Current Affairs: ‘President Trump Is Right yet He May Be Wrong’ By Musafir

During the recent G-7 summit in Ottawa, Donald Trump cried foul about trade disparity with Canada and their levying stifling tariffs on US products. Trump’s critics went haywire on the U.S. proposing to slap a 25-per-cent tariff on imported steel and a 10-per-cent tariff on imported aluminum. Lots of people in the U.S. were hurt because Mr. Trump flabergasted all innocent, doll faced Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada with harsh criticism about unfair trade on their part. Despite all the criticism and apocalyptic forecasts about repercussion of the Canadian wrath, Mr. Trump is right about the unfair trade. Here are some facts:

Canada charges 245% tariff on American cheese and 298% on American butter above tariff-rate-quota (TRQ levels). Canada provides milk components at discounted prices to domestic processors under the Special Milk Class Permit Program (SMCPP), but charges 275% tariff on the U.S. milk imported by Canada. There are restrictions on U.S. grains imported by Canada. There are barriers to market access by Canadian provinces on U.S. wine, beer and spirits. (Source Export.gov)

There are similar restrictions and tariffs imposed on the U.S agricultural products by the Europeans. I already mentioned those in my previous articles, so I am not going to repeat them here.

However, Mr. Trump’s argument about overall U.S trade deficit may be flawed. To start with, we must distinguish between trade deficit and budget deficit. Trade deficit may not be necessarily bad whereas a long term and out of control budget deficit may be cataclysmic.

Trade deficits are not a sign of unfair trade practices or a lack of American competitiveness. This shows the willingness and affordability of the Americans to buy products from foreign countries. For example, we buy coffee from Starbucks because we want to and can afford so. We don’t expect Starbucks to buy things from us of equal value. Thus, this transaction cannot be deemed unfair.

When Americans buy imported goods, foreigners must do something with the dollars they earn. They can either use the dollars to buy American exports or invest in American assets, such as Treasury bills, stocks, real estate, and factories. One reason for a trade deficit is that the deficit country is growing faster than its trading partners. Faster growth attracts investment dollars, which, along with rising incomes, allow the deficit country to buy more imports on the global market.

Mr. Trump should be more worried about our country’s budget deficit instead. Fiscal (budget) deficits arise whenever a government spends more money than it brings in during a given fiscal year. If the deficit arises because the government has engaged in extra spending projects – for example, infrastructure spending or grants to businesses – then those sectors chosen to receive the money receive a short-term boost in operations and profitability. However, if the deficit arises because receipts to the government have fallen, either through tax cuts or a decline in business activity, that can be disastrous in the long run.

All government deficits need to be financed. This is initially done through the sale of government securities, such as Treasury bonds (T-bonds). Individuals, businesses and other governments purchase these bonds and lend money to the government with the promise of future payment. So, the day of reckoning will come when the U.S. will have to honor the promised payment.

The scary part is that a major portion of U.S.A’s collection goes towards the payment of interest on money that it borrowed. This is just like an individual paying interest alone on credit card debts.

Total government debt has real and negative long-term consequences. If interest payments on the debt ever become untenable through normal tax-and-borrow revenue streams, the government faces three options: cut spending and sell assets to make payments; print money to cover the shortfall; or default on loan obligations. We all know what happens to countries who print money to meet their spending. We don’t want to become another Venezuela. Do we?

 Oct 18 G-7 2
Advertisements

Book Review: THE SOUL OF AMERICA: The Battle for Our Better Angels Author: Jon Meacham Publisher: Random House, 416 pp.

mechamAccording to Meacham, we are living under political fear in a broken political system. However, Mecham chronicles the history to convince us that this is nothing new. The politics of fear had been prevalent many times before and we always survived them as a nation. This is because of the greatness of America’s soul and that is the message of his book.

Though Mecham gives full credit to Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr’s efforts, unlike many writers who overlook the contribution of President Jonson, Meacham praises LBJ for his efforts in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He aptly quotes him, “There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.”

