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Reading Update – Mid-February 2013

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Unlike my previous reading updates, I will dispense with oft-repeated excuses why I’m not reading more. The excuses will be the same and will continue to be same until I say otherwise. Nevertheless, in keeping with my new year resolution, I’ve been reading much more.

So without further ado, here is my reading list as of today:

  • An Empire of Wealth by by John Steele Gordon
  • The Litigators by John Grisham
  • The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
  • Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
  • The Instant Economist by Timothy Taylor
  • Francona by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy

Two of the books are leftovers from my June 2012 reading list, but I’m proud to say I finished three out of the five listed:

  • Special Assignments by Boris Akunin
  • Travels With Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski
  • The Islamist by Ed Husain

Trying to get into the habit of reading more than one chapter – of reasonable length, of course – a night. More on the weekends and whenever free time permits.

I will also be augmenting my reading by listening to unabridged audio books I picked up for a song at a local discount store. Since my drive to and from works is about 90 minutes, I should better use the time for edification rather than listening to repetitive sport talk radio. One can only hope, of course.

My reading list doesn’t include countless magazine and news articles, blog posts, white papers, and things I find via social media.

I will no longer give a target on when I will finish the books as I will be automatically setting myself up for failure. Better to let things happen when they happen.

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Written by niraj

February 15th, 2013 at 11:45 am

Wall Street 2: The Teaser Trailer

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Check out the teaser trailer for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps:

It looks awesome!

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Written by niraj

January 28th, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Review: Marx for Beginners

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Rius. Marx for Beginners. New York: Pantheon, 2003. 160pp.

Many people know about Karl Marx and what he stood for, but how many people, including his many admirers and critics, actually understood the man and his revolutionary ideas? In my opinion, not many, including those who unabashedly call themselves “Marxists.’ Not surprisingly, Marx’s ideas are impenetrable by even the most intelligent of people. Very few understand Marx, and even fewer who successfully translated his thinking to the general public: reading and comprehending Marx is simply beyond the ability of mere mortals. Marx’s ideas are a knotty mess of philosophy and economics, written in the turgid, confusing prose that is the hallmark of many intellectuals. So a book like Marx for Beginners is a welcome antidote, as it explains Marx in the simplest way possible—through cartoons.

The book is illustrated and written by Rius, a pseudonym used by famed Mexican cartoonist and left-wing political activist Eduardo del Rio. The book is only 160 pages or so, but Rius encapsulates Marx’s ideas in a tight, unsparing format, not wasting time on ephemeral matters but focusing on main ideas that made Marx an icon of the left. Rius gives us a biography of Marx, his influences, explains the philosophical underpinnings of Marx’s ideas, and Marx’s blueprint how the proletariat (the “working” class) can seize power. Naturally, Marx was no lover of democracy, which, for him, was a bourgeoisie concept.

Though this edition was published in 2003, the book was originally published in 1975. This explains the many references to Chile and snide attacks on the United States. Obviously, the author was bitter about the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile and American imperialism in South America in general. Never mind that Allende was planning to turn Chile into another Cuba. But that’s a debate for another day.

Marx for Beginners is not intended to be a comprehensive, or even an exhaustive, look at Marx. That is just not possible. This book is a primer, of sorts, a kind of jumping off point. Because to understand the man there is no going around reading the man’s various works. A bit of a warning: reading Marx is only for the heartiest of souls and not for the faint of heart. And I’m not writing this review as a supporter of Marx. Hardly. But you cannot deny the man’s influence on history; and to understand the world today you have to understand Marx.

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Written by niraj

October 22nd, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Two Families Got Seperate Ways

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Another two families have vacated their condos in my building, both for economic reasons: one could not afford to stay; and the other could afford to leave – by buying a house at a bargain basement price.

For those lucky enough to have a secure job, and a healthy bank balance, are in prime position to buy real estate, especially a primary residence. Still, the building is starting to feel empty.

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Written by niraj

January 8th, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Slew Of Books On Sub-Prime Mortgages

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As is my habit, I browse Amazon.com for the latest in books, DVDs, and music. Books about the sub-prime meltdown are already starting to come out.

Nothing sells books like misery.

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Written by niraj

June 11th, 2008 at 8:37 am

Pipe Dreams

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I believe India is foolishly staking its energy needs on this potentially troublesome IPI pipeline, which it has agreed to in principle:

Pakistan and India have principally agreed to resolve fundamental issues of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and committed to start the construction work next year.

