Sunday, August 28

Gold Bugs...

I am suddenly reminted about bugs and how they live it out.  They live on the carcass, and they live on the dying.  Bugs even attack the healthy and kill them to complete the life cycle that is so evident in nature.  Environmentalist says that bugs are signs of a healthy environment and that they should only be controlled and contained, not eliminated!

Then, someone equated ‘gold lovers’ to ‘gold bugs’. Yesterday I read a very interesting article by Bill Bonner (‘No place for a Gold Bug’) which was thought provoking.  

Have you seen this bug? 

When the price of gold fell last week, Bill Bonner had this to says,

“Because this is no place for a gold bug. Not really. We are fastened to a whole herd of dying animals — the credit expansion…the housing decline…Keynesian economic theory…the dollar-based monetary system…the social welfare political model…the bankrupt empire…the declining marginal utility of military force, debt and oil…and all those dying generations themselves. And we could probably think of more! All of them, in their dotage, will drag down prices…including, perhaps, even the price of gold. We will have to wait for these wretched things to die. Then, when they are out of their misery and out of the way…or brushed aside by a desperate Fed…the next stage of gold’s bull market can begin.”
This interesting and powerful allegory has to add one more item that today’s gold bugs feed : the Quantitate Easing’ or the QEs,  as they are famous now!

The cruel mechanism of the universe is that one failing force will strengthen another, one dying energy will kindle another, when someone make a profit, someone else make a loss.  This is a mystery of the universe... and we will never be able to fathom it. Yet, when this law breaks down and when the whole universe swings all together one-way, the normal systems collapses, markets crash, telephone lines jammed, traffic signals frozen, computer servers crash, electrical circuits trip and the world ends for a moment. Seldom have they happened. Because, there are always bugs that eat on the dead and the dying! 


Friday, August 26

God be God

... out of Garden 

I do not have unlimited freedom. Obedience to God's will sets limits... the first rung of the ladder to union with God and harmony in life is to let God be God.  We make so many things in life god - this job, that person, this thing, that title - that eventually we forget who God really is. We forget what really lasts in life.  We forget that there are responsibilities that come with creaturehood: to tend the garden and to care for it, to take care of the creatures and to be helpmates to one another. We even forget the presence of God and so act as if God were not present:  we belittle one another and make fun of the poor and reject the alien.  We make ourselves god and forget the will of God in others for us ...  Joan Chittister (a Benedictine nun, author and speaker)


Dog story

I always thought that only men kept those distinguishing looks of a sophisticated beard. 
Nevertheless, look at him; he too keeps a sophisticated beard : 
his bronze beard stands apart from his shaggy coat. 
Calling him Stephan, you just cannot befriend him or win his heart. 
“Keep off!” he said flashing his white little teeth in vigorous barks. 
Though mixed, I think he has lots of spaniel blood in him that keeps him aggressive. 


Wednesday, August 24

… to keep their skirts ON!

Cyclists of all generations have had their own dress codes. Way back in 1890s too there were strict dress codes:  tight Knickerbocker suits and pillbox caps were the order of men. Women wore classic skirts and designer caps. The correct costume for a bicycling lady was a hot issue.  In 1883, the English Cyclists’ Touring Club recommended the following dress code for a cycling woman:  a woolen garment worn next to the skin, dark gray woolen stockings, lose knickers fastened under the knee underneath a plain skirt, a fitted bodice under the jacket and a hat.

Did you wonder how a woman could navigate the crossbar framed cycles during those early years of commercial cycles? Well, the drop-frame bicycles came to their rescue when they were invented in the US by late 1890s. Women no longer struggled with their flowing skirts over the crossbars!  Should a woman cyclist choose to keep her skirt on, then drop-frame was a tryst with freedom.  Soon, the accepted convention was that a woman would only buy the drop-fame “ladies” cycles. Even the Indian women, with their sarees would have found it almost impossible to mount, but on their drop-frames.   

As a cycle lover, I wonder how much the world of cycling has changed since olden days. Like any other art, the art of cycling too has lost some of its color and romance.  Even then, the passion remains… to see the young lasses with bright color skits, flowing away on their cycles.

Tuesday, August 23

All-terrains that changed the world of cycling...

Empty countryside and the lure of solitude were two important factors for the arrival of cycles in Europe.  One of the good things about the early cycles was that they were manufactured to be used on any kind of roads. Smooth roads were a rarity in the countryside. Hence, all-terrain-cycles were a big hit. The Humber Cycles and Whitworth Cycles had the best technology of the times and they excelled in the manufacture of all-terrain-cycles.