Meacham chronicles other momentous developments: women’s suffrage, ignited at Seneca Falls and fueled by Susan B. Anthony (“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal”); Teddy Roosevelt’s “melting pot” view of immigration; the rise and fall of populists Huey Long and Eugene McCarthy; Franklin D. Roosevelt’s contribution to the nation — “a spirit of optimism forged in his own experience.” Time and again, Meacham mentions Trump as a counterpoint — a figure, because his presidency “has more in common with reality television or professional wrestling,” who stands in stark contrast to “past presidents [who] have unified and inspired with conscious dignity and conscientious efficiency.”

Meacham believes the USA will get over the present disunity. All in all, this is a good read to reacquaint oneself with American struggles for justice and equality.
-Reviewed by Musafir
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Author: Jordan B. Peterson
Publisher: Penguin Random House, 480 p.

Jordan Peterson says nothing in his book, “12 Rules for Life” that has not been told before. His maxims can be summed as: “Pursue what is meaningful, not merely what is immediately expedient. Stand up straight and face the world with courage and confidence. Get your own life in order before you go out and try to save the world. Treat yourself like a person whom you are responsible for. Tell the truth.”

The very fact that the book is the best seller currently, tells us that we all needed to hear them again as a refresher course in life. Peterson expounds on those 12 rules in twelve different chapters. He weaves nice stories to establish premises before coming to the conclusion. Though an interesting read, many a time his stories do not relate to the conclusions he draws.
I particularly like the first chapter of the book where he compares human neurophysiology to that of the lobster, while making the point that we exist in hierarchies that are at least partly explicable as evolutionary patterns. His advice is then to “stand up straight”, following the example of the body language of dominant lobsters.

In this era when women’s rights and issues are dominant, Peterson draws attention to society shaming males and looking at masculinity only in pathological sense. He speaks against the movement of devaluing fatherhood and other male paternal qualities.

His message can be summarized as realizing personal responsibility, meaning and purpose should be a central part of life’s journey regardless of the outcome.
-Reviewed by Musafir

Reflecting Reality: ‘Black and Underprivileged’ By Roop Raj

“These people just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find a way to succeed. Oprah did…” How often have you heard this? Every time crimes happen in inner cities, this cliché suburban conversation hits social media.

We have to stop. This dialogue widely ignores a problem; gives no room for solutions and is plain nasty. To make my point, let’s travel way Far East for a quick look at a centuries old problem. You’ve read about class issues in India – A caste system. A social ladder in which people are placed in boxes and told what they will become in life. If you’re born into a caste in which people make clothes, then you will end up doing the same job and, probably, be cajoled into marrying someone who makes clothes too.

Sure, there are people who rip free from the caste system. But millions more are stuck. It’s all because of who they were born to and where Indian society, with careless complicity, allows people to land.

 

That’s happening 10,000 miles away. But let’s not pretend it’s not happening here. It is. It’s happening right here in Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and many other AMERICAN cities. Young boys and girls are born into poverty and are growing up without air conditioning, clean water, books and most importantly, they’re often born into a society that won’t give them a chance.

I was recently covering the murder of a young man on the streets of Detroit. It was Memorial Day. While you were likely grilling or attending a parade, a young 17 year old man who watched his friend get killed ran out of any hope he had when he woke up that morning. He yelled, crying while putting his shirtless chest up against an officer. He asked him to shoot him. He asked them to arrest him. This is a teen who faces the same reckless abandonment the neighborhood homes are facing. Blighted homes and wrecked childhoods share the same street corner. There were beer cans and syringes littering the sidewalk.

Compare and contrast. I grew up in Troy. The only syringes I saw growing up were at the doctor’s office. The only empty beer cans I saw were the ones people recycled at Kroger. I didn’t have to deal with what this young man has to see. I had AC, heat, books, computers, and three square meals a day. Level playing field? What game are we playing here? So before we pull out our favorite “he pulled himself up by HIS bootstraps” token stories, let’s think about the fact that some people don’t have shoes, much less bootstraps to pull themselves up by.

