No Ayaz and other morons, civil society isn’t going to take a rest

A lot of stuff written in Pakistan english newspapers is written in a language which is not exactly english, so here’s my translation into simple english of Ayaz Amir’s latest, in which he first accuses people clamoring for a change for the better for being powerless fools than asks than to stop speaking as the government, courts and army can’t function faced with all that noise. Onwards to the ill-logic which passes for opinion pieces these days:

The lawyers’ movement fostered many illusions, none more powerful than the myth that there was something called civil society in Pakistan, good people out to do good and inspired by the best of intentions. Retired bureaucrats, professors of academia in search of a cause, society girls and begums, and frustrated politicians – a politician who fails to get elected or who has nowhere to get elected from is a study in frustration – became the standard bearers of civil society.

Ayaz here says that tis no civil society in Pakistan, and only self serving washed up has-beens try to achieve any good. The cynical worldview and lack of ethics is disgusting – Ayaz says here that all of the many people involved in Pakistani society who tried to make a difference either didn’t exist and throws a bucketful of scorn on them anyways.

At the end of the day, whoever fights for a good cause, in whatever fashion, is more worthy than people like like Ayaz who make fun of them.

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Of Weblog software and twitters

This is the 500th post on that blog! There have been more but various bloggy housekeeping deleted a bunch some time ago..

It is only fitting that 500th blog post is actually a “twitter link.”: This weblog runs Movabletype, which died a while back and now I’m sick of the rotting smell. So until I get around to modernizing it, that thar twitter feed below is the new microblog…

In case you missed it, here it is again: “”:

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Dubai bankruptcy 2009

Dubai finally goes bankrupt – but the interesting part here isn’t about the country going on a building spree and not being able to pay for it – that part was clear a long time ago – but the test Islamic financing is going through.

Dubai financed part of its debt binge through Sukuk bonds – a short version is that a special entity is created which ‘owns’ the asset, and ‘rent’ is paid to the bond holders in that Sukuk.

Whats the difference between regular financing and this Islamic financing? Nothing really, except for one interesting aspect – the bond holders can be paid a ‘lesser’ rent if the asset isn’t performing. With regular bonds, the interest has to be paid, rain or shine, or you’re in defualt.

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The deadweight loss of Bakra Eid

The gift giving season which is Christmas is just around the corner, and once again billions of dollars are going to waste:

bq. in general, people spend a lot more on presents than they’re worth to those who receive them, a phenomenon called “the deadweight loss of Christmas.” A deadweight loss is created when you spend eighty dollars to give me a sweater that I would spend only sixty-five dollars to buy myself.

The full paper “The deadweight loss of Christmas”: – is a short, and interesting read.

While economists estimate that up to a third of the value of gifts exchanged at Christmas is lost, as the receivers value the gifts lower than what the giver bought them for, Bakra Eid is a bit like Christmas where everyone buys and receives the same gift – meat!

While there are other, non-economic benefits to the production and giving of the traditional Bakra Eid gifts, as an economic activity Bakra Eid is more akin to the Titanic, with all the hard work and effort required to save up a 100 billion rupees wrecked, with a few hardy survivors gobbling down their gifts, and the vast majority seeing all their hard earned cash slaughtered, with a few choice pieces of meat left at the end.

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The ISI, once again in the news

Kevin Drum calls “the ISI the scariest group in the world”:

bq. I’m not absolutely certain who my choice for scariest group in the world is, but if push came to shove it probably wouldn’t be al-Qaeda. It would be the ISI, Pakistan’s main intelligence service.

He’s probably right. The “New York Times reporting on the latest to surface about the ISI”:

American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.

The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

…The government officials were guarded in describing the new evidence and would not say specifically what kind of assistance the ISI officers provided to the militants. They said that the ISI officers had not been renegades, indicating that their actions might have been authorized by superiors.

p. All this is something “Ahmed Rashid has been saying for years”:, most notably in his last book, “Descent into Chaos”:

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Dating service provider to match voters to politicians

This is too sad to be true. After finding out that “Pakistan has outsourced it’s voting lists to Canada”:, a little googling on the internet revealed that the the voting system is being prepared by the same guy of a popular “online dating and match making system –!”: It is so appropriate – I … Read moreDating service provider to match voters to politicians

Creationist Nonsense

bq. When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution’s truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere–except in the public imagination.

Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense: :: *Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don’t hold up.* Based on the Bible, the universe was created about “six thousand and 9 years ago”:, so it stands to reason that evolution isn’t possible for so many people the world over.

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Internet Censorship the Pakistani way

On March 2nd 2006 the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to block 12 websites. This list was in addition to the hundreds of thousands of websites which Pakistan already blocks. Up till now, most internet users in Pakistan had never really cared to speak up about this censorship, but this new blacklist caused millions of personal websites hosted at Blogspot to be banned. There are hundreds of Pakistani websites hosted at Blogspot, so this action by the government led internet users to form an action group against this ban.

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Wind, Sand and Stars

!! This book is number 1 on Outside Magazines list of The 25 (Essential) Books for the Well-Read Explorer and National Geographic magazine also named “Wind, Sand and Stars” the third best adventure book of all time. So it had to be good… and turned out to be jaw droppingly amazing. This is not just a book – it’s sheer poetry. See Outside magazine’s review below:

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