Young groups of cyclists would leave the city-smog to tour the countryside.  In 1880s, England and France had many wayside inns that had fallen into relative disuse with the advent of railways. The cyclists found out these inns and began making regular cycling events to them.  A new era of leisure cycling was born.  What we call today as a cycle trail, had its origin in English countryside.  Of course, the countryside invasions by groups of cyclists were not without pitfalls. The orthodox families in those country sides restricted their youth from taking these pleasure trips and even meeting the town dwelling couples who have overrun into their peace and harmony.  

All-terrain-cycles have travelled a long way since 1890s. Today, they are one the most popular class of cycles sold. Loaded with sophistication, all-terrains have it all different from the rest of the pack. 


Monday, August 22

Pedaling the sweetheart!

With the arrival of commercial safety bicycles in the 1880s, the aristocratic society of the Continent responded great.  One group that really made daily news was the lovers. Young men and women deep in love wanted a space for flirtation. Since cycling was accepted as a social form of recreation, it was the easiest thing to ride away with boyfriend from the watchful eye of the parent or chaperon. To fight back, in 1896, the Chaperon Cyclists Association was formed in London. The idea was that girls and boys would take cycles on rental from the Association and that the parents can track their moments. No… it did not work! In fact, not only the aristocrats but also the ordinary lasses were freer to go on their own cycles. They peddled their love far away from the watchful eyes of the society just to be in the arms of each other for a while! It might have been great for the humble cycle to have crept into the clandestine love affairs of the rich and the poor. Cycle was like today's mobile phones or internet chatting-rooms where lovers whisper sweet nothings. 

Poor me! When I look back into my own life, I have missed it all! When I grew up, girls in my class would never touch a bicycle, and we never had the soap-box like cell phones to creep into our lovers' hearts. I used to pump and peddle a 25 kg. Hero and rush into the class panting for breath. No girl was impressed by it all! I think, today's boys are lucky. They have a wider arsenal of modern 100cc smoking rats to plug their dreams. 

Romance on the bicycle has different facets : the feeling of oneness in the world of the lover with cool breeze kissing all over ... the cadence of the pedaling that give a unique rhyme and a rhythm to that joy of oneness... and the occasional patting of the lover to ensure that balance is kept. What more, they can together ring cycle-bells telling the whole world to move off their paths of glory!  

Hence, back in 1880s,  it was fascinating for a man and a woman to flirt on their cycles. Today, as men and women do it in their car and as they do it underwater, they are far related to their brothers and sisters who did it on their cycles.


Sunday, August 21

When cycling was the fashionable craze ...

  In this  poster of 1880s, we see  an aristocrat  walking towards his cycle for mounting it for a ride. A lackey is seen holding it for him.  Humber was a British cycle maker ( from 1880s to  1932) . 

In 1880s, the bicycle was as pampered as the horse it partly displaced. In fact, cycle was in many ways, treated like a horse those days. One fad was to paint it in the family colors and protect it with a similarly painted cover a night. Then it was brought into the grand entrance lobby. A lackey would bring it round to the front door to be mounted by the master. There was excessive attention to dress too, one had to look one’s best as he mounted the bicycle and cycled it around. Only the aristocrats could do it.
 H. G. Wells wrote, “The world is divided into two class: those who ride bicycles and those who don’t” 

Monday, August 8

The Emperor has no clothes !

It is sad but interesting to observe how the world is taking the  US  rating downgrade by S&P. I might never know where the gold is heading. One thing for sure is happening : world's relationship with gold is witnessing a new dimension.... a dimension never thought of by most investors.  
Today's  surge in gold is a knee-jerk reaction to the downgrade and could prompt huge profit taking in the near future. But as long as the US congress fails to fix their figures, concerns of slowing economic activity in the US will continue to spark fear in the investment world . Diversification from US assets is surely going to happen.   And when that happen, gold will shine further as the ultimate safe haven. 
Beware, the Emperor has no clothes ! 

Monday, August 1

….something to say to her.

Am Lone again...
I thought I had something to say to her when our
       eyes met in the road.
       But she passed away, and it rocks day and night
       like an idle boat on every wave of the hours-
       the thing that I had to say to her.

... lone again...

It seems to sail in the autumn clouds in an endless
       and to bloom into evening flowers
       seeking its lost words in the sunset.

... and lone again. 

It twinkles like fireflies in my heat to find its own
       in the dust of despair-
       the thing that I had to say to her. 

                                                                 -poems from Tagore