Working hard and not having a lot growing up is one thing. Growing up in a neighborhood that is short on hope and high on drugs, knives and guns is different. We should all care. If we can’t do anything to help, let’s at least make sure we aren’t marginalizing the real struggles these kids face. After all, most people rolling their eyes at inner city kids have had three meals a day and a bed to sleep in. Easy to say when your belly is full and your clothes are clean. Oprah is amazing. But she’s an exception. Let’s not forget about the rule.

The late Bill Bonds came to my high school back in 1994. I interviewed him from the $36 million dollar newly built Troy High School. He asked a question that haunts me every time I cover a crime scene. “Ask yourself, would you be where you are today if you grew up poor and Black??” the newsman asked. We have to ask our privilege and ego to step back to get a clear answer.

Back to Memorial Day. I wish that young man well. Detroit Police exercised amazing restraint even as they were being pushed. It took friends and the teen’s mother to calm him down. I went home, slept, woke up and actually wondered if that teen would survive this summer. I pray he does. I wish for him one thing. It’s something I wish was as easy to find as the drugs anBlack unprivilegedd guns loaded in his neighborhood. I wish him hope.

(Roop Raj is a Fox news anchor/reporter at WJBK in Detroit)

Essay: “Road That I Took” by Musafir

aniloffice2I got a week off recently due to illness and hospitalization to spend time with myself, which is always a wonderfully centering experience for me. I love my alone time. I took the time to introspect about some relationships in my life.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about accepting favors and its consequences. Asking favor gives rise to interpersonal maneuvering, jockeying over who owns what to whom. It is the beginning of a social contract setting up a power relationship.
We have all sought or accepted favors from others sometimes in our life. Whenever we take a favor from someone, we lose, at least, some of our self-respect and sell a part of our soul to the person doing the favor unless and until the favor is reciprocal and immediate. I think it all comes down to empowerment. By taking favor we empower the giver to take control of our life to some extent depending upon the level of favor received.

Seeking favors is very common in the old country where I come from. People live a life of humiliation and subjugation to the powerful who can bestow favors on the weak. Favors are needed there at every step of daily life whether it is getting an income tax certificate or obtaining driver’s license or getting death benefits. At least that’s the way it used to be when I was growing up

Coming to America, I noticed that the Americans don’t accept favors without reciprocating. They don’t need anyone’s favor for fulfilling their daily obligations in the first place. The Americans, invariably, go Dutch when having a meal in the restaurants. Whenever I bought coffee for them, they returned the favor immediately or the next day. They don’t take ride without sharing the cost. I remember when I bought my first car, Mark, a neighbor of mine and then my co-worker in Indiana wanted to share ride to work with me. Coming from the old country, I gave him the ride the first day. He insisted that it was his turn to give me a ride to work the next morning. When I declined the offer, he filled the gas in my car and said, “I did my part.” He never asked for a ride again.

Later I found out that this came to them (the Americans) from their Christian value: “But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” -Genesis 33:10.

Now I avoid favors from anybody including my friends, siblings or children. Should this become unavoidable or seem disrespectful to deny, I always make sure to reciprocate in kind or cash. As I mentioned above, taking favor empowers the giver to deride the taker. It has happened to me in the past. I have often noticed sudden rudeness and disdain in the attitude of the favor-giver. Having to ask for favors puts you in a weak position. You expose a deficit (which the favor is supposed to fix) and you empower the other party to make a yes-no decision. Either way the other party comes out stronger and looks down upon you as a weaker person. The taker owes a debt of gratitude and the burden of future reciprocation. Awareness of this debt keeps many people from asking for favors in the first place, if they can at all avoid it.

