Friday, November 15, 2002

Courage or stupidity...?

What is the heights of stupidity? What is the heights of courage? Are they one and the same? I wonder if some one can be termed as stupid, if he courageously ventured to do something without analysing risks. I ask this because while reading about the World War II fighter pilots this distinction is hard to make. Fighter planes in WW2 were hastily put together for war purposes. In fact when WW2 started America didn't have a proper fighter. They did have a few but German ones were far superior. Now coming back to the stupidity question... would any sane person take on five fighters at the same time?

Remember in those days there were no laser guided missiles that would lock on to the target and do the damage. Instead the fighter had to get behind the enemy plane and fire the heavy machine guns that were fixed on either side of the wings. The range of these guns were about 500m max. There would only be a small supply of ammo in the planes. The aircraft could fly at 300km / hr max and wings would get ripped if they crossed 400km / hr when they dived. So fighter combat in those times was extremely difficult even on a one on one basis. So to take on more than one at a time would be stupidity. But during WW2 many people took on 4-10 enemy fighters at a time to show their courage (and of course many never lived to tell the tale).

Ok let me move away from fighters. Here is something totally different and its a true story which happened a few decades back. It takes lot of hard work to be admitted to do a Masters degree at Oxford - and that too if it happens to be English. During the year you go through rigorous course material etc and there is one final exam which will decide your fate. In one such exam, which was essay based, the examiner asked only one question. What is courage?

Naturally every student went on a writing spree and took loads of additional answer papers filling them with examples of what courage meant. Except for one student. His answer was just one word: This!!

He handed in that answer paper and got full marks. But the more I think of it, the more I ask - is that courage (to hand in an exam paper with only word) or is that stupidity + risk? Or is that plain smart? Would I give full marks (or any marks) for my student?

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Bushmen of America...

"You are either with us or not with us..." Remember this idiotic statement by Bush that divided the world into unequal halves? Well well, ever since then I have been wondering which side Bush is on. Ok in order to really drive home my point I would have to delve into Bush's family history. So people who don't like politics are hereby warned to proceed at their own risk.

Of course what I state here is all drawn from the internet and I wouldn't claim that they are my individual research works. All I am trying to do is to project Bush's double standards. In times of war it is well known that countries freeze the accounts of enemy country corporations. On Oct 20, 1942 the US government froze the assets of Union Banking Corp in NY city. Prescott Bush, the grandfather of our very own Dubya, was the director of this venture and the other major share holders were E Harriman and three German Nazi executives. This Harriman, in many other articles, has been pointed out as the financier for Hitler. (Ah! the plot thickens!!). Of course the corporation was shut down because of trading with the enemy - and some articles say they continued to trade by defying the orders.

Therefore sleeping with the enemy is nothing strange for the Bushmen. Arab people are attractive because of the black gold they possess and naturally one of the richest family in Saudi Arabia - the Bin Laden family - attracted them. How this connection developed is quite a long story. Senior Bush was the director of the CIA well before he became the President. During that time one of his buddies was James Bath, an aircraft broker and a portfolio manager for Sheik Mahfouz's money. This sheikh was the largest share holder of BCCI -yep, the same bank that went bust because of scandals involving drugs and smuggling. Investigations revealed that Bath had invested loads of money in Bush's oil ventures.

There are several cases of how Bush makes his money by selling his oil stocks just before a disaster happens and I will not delve into them. One prime case is its investments in the Harken's Corporation - where Bush sold his stocks just before the Gulf war and made a whooping amount. The Sheikh I mentioned before, supposedly known as the "Kings treasurer", had also invested in Carlyle Group - a defense related company. Senior Bush was on the Board of Directors of this company. Mahfouz was also the money manager of Bin Laden family. As you can see this is all a big muck up and they are all circulating their funds with each other. Another thing is that Caryle was financed by Osama’s elder brother, Salem and that both presidents Bush had lucrative stakes along with the bin Ladens in Carlyle Corporation, a small private company which has gone on to become one of America's biggest defence contractors. The bin Ladens sold their stake in Carlyle soon after September 11. One of major investors in Carlyle is UNOCAL (aaah.. how enlightening!!).

Well I'm tired of writing this. So I will end here. I am sick of looking at this war on terror, which is basically all about oil and money in reality. Oh yeah.. while reading all this I found some interesting links to Clintons links to China. Maybe one day when I am in the mood I will write "Adventures of Clinton in China".

And yeah.. don't ask me the sources. Just search for key words on Google and you will find dozens of backup support for my arguments.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Yesterday I nearly forgot that it was one of my close friends' birthday and I remembered it only around 5pm. Her name is Sita and she is from Bangalore doing some fashion designing course. Her mobile was off when I called her up and so I called up all my other friends. We quickly decided to give her a surprise outside her college since we knew that she had classes till 7pm. It was all a bit of a hurry and I was charged with the responsibility to get the cake and candles and stand in front of the college.

