28 May, 1453

I would like to take you back to evening of May 28, 1453.  This is the evening before the date (29 May, 1453) that is widely associated with the beginning of the renaissance period in Europe.  The evening before was, in my opinion, much more significant to current events.

As some of you will recall from history class, May 29 signified the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, which at the time was just left with the city of Constantinople (and which we now call the the Byzantime empire) at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.  The Ottomans had laid siege to the city on April 5.  The outcome of the war was not preordained on April 5.  There were several twists and turns, but on May 28, it was known that the city would fall on May 29.

The Romans (Greeks really) had 5000 fighting men, and the city had about 30,000 inhabitants.  What did they all do on May 28, 1453 ?

The prayed.  At the Hagia Sophia.  Together.  And this was a big deal.

Follow me after the jump to find out why.

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The economics of global warming

I have been appalled by the "enlightened" debate currently taking place on the economics of global warming.  I am not particularly surprised by the viewpoints of those who would deny the existence of global warming as a human affected phenomenon altogether ~  nothing better could be expected of them ~ but I am very surprised by those who believe that global warming is a human affected phenomenon, and that something should be done about it.

Please let me explain.

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Fundamental flaw in health care reform

Well, it appears that health care "reform" is taking a few last gasps, and what emerges from Congress will be a watered down bill that meets with Sen. Lieberman's requirements while achieving essentially nothing.

And I say... Good!!

What was being proposed, in all it's public-options and medicare-buy-in glory, was also meaningless.

Let me explain.

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It takes a tribe

I am very uneasy about the President's plan for Afghanistan.  I would like to share my thoughts on that.

The plan, in a nutshell, is to build up local Afghan troops and police, to handover all responsibilities to them, and to leave.  The goal, in a nutshell, is to prevent Al-Quaeda/Taliban/other bad elements from regaining power in Afghanistan, thereby preventing a safe haven where they can plot terror attacks.  Thus, the goals will be met only if the Afghan troops are able to take control, and keep the bad elements at bay.

What is the likelihood of that happening ?  Very slim, according to Afghan history.

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An amateur hitchhikers guide to the President's political agenda.

In my previous diary , I laid out the background relevant to the President's economic agenda.  To summarize

(a)    US consumers like to save 5 to 10% of their disposable personal income.  This number is grounded in the American psyche.
(b)    In the runup to the financial crisis, Americans were lulled by the moneys they were borrowing against rising home values into decreasing their savings rate down to 0.
(c)    Therefore, when the MEW ATM was turned off, US consumers decided to up their savings rate back into the 5-10% range.
(d)    A savings shock of this magnitude has not been felt before (aside from WWII), and it is hard to predict the effect of this savings shock on personal consumption expenditures (PCE).  The rule of thumb around historical data calls for a small decline, but there is considerable scatter in the data affected by various factors (such as confidence in the leadership etc.)
So that brings us to the present.  

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An amateur hitchhikers guide to the past

There has been a lot of (justifiable) angst over the economy, and the recession.  Some have called for the firing of Tim Geithner, and/or Ben Bernanke and/or Larry Summers in order to correct the course.  The justifications are as follows:
(a)    Geithner bungled up the AIG rescue, by unnecessarily giving away 100 cents on the dollar; instead of forcing AIG's counterparties to take a haircut.
(b)    Ben Bernanke (and Alan Greenspan before him) grossly underestimated the magnitude of the downturn, even when every available indicator was smoking out the ears.
(c)    Larry Summers...well, he is just Larry Summers.  And furthermore, Larry Summers went out of the way to mock and ridicule Raghuram Rajan, the most notable Cassandra of the current economic downturn. back in 2005
There are other reasons of course (most notably in my mind ~ would you trust your $13T economy to a man who would shave $42k from his taxes ), but the bottomline is that between the three of them, not one of them got it right.  So why are they running the show ?

Beats me!  

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Elections have consequences..right ?

We all know that Clinton was a good President, and Reagan was bad..right ?  Clinton's policies were good for the economy, and Reagan's were a disaster.  How about the internet (or the "information superhighway").  We all know that the internets have been good for the economy, right ?  And we know that wars are bad, and so we should not elect warmongers.

Elections have consequences...

Right ?

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Brush/floss and cut trees for happiness

I grew up in a small hill station town in central India.  Ethnically, I am a foreigner there ~ I belong to the "Aryan" race, and have lighter skin than the "Dravidians" who inhabited India prior to the Aryan arrival, and who were pushed into the forests while the Aryans built civilized cities next to the rivers.

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A long overdue rant

Please do not read this diary if you are looking for a substantial discussion on the health care reform debate... or even if you are looking for another meaningless addition to the cacophony of voices on the topic.

This diary is a rant on that which we consider to be important, and the difference between that, and what should really be important.

Let me start with a personal nugget as a starting point... I am told that all successful politicians who employ good speechwriters use personal nuggets... since I am not a successful politician, and do not have the funds to research other people's personal nuggets, I will just use mine.  

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India turns a corner

I am delighted by the results of the recent elections in India.  

You may have heard that most people were happy at the results as well, and that the stock markets shot up.  You may have read on various implications the election results would have on US-India relationships, etc. etc.  As a dual US-Indian citizen, I DO take delight in all that.

However, the primary source of my happiness is that the election results prove that India has turned a corner.  It signifies that Indian democracy has nucleated, and that the Indian union is strong, and will only get stronger.

You may wonder why I am celebrating the nucleation of democracy in India, when most people are eagerly awaiting the rise of India as the next big power.  Furthermore, everyone knows that India is the world's largest democracy, etc. etc.  

Well, it is not quite that simple.  And I do believe that the survival of Indian democracy was not guaranteed up until very recently.  Please follow me below the jump, and I will explain.

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