There are some favors that cannot be avoided, returned or reciprocated. When a child is born, he/she has no other means to survive but depending on parent’s or caretaker’s mercy. One has to accept that this kind of favor cannot be repaid. A human being is born indebted to his parents/caretaker as they have propagated their lineage and are the cause for birth. According to Hinduism, “Pitri-rin” (debt to parents) cannot be repaid. Your parents brought you into this world, protected you when you were weak and frail, fed you, clothed you, taught you, and even tolerated you. So, how is this debt repaid? Therefore, we should be always respectful and humble to our parents/care-givers.

I have felt that self-reliance is an important source of strength and energy. It keeps e me in high spirit. It gives me courage to do anything. A man with self-reliance is bound to overcome the difficulties. He is never fazed in the face of any difficult situation. He is ready to do whatever is assigned to him. He is honored everywhere. Self-reliance should be the guiding principle of our life, ideals, and aspirations. I don’t want any puppet strings trailing behind me. It has taken great courage and a lot of practice to learn how to take it off and let my self-worth stand on its own.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one that dared me to try,
And that has made all the difference.” –Frost (Road Not Taken)

Friday Fun: ‘Stop Press’: Musafir

shooting

(A note: There was a school shooting in Santa Fe, TX on Friday. We are numb to it. Enjoy the royal wedding!)

As soon as the world got over the frenzy of the fourth royal baby to William and Kate, the news came that William’s younger brother cuckoo Harry and one time ‘Deal or No Deal’ model, Meghan will tie the knot on Saturday at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The royal wedding is throwing the world into another hysteria of psychedelic kind.

The world’s richest welfare recipients are going to have a bash at taxpayers’ account. The magazine covers and 24-hour cable networks are force-feeding us with every ridiculous details about them. Good for nothing Prince Charles, a synonym for failure, may be up for a Nobel Peace Prize for offering to walk Meghan down the hall in her father’s place.

Meanwhile, the dying children in refugee camps of Syria have been asked to take a day off while the Royals would be feasting with their 500 hungry guests. One infamous celebrity who is having Marie Antoinette syndrome said, “Hungry children die every day but Royal weddings take place only once in five years.”

Fans are going gaga over filthy-rich live out their self-serving lives. Lip readers are going to have a record business revealing the jokes Harry and Meghan will share during the marriage ceremony. Australians are almost as loony as the British over the parasitic royals who are nothing more than the English equivalent of the Kardashians.

The women in Britain are cleaning their ovens in time for the Royal Wedding. They are unable to decide what to wear during the wedding. I think I’ll probably settle for a blindfold and earplugs.

If you are like me, you can make your home a royal wedding free zone. Here is how to do that.

1. Disconnect your cable for two weeks and save money. You will not miss anything and may be accumulate another million over a lifetime. Of course, it will depend on how much life you are left with.
2. Place a posters around your house saying, “Royal wedding-free zone. Please refrain from discussing the royal wedding. We’re not interested in it. Let’s talk about your own marriage instead – or something more interesting.”
3. Put a charity box in your living room and declare, “Anyone who mentions the forthcoming nuptials will have to divvy up $10 in the charity box.” We did the same for Kate and William when they got their fourth child. We raised about $400.

Who cares about the newly-weds emerging at the West Steps of the Chapel and kissing interminably on public demand. You are better off watching Ursula Andress’ kisses from Dr. No and Casino Royale (1965). The Brits obviously want it, so good luck to them, but spare us all the hype.
.
Have a nice weekend!

Friday Fun: “Sweet Dreams Mr. Pence!”- A Caricature by ‘Musafir’

Pence

Last night Mr. Pence, our dreamy-eyed VP had a strange dream: President Trump was considering America pulling out of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He called it the worst deal ever made. “I’ve seen a lot of bad deals in my life, but this is a total mess,” Mr. Trump said. “We need to tear it up and start over.”

He further added,”This Declaration is against American values and is bad for America. It’s bad, really bad. Believe me.”

Trump was scathing in his remarks about the Declaration proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.

Trump denounced the agreement by saying, “It was agreed upon by a Democrat named Harry S Truman and it was signed in Paris just like the Paris Environmental Accord. Both were totally unexpected things. Terrible. Honestly, terrible.”

