Friday, February 27, 2009


From watching CNN, reading Newsweek, Le Monde, Le Temps and other papers, I get the impression that America, Israel and Europeans view Iran as a terrorist state, which “owns” Syria, part of Lebanon through Hezbollah, and somehow helps Hamas in Palestine. Given the opportunity President Amadinijad would gladly make Israel disappear, therefore we must prevent Iran to acquire the A bomb.

OK. I don’t have any problem with this. Not that it should change the way we should deal with the Persians, but I would like to propose slightly different optics.

The same way Christians have Protestants and Catholics, Moslems have Shiites and Sunnis. Everybody is proselytizing the same way. The dominating Protestant Christian movements are in the US and it is from there than missionaries of all denominations are sent: Lutherans, Baptist, Mormons, etc..
The base for the Catholics is Rome and even though priests are sent from Spain, France or anywhere I believe the central “marketing” effort is there.
For Moslems the Sunni movement has clearly a directing base in Saudi Arabia.
The Mosque in Geneva and those in Paris for instance get funding from there. Management is sent and directed from Riyad as well.

For the Shiites it is Iran

How much of a conflict is there between Shiites and Sunnis is not something discussed on CNN. We know that some Shiites are persecuted in Pakistan the same way we know that Sunnis in Iraq are not getting many “signs of affection” from Iraqi Shiites. It has been written in Le Temps newspaper in Geneva that Saudi Arabia jointly with the US pushed for the invasion of Lebanon to kick Hezbollah’s ass and in consequence diminish Iran’s influence.
I imagine that since Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, Iran has been expansion minded. Never mind the fact that Iraqi Shiites don’t like Iranians. Iran would have conquered Iraq if Saddam had not stopped it. Iraq started the war but some say that some aggressions from Iran had started it. Even though he was a bad ass he brought a certain balance into the region. Now Iraq is waiting patiently for the US to leave. We’ll see how they will move next.
To expend as it wants Iran need a power of dissuasion. A Sunni country already has an atomic weapon. That’s Pakistan. The Islamists are already infiltrated in parts of the government and it is not totally impossible that one day they will take power. (Frightening thought, much more than Iran having the bomb).
The religious leaders of Iran are probably much smarter than “Amadibaby”, they think for the long term and they think expansion.
Amadinijad has apparently the same IQ or even lower than George W. He picked up where Saddam left:” I am the biggest kid on the block, I say and do anything that I want”. He has the blessing of his bosses when he says he wants to destroy Israel but I think it’s a fig leave. The bomb they want is not for Israel. Not primarily anyway. They don’t want the Sunnis to mess with them. Saudi Arabia is not going to let Iran massacre its Sunni brothers. If Iran had an atomic weapon the “rapport de force” would be different.
In Geneva, when Francois Heisbourg ( check him out on Google) presented his new book about Iran, I asked him what he thought of my idea. He did not say anything really. He did not criticize it but did not endorse it either. Some of the Iranians who were in the audience came to me and shook my hand like if I had nailed something. Who knows?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Question everything

I saw on French TV (la 2) that a woman scheduled to have an operation on one breast had actually both breasts removed. Poor lady. After an initial reaction of anger, the husband did not have hate in his words. Essentially he was saying “shit happens”. An American would have immediately lawyered up.
Any way, this got me to think about “how things happen” and about the qualification of the staff, and the surgeon, and the administrative staff, etc.. Then I went into a more general train of thought that went from doctoring to lawyering, engineering, soldiering, and human activities in general. The surgeon who screwed up maybe was excellent at his job. All the administrative and preparatory work was left to the “little people”. Even during the operation maybe all he did was a couple of gestures with his scalpel, everything else being left to assistants or nurses. He is responsible however for the whole process.
If the husband had questioned before hand how his wife was processed through the whole thing, he probably would have prevented the accident. It takes, however a strong personality to do that.

Dealing with engineers or lawyers or whoever is considered a “professional” , is a similar thing. The core knowledge of the folks to whom we pay 300 or 500$ an hour amounts is maybe 20% of their whole activity. If that much in some cases. That 20% we cannot question because we don’t have the training or knowledge. Everything else belongs to the plain world of common sense, sense of proportions, organization and this 80% we can and should question.
Professionals however do not in general accept the common of mortals to question this 80%. Don’t walk on my trap line..
There are so many examples. Read the paperwork that comes with your medicine prescriptions and try discussing it with your MD. Good chances she is going to pout or frown. My kid went into depression for a year after having been prescribed Rohaccutane for acne. We had not read the paperwork then. We always do now.
I have another good one that goes back to the 70s in Phoenix. I was an internal auditor at a “big semi conductor” factory. They were making a certain part for some IBM type client. It was to be gold plated at 40 microns. If they set up the electrolysis bath at 40 microns, a certain quantity of parts did not get any gold into the corners. So they set up the bath at 50 microns that way they were sure that all parts came up at specs. An auditor showed that if one kept the settings at 40 microns and caught the defective parts at a quality analysis station and reprocessed them, the company could save 20Millions $ per year even after the cost of this new QA station.
Of course the initial reaction from the engineers was anger, rage and hate. “Fucking bean counters trying to tell us how to do our jobs. We are engineers and you are not, therefore shut up. Discussion closed”. The auditors finally won the argument and their suggestion was adopted.
That’s when I discovered that we can always question things. There is a cost to that. Peoples hate to be questioned and one becomes easily known as a pain in the ass. When there is a lot at stake it should be done though.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wow.. First blog. Almost like getting a driver’s license or having sex for the first time. Almost scary. There are tens of millions of eyes out there. They are not reading. But they could. Some are ten times smarter than me and some are dumber than a broom. One could be read by Americans or Brits or Japanese or Germans and for that matter a forest ranger in a strange planet in the Alpha Centauri star system. How do you know they don’t have forests over there?

What is important is who you write for. Obviously if one writes, it is to be read. But read by what kind of folks? Everybody? Surely not. Generally you cannot discuss the chord changes of “You must believe in Springs” with people who are into Country music or even Rock and Roll. The same way if you are a French socialist you will have a hard time understanding what an American Republican or a libertarian is talking about.

That’s the beauty of this thing: there are people in cyberspace that are crazy in the same manner as you. Even if there are only a couple it is worth the reach out.

I have been concerned about politics in the last few years so I’ll talk about that. This includes the economy and social programs. No, I don’t have any qualification to do so, but being given the way PHDs have screwed it up in the last 30 years, I think we have a right to talk about the basics and common sense. International politics are also quite interesting. There again, the PHDs have not helped.
I am white and my wife being from Brazil is a mixture of black, indian and white. In the US she would be black. She says she is not. I’ll talk about that subject.

Photos, friends, food, travels, music are all interesting subjects to talk about.