Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hillary, Obama and small money

I am not an expert on politics, but that shouldn't be a qualification for being a political junkie, I hope.  As I watch the news networks scramble to cover the nomination saga, and read more about it, I realized that the key difference between the two candidates is their sources of money.  The Obama campaign has relied on grass roots financing and given that the race for nomination is not over yet, this strategy might work for them.  The initial rounds have been anything but conclusive and I doubt if the Clinton campaign can continue to raise big money as the race drags on.  Already, there are reports that Hillary is loaning her own campaign money!  It is the small money that might get Obama across the finish line, finally.  Ironical, isn't it, given that Hillary has greater support among the middle and lower income groups than Obama!

No hope for banking

The times reports on a new allegation that one of the banking giants is facing. Wachovia has been alleged to continue to do business with telemarketing firms which have been involved in fraudulent scams.  These scammers had to pay hefty fees to the bank whenever a consumer found out that he/she was had been cheated and demanded the money back.  The bank saw this as a good business opportunity and continued to process these scam transactions.

This is just icing on the cake.  Let's count the follies --
1) predatory lending practices
2) colluding with real estate agents etc.
3) helping out scammers
4) jacking up stock prices
5) crashing the stock market
... and finally, 6) stupidity or maybe greed.....for creating the current financial mess ....

even after all of this, their top executives continue to make money by the millions, all in the name of creating shareholder wealth! Someone needs to step right-in and penalize all the scamsters who run such organizations

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

World's hottest pepper

I shouldn't be calling it a "pepper", as we refer to these amazing vegetables as "chillies" in India.  Following up on an article in the WSJ, I eventually found out that the title of the world's hottest chili pepper goes to an obscure chili - Bhut Jolokia that grows naturally in the Northeastern parts of India - the name literally translates to ghostly chili. 
I have to admit that I had always thought that the habanero was the hottest chili pepper.

It is also interesting that there is something called as the Chili Pepper institute at the New Mexico State University. There is also an official unit of measurement for "hotness" and it is called Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).  Based on the reports, the Bhut Jolokia rakes in 1,041,427 units and in comparison the next nearest competitor, Red Savina Habanero comes in at about 500k-1 Million.  For the not-so adventurous types, I bet you are happy with the 25000 units of the Jalapenos.  I can't wait to get my hands on one of these babies, and of course, bite into them! If I live to tell the story you can read about it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mayawati lives upto her name

If you can believe TOI reporting, then, here's a juicy one for you.  Apparently, the Chief Minister of UP raked in a cool sixty crores in rupees as her annual income.  That is roughly 15 million dollars last year alone!  The investigating authorities did not find anything wrong in she receiving tens of lakhs worth of property and cash in gifts from friends and well-wishers. I guess, the entire tax system and Mayawati in particular never cease to amaze and entire nation!

Well, I look at the positive side of things - at least she is paying Income Tax on the income.  In that sense, she probably has the moral superiority over the millions of our citizens who neither report the income or who do not pay tax.  Not to mention the millions of small businesses that always operate at a loss!