“No one in his right mind would force it upon the Americans,” he said. “Our newly acquired friend, Kim Jong-un and my long time idol Putin don’t have it. Both of them are watching us like they never watched anybody before. That I can tell you.”

He stopped short of accusing his predecessor, Barack Obama, of imposing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on our people. “Unfortunately Obama is still working behind the scene to keep this bad

Deal because he knows that it’s bad for America. I mean bad, bad, bad. “This should have been handled eight years ago and four years ago and, honestly, 70 years ago. Something like that, right?”

Mr. Trump’s another newly acquired friend, Kenney West supported him issuing the following statement, “Emancipation of slavery was bad enough for our nation and now we have to tolerate the tyranny of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We don’t need human rights because we chose not to have it.”

Kim Kardashian endorsed the above statement by adding her own, “Kenney and I discussed this serious matter in the bath tub last night while smoking weeds together. I absolutely agree with Kenny. We will not be dictated to by the European Union and Syria or Bhutan. What have they done for us lately?”

Mr. Trump’s newly chosen member on his law team, Mr. Giuliani, said this on the Hannity Show, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a ploy to thrust refugees and illegal immigrants on us. And you know how much Mr. Trump hates refugees and Mexicans.”

The next morning Mr. Trump twitted, “Giuliani is a good man. He’s a brilliant man, but sometimes his frustration for losing a chance to become the Secretary of State comes haunting him. “He’s doing a good job. He is doing a good job. He’s only been there for, what, one month or something like that, right?”

Mr. Trump called on the European Union and other participants to examine and revise the Declaration on Human Rights within 90 days. If they didn’t change the declaration to America’s advantage, he would pull America from participating in that bad deal.

He said, “They are ruining the game, right? They are ruining the game. Look, that’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit. I told them to revise the declaration to limit the refugees coming to America only from Norway, Sweden and Finland and we’ll admit immigrants only from Australia, Poland and Ireland. I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist. Believe me, I’m intelligent. Some people would say I’m very, very, very intelligent.”

He repeated “We’ll be winning so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘please, please we can’t win anymore, we beg you, and we don’t want to win anymore”

Mr. Pence woke up from his dream in the morning and asked, “How is Mr. President today? Is he impeached yet?”

‘Soul Searching’ by Musafir

Carl Sagan, “Your Holiness, what if we were to prove, scientifically, that there is no such thing as reincarnation?”

     The Dalai Lama, “How would one disprove reincarnation?”

Call me an agnostic or call me confused, but I have always beheld the concept of reincarnation with cynicism. According to Hinduism, the soul is indestructible and it may return in a new body after death based on one’s karma in the past life. The cycle of rebirth continues until the soul is liberated (moksha).

The problem with reincarnation is twofold: 1) we have, as of yet, no way to verify it prospectively in an objective manner, 2) we have no mechanism to explain how reincarnation might occur. I have had discussion on this topic with several local scholars. They couldn’t satisfy me with their answers. Suddenly, I came across a story last week that made me sublimate to a different rationale. What if the concept of reincarnation were true? After all, we don’t know everything!

The story goes as follows: Once there was a set of twins in a mother’s womb. One of them was agnostic and the other was a theist. The agnostic didn’t believe in the concept of Divine Mother. He thought that delivery was the end of life. After that there was nothing but darkness and void.

The other twin believed in the benevolent Mother whom he would meet after delivery and she would take care of him. He thought that the world outside the womb would be brighter and there was certainly something out there that would release them from the constraints of the umbilical cord.

This story got me thinking. Yes we are infinitely lesser than miniscule in big schemes of things. Our universe is miniscule compared to multiverse and I don’t want to go beyond that. According to the German mathematician, Philipp Cantor, no matter how large a set you have (infinity), it is always possible to produce a set bigger than that. I don’t want to go there either. That shows the limit of my comprehension.

