Sunday, June 15, 2008

High Oil Prices

The first two oil shocks banished oil from power generation. How fitting if the third finished the job and began to free transport from oil's century-long monopoly.

The oil price | Recoil |

This explains Saudi’s scramble to increase its output to record levels and call for emergency meeting for oil exporting countries. The record high oil prices are counter productive to both producers and consumers. While consumers suffer higher expenses, producers risk lower future consumption due to shift to alternative sources of energy or breakthrough in technology.

The question to be asked is what causes high oil prices? The natural answers points to supply and demand. Increasing demand by emerging economies and limited supply causes the increase in price. But there is a lot of finger pointing to speculators. What is the role of financial speculation in oil prices? Some attribute speculation to 40% of the price of oil and the rest due to supply and demand. This is hard to prove since speculators do not take actual delivery of oil which is the argument that their effect is minimal. No matter what the cause is, oil producers should be on alert as high oil prices are not necessarily good news. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rowling's Harvard Speech

On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

Rowling's Harvard Speech Doesn't Entrance All : NPR.

I had to read J. K. Rowling’s (famous author of the Harry Potter series) speech to Harvard’s graduating class of 2008 twice to really appreciate it. The first theme of her speech was on the benefits of failure.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

The second theme was on the importance of imagination, not only for works of literature but to feel for those who are less fortunate than us and hopefully extend a helping hand. 

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

She ends with an insightful Roman wisdom.

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

On Losing

This post is on losing. It is inspired, if there is such inspiration for loss, by the crushing defeat of Roger Federer in the French Open final today. Being a Federer fan, in case you haven’t noticed, I was shocked with such a poor result and so disappointed. I know it sounds silly but I feel emotionally entangled with his performance! So I reacted with anger and the first thought that occurred to me was wow maybe with this result he should join the juniors’ competition next year! Then I thought heck let him join the girls competition and let Nike make him a nice pink dress!!!

After a while I started thinking more rationally. Losing big is not the end of the world. Some of us have their fair share of big losses. It is no reason to despair, because if anything it means you are out there trying. As long as you believe in and enjoy what you are doing, one day success will come along, and even if it does not it is no loss.

Despite Federer’s big loss today he remains the number one tennis player in the world. This applies to the rest of us: even when we experience loss or failure we remain number one to our families and loved ones. I also realized that being number one is not to best everyone else; it’s doing your best!

So go on Roger be your best and I am sure you will get the best of it all. As far as I am concerned, I will watch sport for entertainment and not to get worked up. I need to save my energy for things that matter so that I too can do my best! 

Monday, June 02, 2008

Free Dress Day!

French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has died at the age of 71, hailed as a 20th century cultural innovator who revolutionized the way women dressed.

French fashion king Yves Saint Laurent dies - Yahoo! News.

In memory of the French fashion designer, Islamists Members of Parliament here in Kuwait decided to lift their ban on western dress and not walk away during the next session of parliament at the sight of our fashionable female ministers.

However, some women activists threatened to conduct eulogy session for the French designer. The ministry of interior threatened all fashionistas attending with charges on the basis of breaking the country’s uniform. Also it is rumored that the deceased French designer was behind the hijacking of our traditional values and dress code that is inspired by a black tent covering women from head to toe.