The most pressing concern for India, of course, is energy security since the pipeline will traverse the restive province of Balochistan, a hotbed of insurgency and unrest. Can Pakistan guarantee that the pipeline will not be harmed in anyway?

Regarding security Khawaja Asif said there is no security concern to the pipeline as we have made precatuionary measures to protect it. He said the gas pipeline will come from Iranian Balochistan along with coastal route and joint Nawab Shah in Sindh.

Then this happens:

Unknown saboteurs blew up two gas pipelines supplying gas to Och power plant and Punjab in two different incidents in Malguzar area of Jaffarabad and Doli area of Dera Bugti districts in the wee hours of Sunday, police sources told APP.

If Pakistan cannot keep its own pipelines secure how can it protect the IPI, which India is desperately relying on to slake its thirst for energy? Proponents will say the IPI pipeline will bind India and Pakistan, forcing to them to work closer and, hopefully, reduce tensions. Perhaps. But I believe Pakistan will also use it as a cudgel to force India’s hand on issues like Kashmir.

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Written by niraj

April 29th, 2008 at 8:49 am

Startup Financing Cycle: A Graphical Primer

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A picture is worth a thousand words. I found (via Wikipedia, of course) a great slide that explains the venture capital funding process.

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Written by niraj

April 28th, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Left Front’s Suicide Pact

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The CPI-M offers its prescription for the rising cost of commodities in India:

  • Strengthen the Public Distribution System by universalizing it; restore the cut in food grain allocations to the states under the PDS; include 15 essential commodities including pulses, edible oil, and sugar in the PDS.
  • Put curbs on procurement of foodgrains from farmers by private companies and traders.
  • Ban futures trading in 25 agricultural commodities as proposed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution.
  • Cut customs and excise duties on oil and reduce retail prices of petrol and diesel.
  • Take stringent action against hoarding of essential commodities; strengthen the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to empower state governments to deal with hoarding and black-marketing.
  • The present requirement of declaration of stocks of foodgrains of 50,000 tonnes and above held in godowns and warehouses should be lowered to 10,000 tonnes.

It’s a recipe for disaster, if you ask me. Government intervention, of any kind, may be a viable short-term solution, but in the long-term it will only end in disaster.

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Written by niraj

April 25th, 2008 at 10:09 am

China: Friend Of The Environment?

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No one kisses China’s ass more than The Pakistan Observer, whose editorials are nauseating for their sycophancy, if not outright worship of the Red Dragon. In its latest editorial, it heaps praise on China’s new found concern for the environment:

The world today is facing grave threats due to unplanned, reckless and irresponsible development that has produced serious ecological and environmental problems for the mankind. Most of these problems are the direct result of the blind pursuit of material development by the West, which is still not prepared to take bold and vital steps to save the globe from impending disaster. In this backdrop, China deserves credit for bringing leaders and experts together to discuss the crucial issue of how to improve environment of Asia. This is timely initiative in view of the fact that after Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, countries like China and India too are moving swiftly on the path of industrial growth raising concerns about environmental issues.

If China wants to improve the environment, it should look in its own backward. According to The Guardian, no friend of capitalism, China is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, and it’s only going to get worse. Many of China’s major cities live in clouds of pollution so toxic residents have to wear masks. And in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, China has banned thousands of automobiles from Beijing in order to improve its air quality.

It is quite obvious that the developing countries, which are at the receiving end, cannot spare adequate resources to undertake comprehensive programmes for promotion of environment and therefore, it is responsibility of the rich and developed nations to provide them financial assistance as well as transfer technology for the purpose.

Interesting. Is The Pakistan Observer saying that China– with over $1 trillion in foreign reserves and arguably the second largest economy in the world– is still considered a developing country, and that developed countries (code for the West) should give it resources to improve its environment so China can continue its economic growth at no cost? Ridiculous, simply ridiculous.

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Written by niraj

April 14th, 2008 at 10:25 am

US Recession Coming To India?

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According to The Hindustan Times, Indians are concerned about the U.S. economy:

The McKinsey survey says that 83 per cent Indian executives polled felt the US recession would negatively impact the Indian economy and business, and 74 per cent felt it would have a negative impact on their industry and business. Fifty-five per cent Indians polled felt that there have been significant increases in the links between the Indian and US economies in the last three years.

When most of your I.T. industry is geared towards outsourcing, what ails America will eventually ail India.

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Written by niraj

April 6th, 2008 at 7:26 pm