A theologian who was also a scientist explained the concept to me this way: According to the Newton’s law of motion and quantum theory of fields, all matters interact with each other via the fundamental forces of nature, and are constantly moving and changing following the field equations. All matters are, therefore, impermanent but indestructible.  Similarly, when we die we become building blocks of another life.

He even went further in explaining that the information of an object is encoded in its wave-function, and it evolves in such a way that the total information is never lost. This implies that when we die, all the information about “self” is permanently preserved. It merely gets scrambled up with other information and transferred elsewhere. It could likely becomes contained inside the consciousness of another living.

One scholar explained to me the concept this way. Death is similar to the malfunctioning of a television set or radio. The fact that a TV or radio is broken does not mean television and radio stations have ceased to broadcast. In other words, energy that runs TV and radio is similar to soul that lives in human body. It doesn’t cease to exist. It only gets transferred to another device (body).

There is one difference though. Energy that we use for devices is continual whereas a soul gets liberated. The Hindus call this Moksha. The Buddhists call it Nirvana. Moksha, from a salvation perspective, means liberation, emancipation, and release from the death-rebirth cycle of reincarnation. I take the liberty to look at Moksha from a philosophical point of view. To me, it means reaching self-realization, or fullness of life.

That’s all I understand with my limited intellect. All the above may be true but it’s too profound for me. “There will be an answer, let it be, let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.” –The Beatlesreincarnation

Commentary: ‘Finding Happiness in the Little Things’ by Musafir

IMG_0933

My pair of sunglasses is a source of joy in my life. It has been with me for the last thirty-two years. It has a perfect tint to soothe my eyes; its lenses are scratch-free, anti-glaze and progressive. It is light; rests gently on my nose and never gets out of style. Above all, it’s very faithful to me. I have lost the pair several times, sometimes for months, but it has always found a way to return to me.

I remember, it was the summer of 1987 when I accidently dropped it from the inside pocket of my jacket in the plane while removing the jacket from the overhead compartment on my arrival at New York. It was quite an expensive pair considering my income at that time. I felt distraught and miserable without it. I always missed it especially when driving.

It so happened that I visited New York again on a business trip a month later. On my way back at the LaGuardia airport, I had more than an hour at my disposal. I decided to go to ‘lost and found’ since I had nothing better to do at the time. Cell phones and the Internet didn’t exist then. Reaching the desk, I asked the attendant if he had seen my sunglasses. The gentleman just went inside without saying a word to me and returned with two boxes full of blinkers and said to me, “Choose one!”

Lo and behold, my pair was sitting right on the top of one of the boxes looking at my bare eyes and screaming, “Where have you been? Take me with you now.” At least, that’s how it appeared to me.

The joy that I felt from our reunion can’t be described in words. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Later I lost the same glasses for a year in a company car that I was driving. When the car was sold to a dealership as a company owned vehicle, the dealer found it underneath the seat. After tracing the origin of the car, they sent the glasses back to me. It was certainly a pow-ow moment.

I lost it once again in India in a jewelry shop. The jeweler sent the glasses back to me COD (cash on delivery). Though it cost me a lot in postage, it was worth “like an endless fountain of immortal drink.” (Keats).

One time a friend invited me to dinner and asked if I knew someone who might be looking for a pair of sunglasses that was left at his home last year. Of course, it was none other than my own pair of specs that I had lost earlier. As usual, getting it back was like finding a long lost friend.

If I wanted I could have found reasons to hate my sunglasses too. First of all, it gets lost so often. Secondly, I have poured a lot of money to keep the pair- $2,000 (U.S.) to be exact after the allowable insurance amount. I initially bought it (including lenses and frame) for $800. In the last 32 years, the lenses have been changed three times due to new prescriptions costing me additional $1,350 (approximately $450 each time) on top of my vision insurance eligibility.

Tomorrow I’ll spend another $450 on my favorite pair as my prescription changed again last October. I waited six months for my insurance to kick in again in April. I have lived without my dear friend long enough.

I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow morning when I’ll go to the optometrist to get my glasses back. After all, there is something to look forward to in life, to love and be loved.

