave me links to read about it.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

When I was in school at Kodaikanal my english teacher, a lady who strongly fought for women's rights, made us read this article.

If Men Could Menstruate

by Gloria Steinem

A white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking that a white skin makes people superior - even though the only thing it really does is make the more subject to ultraviolet rays and to wrinkles. Male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis envy is "natural" to women - though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb envy at least as logical.

In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be, are thought to be better than the characteristics of the powerless - and logic has nothing to do with it.
What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

The answer is clear - menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.
Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties. Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts. Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields - "For Those Light Bachelor Days," and Robert "Baretta" Blake Maxi-Pads.) Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve in the Army ("you have to give blood to take blood"), occupy political office ("can women be aggressive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priest and ministers ("how could a woman give her blood for our sins?") or rabbis ("without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean").

Male radicals, left-wing politicians, mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different, and that any woman could enter their ranks if she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month ("you MUST give blood for the revolution"), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment. Street guys would brag ("I'm a three pad man") or answer praise from a buddy ("Man, you lookin' good!") by giving fives and saying, "Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!" TV shows would treat the subject at length. ("Happy Days": Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row.) So would newspapers. (SHARK SCARE THREATENS MENSTRUATING MEN. JUDGE CITES MONTHLY STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.) And movies. (Newman and Redford in "Blood Brothers"!)

Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself - though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man. Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets - and thus for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month? Liberal males in every field would try to be kind: the fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life or connecting to the universe, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine traditional women agreeing to all arguments with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly. "Your husband's blood is as sacred as that of Jesus - and so sexy, too!": Marabel Morgan.) Reformers and Queen Bees would try to imitate men, and pretend to have a monthly cycle. All feminists would explain endlessly that men, too, needed to be liberated from the false idea of Martian aggressiveness, just as women needed to escape the bonds of menses envy. Radical feminist would add that the oppression of the nonmenstrual was the pattern for all other oppressions ("Vampires were our first freedom fighters!") Cultural feminists would develop a bloodless imagery in art and literature. Socialist feminists would insist that only under capitalism would men be able to monopolize menstrual blood . . . .

In fact, if men could menstruate, the power justifications could probably go on forever.
If we let them.

ps: this article was written by Gloria - herself a woman's rights activist. The article first appeared in "Ms. magazine" in 1978.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Test your wit :-)

1. What do you put in a toaster?

2. Say "SILK" five times. Now spell "SILK". Ok... what do cows drink?

3. If a red house is made from red bricks, a blue house is made out of blue bricks, a pink house is made out of pink bricks, a black house is made out of black bricks, what is a green house made of?

4. If on a clock, the hour hand moves 1/60th of a degree every minute, then how many degrees will the hour hand travel in one hour?

I have put the answers in the 'comments' section. Please don't look at the answers before you try all the questions. Lets see if anyone gets all of them correct :-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

When TV first came to India in the form of Doordarshan, there was one thing that I really enjoyed watching - advertisements. But once the cable made its foray into our lives remote controls, which hitherto was just a free gadget, came of some use. Unless the ad was good we would just surf the channels. In fact I think remote controls have been the bane of quite a few family feuds; while the daily soap is being aired there is usually another soap happening within the house as to who should control the remote ;-)

Yesterday while watching TV I saw this ad: Use 'new' and 'improved' Head & Shoulders shampoo for a bouncier and dandruff free healthy hair. Something about that ad was odd and it took me a moment to figure it out. How can something 'new' be also 'improved'? Or for that matter how can something 'improved' be also 'new'? These guys certainly take us for a ride.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Alrighty fellows... today I am really busy. But I wanted to share this funny photo with all of you. It appeared in Dawn - a national newspaper in Pakistan. So not much blogging from me... except this photo.

I have switched the photo with a link because it stalls the page from loading quickly
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