So I buggered off and by 7:00pm I was juggling at the corner of busy Oxford street station with a cake in one hand, umbrella in the other and a bulky jacket weighing me down. The others soon joined and after 15 mins this gal crawls really tired out of her classes to be shaken by our "Suprisssseeee!!!" cheer right in her face. She literally jumped out of her skin and was literally in tears when we sang her the birthday song and asked her to blow the candles out... all this right on the street!!.

After the usual pleasantaries we decided to go to Wagamama in Soho to have dinner. They serve Japanese style food but also include other types. We were all famished by the time we got in and so ordered loads of stuff. My order came first and everyone dipped their chopsticks in the bowl of ramen. Japanese food is a bit bland so we had to add quite a bit of chilli sauce and stuff like that to build it upto our taste. All in all - a great evening.

But one thing made it really special. When we all left - she hugged all of us at the same time and said "Guys, thanks a lot" and you could see she really meant it from the light in her eyes. I think friends play a really big big role in bringing smiles when we are far away from home :-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

College life...

The best part of college life (depending on how you look at it) is the lack of money. Its that time in our life when we truly value money more than anything else. During my college days in LSE, I would literally go out to super markets and search for packets of noodles that were on discount. I bought toothpastes that would come with a free tooth-brush. In fact I remember once going into a shop to buy something on sale and unfortunately the sale had got over that day. So I wrote a check for £0.55 while the girl on the till machine gave me this bizzare look. My most prized possesion was my student id card because it got me 33% discount for movies and travel. If you were not broke - then you are rich!!

Of course the hostel rooms were another thing. When I first walked into the hostel room I saw some of the stuff that my old student had left behind (like stickers on the mirror) and they were still there when I vacated the room. I think its a sin to expect students to be clean. In all my college life I probably cleaned my room only a handful of times. Taking showers was for the previleged few who could get up early, who had finished all their assigments and readings, and actually liked to get wet. Mac burgers that were lying on the table for last two days was not only acceptabel but still considered to be edible. Coke and other drinks ofcourse never have any expiry date on them.

The public telephones in the hostel corridors were more of a play gadget - people pressing 999 (emergency police number) and swearing the hell out at the listener. One person I know dialled 999 and complained that he couldn't peel the orange properly and he needed urgent help. Another person dialled and said he couldn't screw the bulb in and he needed to hand in an assignment and so this was an 'emergency' call. Of course the cops never turned up.

I could go on and on... but will end with one message. Those of you studying at colleges - enjoy your life. Play pranks on friends and teachers and of course study (in that order). You will miss that life a lot once you start working. :-)

Monday, November 11, 2002

Learn to be an optimist in life... like this fellow ;-)

This was one of the earliest puzzles in my life: half circle, full circle, half circle, A ; half circle, full circle, right angle, A. It took me a long while to figure out the answer for that.

In 1886 John Styth Pemberton, a medicine man and a heavy dopey person, mixed some cocoa nuts, leaves, caffeine and other such stuff in a bathing tub, stirred it with wooden oar and called it Coca Cola. His accountant Frank Robinson, an amateur calligraphist, worked out a logo for his friends backyard drink in just under a minute and to this day Coca Cola uses it. When the drink first came out it was more of a hangover drink rather than thirst-quencher (and rumours were that it was also an aphrodisiac). A year later its founder, in order to clear his debts, sold 2/3rd's of his invention for an exact sum of $283.29. And by 1900's the formula for Coke had changed hands two more times and by 1919 the Coca Cola brand was worth $25 million.

Obviously, as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and hundreds of people came out with non-sensical drinks but with similar names like: Co Kola, Coke-Ola, Coke, Koke, Klu-Koo-Kola, Pepsi-Cola, Afri-cola etc... In the first 25 years of the 20th century Coke fought over 7000 cases of patent infringement and won all the cases except one of them - the case against Pepsi Cola (which was established by CD Bradham in 1898 mainly to combat dyspepsia). Pepsi went bankrupt twice in its initial years before bankers came to its rescue and at one time went on to grow bigger than Coke because of its numerous other brands - like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Coke has also had its share of face loss. It had launched Coke flavoured cigars which quite bluntly put was a disaster.

Today Coke is sold in 195 countries - in contrast to United Nations which has only 191 members, and is the second most universally understood term in English - next only to "OK". There are two things I like - one is Coke and the other is French fries. I am now doing a bit of reading on French fries history... and when I get enough info, I will post it here :-)

So... did you figure out the answer to the puzzle that I mentioned before ;-)
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