Current Affairs: ‘What’s the Fuss about Facebook?’ by Musafir

july 18 current

In the past, before the social media companies such as Facebook emerged, companies used to have tangible assets. Social media companies mostly have intangible assets. In the past companies used to produce products and services that were value added. In contrast, the products of social media are nonvalue added. Value added in reference to products means the amount by which the value of an article is increased at each stage of its production, exclusive of initial costs. Value added in service industries means having features added to a basic line or model for which the buyer is prepared to pay extra.

In the past companies including Microsoft and Apple were started with a definite idea, software and hardware. Facebook was started as fun and tease. In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg, a second-year student at Harvard at the time, wrote the software for a website called Facemash. He put his computer science skills to good use by hacking into Harvard’s security network, where he copied the student ID images used by the dormitories and used them to populate his new website.

Interestingly enough, he had initially created the site as a type of “hot or not” game for fellow students. Website visitors could use the site to compare two student photos side-by-side and decide who was “hot” and who was “not.”

Zuckerberg, who is still in his early thirties had no idea that someday he would create a company that would grow into eighty billion dollars market value and that his own worth would reach 66 billion US dollars so fast. So, it is not fair to judge his mistakes by a traditional standards. None of the Senators who grilled this young man could get hired by Facebook. They are not smart enough. It’s not entirely Mr. Zuckerberg’s fault, if the lawmakers didn’t foresee the need for any kind of regulations for social media companies. It has been close to 14 years now. One wonders what were they (Senators) doing other than playing dirty politics?

Facebook didn’t ask for any government subsidy or bailout. Some tech companies, such as Tesla is partially funded by the U.S. government. Many sick manufacturing and environmental companies were propped up with tax payers’ money.

Yes, Facebook made some mistakes. In 2007, for instance, it launched a program called Beacon that tracked people’s habits on the Web outside of Facebook and then provided the data to Facebook advertisers. In 2010, the company was caught selling data that could be used to uncover the real world identity of Facebook users.

Congress still doesn’t get it. The Senators gave little indication last week that they knew what form those laws and regulations would take, or whether they could even be enacted without becoming overly burdensome. In the end, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook will have to make changes but Congress appeared uncertain over how and if the government should step in.

Watching Senate hearing produced lots of levity though. Here are some excerpts:

Sen. Orrin Hatch asked how Facebook is able to sustain a business model while running as a free service, and Zuckerberg was barely able to keep a straight face when he responded, “Senator, we run ads.”

Sen. Brian Schatz asked Zuckerberg if Facebook would be able to see if he “emailed” someone over WhatsApp. When Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp is encrypted, and that other companies are not able to read encrypted messages, Schatz asked if he would get Black Panther ads on Facebook if he messaged someone about the movie through.

Sen. Chuck Grassley: “Mr. Zuckerberg, can you change Snapchat back? My granddaughter won’t stop complaining about it. Also, what is a Snapchat?”

ZUCKERBERG:”I am ready to answer any questions you might have about Facebook
SENATOR: “Excellent. Mark Zuckerberg my Farmville farm needs more pigs but I cannot figure out where to purchase them.”

USA Today’s editorial on April 10, 2018 summed it up nicely, “Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before a Senate panel on Tuesday could be summed up in two sentences: “I’m sorry.” And “we’re working on this.”

Humor: “The Anonymous Shredder by” Musafir

It took me years to comprehend and digest why people function so differently in the corporate world as compared to where I was coming from. Whether we like it or not, corporate world is not the real world. In order to ensure you don’t take too much time in finding your footing in this space, I’m sharing with you some insider unwritten rules of the game. This comes from my experience of working with top ten fortune 500 companies for nearly fifty years.

Those who have worked in the corporate world know that it is a kind of jungle, where there are only two ways to survive. First, take risk and get yourself noticed and secondly, hide in anonymity. The first option is easy, therefore, most of us follow that. They either survive; get to the top, or become road kills in the race of unachievable. After all, it is not easy to keep on the right side of one’s boss. It is very uncomfortable to anticipate their every whim, and laugh at their pathetic jokes.

