I am scattered

, never having been in a comfortable center. All the people enjoy themselves, as if they are at the festival of the great sacrifice, Or climbing the Spring Platform. I alone remain, not yet having shown myself. Like an infant who has not yet laughed. Weary, like one despairing of no home to return to.

My Photo
Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vanity plates/plateholders = civil driving

Many a time I have been on the verge of behaving badly towards another motorist on the road having been annoyed with their bad driving.
However, because my alma mater, Purdue University, is on my license plate holder, in 95% of those cases, I behave nicely because I don't want the other driver to hate Purdue and then cheer against the Boilers at some bar when a Purdue basketball game is on. Wierd huh?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm dreaming less and less...

...and not happy about it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

While Americans subsidize new Israeli settlements, Israel chokes access to education in the Palestinian territories

25 Aug 2008 14:27:11 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Adam Entous

JERUSALEM, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The United States says Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threaten any peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- yet it also encourages Americans to help support settlers by offering tax breaks on donations.

As Condoleezza Rice flew in on Monday for another round of peace talks, Israeli and American supporters of settlements defended the tax incentives, which benefit West Bank enclaves deemed illegal by the World Court and which the U.S. secretary of state has said are an obstacle to Palestinian statehood.

Reuters - US tax breaks help Jewish settlers in West Bank

19 Aug 2008
Source: Haaretz
By Mijal Grinberg and Fadi Eyadat

Anwar al-Qazaz, 41, sent his eldest son to the market last weekend to buy school supplies for next year for his younger sisters. "He returned home with his sisters and told me there was nothing. No pens and pencils, no notebooks, and no school uniforms," he told Haaretz yesterday.

"I don't know what we'll do now," the unemployed father of 10 added. "Maybe wait for them to bring stuff in from Israel or Egypt. But the products that come from Egypt are expensive." Staple foods do reach Gaza, Qazaz said, but prices have skyrocketed because demand outstrips supply.

Haaretz - Despite truce, still no sign of school supplies in Gaza

8 Sept 2008
Source: SabbahBlog
By Zohair M. Abu Shaban

A few weeks ago when I went to the Erez Checkpoint between Gaza and Israel, I was told by the Israeli official that I could not leave unless I collaborated with the Israeli occupation. I refused. My conscience and my people’s right to freedom and equal rights mean more to me than even the finest education.

U.S. officials came to my aid. They held special visa interviews along the Israeli-Gaza border for me and two other Fulbright scholars in a similar position. The U.S. granted my visa. Once again I could imagine taking my seat in a lecture hall in America. I packed my bags, bought souvenirs for my future friends in America and bade farewell to my family.

Then came a phone call that changed everything. My American visa had been revoked based on secret evidence provided by Israel. I cannot see the evidence and so have no opportunity to contest it.

What carrot did an Israeli security official dangle before another Gazan’s eyes, or what torture tactics did he use to manufacture information he could use against me? However it happened, and for whatever reason, the outcome is the same. Despite my abhorrence of violence, I am being penalized.

What troubles me most, however, is not my own personal plight, but the effect this experience has had on my talented younger brother.

After watching what I have endured as an innocent and politically unaffiliated student, he has concluded that he will no longer pursue the educational dream outside of Gaza he once held. His horizons are closing.

SabbahBlog - Israel Turns Gaza Into Prison For UConn Fulbright Scholar

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why rednecks may rule the world

Great piece by the author of "Deerhunting with Jesus"


Why this woman isn't getting my vote!

"Mrs Palin enjoys moose-hunting and salmon-fishing - and has said her favourite dish is moose stew."

She EATS my kind! What have us large gentle animals done to deserve her redneck wrath?


Who is Tiri?

Tiri is a small organization with a gargantuan task, fighting corruption in developing countries, especially those that are in a post-conflict phase. Their stated mission is "working collectively and individually to raise integrity standards everywhere, in both public and private institutions, in the belief that by so doing successfully we will assist processes of sustainable development and the reduction of poverty."

Tiri was founded in 2003 by Fredrik Galtung and Jeremy Pope, two founding members of Transparency International (TI). TI is the global civil society organization against corruption and publishers of the TI annual Corruption Perceptions Index. I used data from TI's CPI for my graduate research on the link between export concentration and corruption. In Tiri, Galtung and Pope hope to teach a new generation the skills to foster integrity within institutions. With 15 employees and headquarters in London and Jerusalem, Tiri is a decidedly small enterprise. Their clients include businesses, governments and IGO's with most of their work in Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia.

