Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Need for Confidence

 

Confidence, or what Keynes called “animal spirits”, is vital for economic health. It takes confidence for businesses to hire workers or invest in machinery and equipment; managers need to believe the economy will be strong enough to make such investment justified. It takes confidence for savers to put their money in the bank, on the assumption the bank will be around to return it to them. It takes confidence for consumers to take out loans to buy houses or cars, on the assumption they will be employed long enough to pay the money back.

The importance of maintaining confidence | Weaken the sinews | The Economist

As markets continue to plunge everywhere, officials in Kuwait continue to insist that all is well. The world is going through a financial crisis and we are not isolated. Wouldn't it be better if officials admitted this and pulled all the resources to ensure the safety of our financial system, even as a precautionary measure?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Organ Transplants

 

In Britain, just as in America, news reports have sapped confidence in the transplant business. In recent weeks, eyebrows were raised after it emerged that part of a liver obtained through the National Health Service was used for a private patient, a Kuwaiti boy, at King’s College Hospital in London. The surgeon involved was cleared of any wrongdoing after explaining that he had given most of the liver to an NHS patient, while reserving the left lobe for the boy, who was critically ill.

The need for body parts | The gap between supply and demand | The Economist

The Economist explains the increasing demand for organ transplants and the lack of supply (willing donors). Some ideas to solve this problem are gaining support such as paying donors.

I found the following history about organ transplants interesting:

The first successful transplant of a body part—a cornea—was done in Austria just over 100 years ago. It took another half-century before the first live kidney transplant, between identical twins in America. More “firsts” followed: the pancreas (in America, 1966), liver (in America, 1967), heart (South Africa, 1967), lung (Canada, 1983), hand (France, 1998), face (France, 2005) and penis (China, 2006).

Yup you got the last part right!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Change for President

For what it is worth, I am officially endorsing Obama for President of the USA. Why would any international citizen care or have an opinion of the US election? Two reasons. First, the whole world is on the receiving end of US foreign policy so it matters who's in the White House (even though US policy towards the Middle East is consistently biased towards the strategic relationship with Israel).

Second, what happens in the US election sends a message across the world. It is for this reason I favour Obama. The charismatic Obama stands for change -for the better it is hoped. The US and the world is in need of such change. In this part of the world we dream of change that is often beyond our reach, which makes the message from the US even more meaningful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Insult to be Arab or Muslim

 

Mr. Powell also told reporters on Sunday that he was troubled that a number of Americans believe that Mr. Obama is a Muslim, although he did not directly link that supposition to the McCain campaign. At a recent town-hall style meeting, Mr. McCain told an audience member who said she thought that Mr. Obama was an “Arab,” “no, ma’am, he’s a decent family man.”

“These are the kinds of images going out on Al Jazeera that are killing us around the world,” Mr. Powell said. “And we have got to say to the world it doesn’t make any difference who you are and what you are. If you’re an American you’re an American.”

Powell Endorses Obama - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

It is really sad that being an Arab or a Muslim came to be an insult. That is thanks to extremism and terrorism that tarnished the reputation of all Arabs and Muslims. It is not enough to just fight terrorism after it happens. Extremism is growing strong in our society and within the political system. It is time to stand up for our freedom and salvage our reputation before extremists turn the country into a Taliban state.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Go Red Sox!

 

The Red Sox stunned the Rays by rebounding from a seven-run deficit in the seventh to win, 8-7, in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Seemingly dead, the Red Sox unfurled a miraculous rally in the last three innings and now trail three games to two in the best-of-seven series. It is still a vibrant series, a series in which the Red Sox, who were nearly dead, have snatched the momentum.