The second route of survival is being anonymous which is not easy either. You have to be a cockroach like Shreedher to do that.

During a routine reorganization at our workplace, my boss and I were going through the org chart. My boss stopped me and asked, “Who is this Shreedher guy? He is supposed to be an employee here, but I don’t see any phone number or cube number assigned to him. Go and find him.”

Not finding a trace of Shreedher in our office area, I decided to take the help of the Personnel Manager, Miss Heart Warmers.

“Do we have any employee working for us named Shreedher?” I asked her.

After looking through the names she asked me, “You mean Shreedher Supersad?”

“Sounds like him.”

“Well, he is a male and was employed five years ago as a manufacturing engineer. Why? Did he die or something?”

“I don’t know Miss Heart Warmers? We are just trying to locate him.”

Exhausting our search, we decided to look in the basement. Suddenly, I heard a sneeze coming from behind a pile of cardboard boxes. I went there and found a man sitting at a desk holding a shredder.

“Who are you?” I asked

“Oh I am Shreedher Supersad,” he answered.

“How long have you been hiding here?” I asked.

“Not hiding. I work here since the day I was hired,” he chirped.

I took him to my boss. My boss asked him, “What do you do?”

“I shred papers,” Shreedher replied.

“You are a manufacturing engineer. Why do you shred papers?”

“My first boss called me Shredder instead of Shreedher and assigned me the task of shredding all the old reports and documents. That’s why.”

“Why didn’t you correct him?”

“If the boss keeps calling you by the wrong name, you should change your name to match the one he is using. One should never attempt to correct his boss.”

“What do you shred now?”

“Whatever I find around me”

My boss was so confused that he assigned him to work under me.

Next morning, I brought him into my office and said, “I want to bring you to the regular work life where you’ll find windows and sunshine. You have been suffering in a claustrophobic environment for too long,” I suggested.

“No, I like the basement. I want to stay there,” pleaded Shreedher.

“But why?” I asked

“I am afraid that some guy in a three-piece suit is going to walk in, slap an anniversary pin on me, and tell me that I am fired. That’s why.”

“Listen Shreedher, You’ve been warming the bench too long. You are an engineer. I am going to assign you a real job. Our plant in Kokomo, Indian is having frequent machinery and equipment breakdowns. I want you to go there and do a reliability and maintainability study.”

Shreedher started trembling and said, “I am afraid of walking into a manufacturing plant.”

“Listen Shreedher, you have to do some real work. If you don’t, I’ll have to take some action.”

The next day Shreedher came to work, but was not speaking a word. I knew that he used to have vocal cords, but they suddenly died.

So, I took him to Miss Heart Warmers. She put Viral on disability leave.

“We value the wellbeing of our employees. You gave him too much stress that is not right. You need to create a congenial work environment for our employees,” Miss Heart Warmers lectured me.

On Shreedher’s return from disability after three months, I decided to leave him alone and assigned him his old job of shredding papers.

Soon after that I accepted another assignment in the corporation. About fifteen years later after my retirement, the company hired me as a consultant in my old facility. Meanwhile, the company went through bankruptcy and restructure. Thousands of employees were let go.

One day I went to the basement of my old office for nostalgia sake. I heard someone breathing under the piles of cardboard boxes. On my approach, Shreedher jumped out of the pile.

“Shreedher, are you still here?” I asked in shock and amazement.

“Yes, he squeaked.”

“So, you survived all the turmoil and bankruptcy of the company?”

“Yes, when you lay low, the storms pass over you.”

“What do you do now?”

“Same old, I shred papers. After all, they call me the Shredder for nothing.”

“Yes, you do your work and do the best shredding anyone can do. I’ve learned a lot about the art of anonymity from you. When I’ll write my next book on corporate survival, I’ll have a chapter on anonymity dedicated to you.”

We hugged and parted our way.
July 18 humor 2