Link to Tiri

Link to TI's 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Good week 1 for Purdue quaterbacks in the NFL

This Sunday afternoon, Drew Brees & New Orleans Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later that night Kyle Orton & Chicago Bears beat the Indianapolis Colts. Good showings from both quaterbacks. Moose is happy!

Whats happening with the US government and Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac?

First of all, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the GSE's (Government Sponsored Enterprises) that guarantee nearly half of all US mortgages, have NOT been nationalized. That requires an act of Congress. They have been put under "Conservatorship" of the FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency), their government regulator. But don't let the "conservatorship" language fool you into thinking that the goverment will nurse them back to health and then let them go back to being private entities, which currently is the stated objective. It could also be that Fannie and Freddie eventually become nationalized and the current conservatorship be more of a receivership.

Below are the details of the conservatorship arrangement:

1.) Current leadership is replaced.

2.) GSE's get access to loans from the treasury, secured against their assets till the end of 2009.

3.) Treasury gets a $1 billion "fee" from the GSE's in the form of preferred stock and the right to buy 80% of the firms' common stock at a nominal price.

4.) GSE's lobbying apparatus (responsible for much of what went wrong) is shut down and can no longer lobby lawmakers.

5.) Treasury becomes buyer of last resort for GSE bonds, meaning if no one else buys them on the open market, the treasury will, potentially opening the treasury (and taxpayer) to substantial losses from the acquisition of large volumes of toxic paper.

Fannie and Freddie played an important role in greasing the mortgage market and the government wants this role to continue. As such, the size of their portfolios will be allowed to grow untill the end of 2009. From 2010 however, they will be forced to shrink their portfolios at the rate of 10% a year untill they reach an as yet undefined "less risky size". This is critical because the whole reason for the government intervention was that the two posed an unacceptable risk to the US economy due to their massive size.

The GSE status in the main reason Fannie and Freddie came to be so huge. Because of it, they were able to sell notes and securities at a lower yield than strictly private financial institutions, eliminating competition and leading to them becoming a duopoly in the conforming loans market.

The GSE's ONLY deal in what are called confroming loans. Up untill March of this year, a mortgage had to be $417,000 or less to be a conforming loan and this was the national limit. This really hurt people living in more expensive areas as Jumbo loans (loans over the conforming limit and which Fannie and Freddie don't deal in) carry a higher interest rate due to lower liquidity in secondary markets. Given the disparity in home prices between different parts of the country, I never thought this was fair or made much sense. However, in March 2008 the legislation to make the limit regional (with a maximum regional limit of $730,000 and a minimum regional limit of $271,000) was passed as part of the economic stimulus package.

I Googled what the conforming loan limit was for my region (DC / Northern VA) and according to this website we are at the maximum limit of $729,750. Yay for us!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I love KAL's cartoons!

Kevin Kallaugher is the cartoonist at the Economist magazine. Week after week, he publishes the most creative and poignant cartoons on current international politics and economy.

Link to the KALLERY

Nehru on Kashmir (from BBC)

The builder of modern India and its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, spoke about a plebiscite in Kashmir and independence for the state with its defence guaranteed by both India and Pakistan.

And Mr Nehru's letter to the maharajah of Kashmir four months after India's independence in 1947 was also chillingly prescient.

"It is of the most vital importance that Kashmir should remain with the Indian Union," he wrote.

"But, however much we may want this, it cannot be done except through the goodwill of the mass of the population.

"Even if military forces held Kashmir for a while a later consequence may be a strong reaction against this.

"Essentially, therefore, this is a problem of psychological approach to the mass of the people and of making them feel they will be benefited by being in the Indian Union.

"If the average Muslim feels that he has no safe and secure place in the Union, then obviously he will look elsewhere. Our basic policy must keep this in view, or else we fail."


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Nice run but it's over now (hopefully)

2008 may be the year Roger Federer finally falls from the World's #1 perch that he has held for so long. He has lost 2 matches in a row now, one against Nikolay Davydenko in the Aussie Open semifinal and the more recent against Andy Murray in the Dubai Open opener. Additionaly, he lost a very recent match playing Pete Sampras in a exhibition event.

Why do I hope this is the case? Because I'm sick of non-competitive semifinals and finals in majors events. This guy may be a great tennis player but hes not much fun to watch. He has a somewhat robotic game, with not much emotion or flair to speak of. His probable replacement, Nadal, plays way more expressive tennis. But thats not terrribly important. Whats important is Federer's invincibility is over. The predictability of his matches is over. The predictability of major and minor opens is over.
With all the new talent hitting their strides and established players going in and out of form (Take Roddick right now), tennis at the very top is going to be exciting to watch again!