Red Sox 8, Rays 7 - Down by 7-0, Red Sox Force a Game 6 - NYTimes.com

It's this time of the year. The Red Sox seems to always come from behind after giving its fans a scare. Go Red Sox!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Israeli Companies

With its perennial lack of water and an overabundance of sun, Israel has long been a global leader in water and solar technologies. An Israeli kibbutz company, Netafim, invented the first drip irrigation systems, while Luz Industries Israel developed the first commercial solar-thermal power plants. Now Shai Agassi, an entrepreneur who formerly was a top executive at SAP, the German software company, is leading the global charge to put electric cars on the road.

LexisNexis News - Latest News from over 4,000 sources, including newspapers, tv transcripts, wire services, magazines, journals.

Israel -or as some call it around here the Zionist Regime- is a place of many disadvantages. It lacks water, energy and surrounded by hostile countries. Instead of lamenting their luck they turned every single disadvantage into an opportunity to excel. They have become leaders in those fields. Regardless of ideology, Israel offers a good example, while our Arab countries squander their abundant resources.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Race for Tallest Building

 

Saudi Prince and billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal says he will build the world's tallest building, planned to be over a kilometer (3,281 feet) high. The tower will be built in the Saudi town of Jeddah and will be part of a larger project that will cost $26.7 billion, (100 billion Saudi riyals) said the Prince's firm, Kingdom Holding Company.

Saudi prince to build tallest building - CNN.com

It seems there is a race in the region to build the tallest building. First there is Burj Dubai which is work in progress. Then as announced in Dubai's Cityscape RE show there will be another Dubai tower to rival the Burj. Now Al-Waleed has entered the race.

This reminds me of a quote from somewhere that I could not retrieve. I thought it was Martin Luther King. Basically it is about how we took to the space and learned to fly and still can't seem to walk straight and treat each other fairly.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quotas for Women

Around 110 countries have rules helping women to get elected, joined in recent years by such feminist-friendly places as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. On September 5th Angola had its first election with a new quota in place that says 30% of candidates must be women. Yemen is discussing a similar measure.

Sexual equality in politics | Women rising | The Economist

Perhaps it is not a bad idea to have quota for women in parliament here in Kuwait. The downside of any quota system is that selection will not be entirely by merit. Some women will make it at the expense of more qualified men. But this has to be balanced with the bigger downside of lack of representation of women in parliament.

The lack of representation of women is a result of past discrimination and removal from the political process. Until women are on equal footing with men, a quota system to ensure their participation should be a welcome idea. At least we will get to see unbearded members of parliament!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

You Tube Islam

This is no joke. Al-Watan TV had a news clip on the subject and I could not believe it until I check it for myself. I must say good for whomever came up with it. Rather than making noise to block the other You Tube they came up with their own version. No points for creativity -I have a feeling some copy rights are infringed. Anyways I'm sticking to the other You Tube.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

All Is Not Well

The government came out insisting yesterday that all is well in the financial market. The market keeps plummeting. Till when the government is going to insist on this line and not intervene? Even if all is well as claimed, confidence is lost in the market.

Immediate action is required mainly on two fronts. First, the central bank needs to wake up and actively inject liquidity into the banking systems as well as loosening restrictions on lending. The second, while the Kuwait Investment Authority rushed in markets abroad to save some financial institutions, it should look at opportunities at home and save the financial market.

I am not usually a proponent of government intervention, but in this case the cost of not doing so would be far reaching. Time to stop living in denial before it is too late and the cost is much higher to fix things.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Don't Get Tech

The highlight my Eid holiday is introducing to my parents- hold your breath- DVD players. It all started when my father asked for a way to play CDs then I realized he meant DVDs. So I ended up getting him a portable DVD player that never left his sight like a kid with a new toy. Then my mom got jealous. So I gave her my old DVD player that I explained needs to be attached to the TV for viewing -just like VHS video I explained.

The whole episode was amusing to me as we take technology for granted and can't imagine people living without it. But apparently my parents are not the only ones who don't get tech. The government keeps attempting to censor the Internet -latest attempt with YouTube. Unless you are my parents, you will find a way around any censorship on the Internet. Just like my parents, it seems the government and their Islamist backers need to catch up with technology.