Mathew Martoma = “Triple Package” + Sociopathy

The extent of Mathew Martoma’s fraud at Harvard is almost farcical. The fact that someone like him (born Ajai Mathew Thomas) could succeed in high finance tells you something about high finance. But, it also tells you about the toxic brew of individuals with high intellectual competency but low moral compass. These are far more dangerous than garden variety sociopaths, because their success is contingent upon eating away at the fabric of civil society.

But another aspect hinted at in the story is the role that pressure driven Asian immigrant cultures play in incentivizing this sort of behavior.* To be frank I suspect many Asian immigrant parents might be able tolerate a little corner cutting if their child could make it to Harvard. Naturally when you have someone with sociopathic tendencies like Martoma that tends to be interpreted as carte blanche toward a success-at-any-price mode of operation.

Of course culture is not destiny. The man prosecuting Martoma is himself a 1.5 generation Indian American.

* This sort of problem also crops up in corporations where all rewards are based on outcomes. In which case there is a strong incentive to cheat the system.

The Act of Killing

A must see documentary.
I have not seen it. I only saw the trailer (I have a weak stomach for massacres) but I have heard about it in detail from a friend who saw it and I have read about the movie as well as the massacres themselves.
Humans. What a frigging species.

We did our share of killing in 1947 and then in Bengal in 1971, but the way these Indonesians have not just honored the killers (which we did too, in many cases) but openly boast about their work..that does not seem to be our way (yet).
Somehow I always have the feeling that South-East Asian societies (Burma to Indonesia) are one step ahead of mother India in the mass-killing business, but maybe I am just prejudiced. I have certainly not done the math…

Pakistan: The Narratives Fall Apart

I have to run, so this will have to  be fleshed out later, but a few quick points to start a discussion:

1. The government of Pakistan (GOP) has completely lost control of the narrative. They were always confused, but part of the confusion was by choice. Since Musharraf gave his famous Sulah Hudaybia speech, where he said we will cooperate with Western powers just like the nascent Islamic state in Medina signed a peace deal with the kafirs in Mecca as a temporary measure, there were always going to be things we had to hide or obfouscate. Then the more impatient jihadis started beheading armymen and brave levies soldiers, so they had to be fitted into the story somewhere. For that, the Hindu agent/Jewish conspiracy theme was activated and the Pakistani Taliban were described as agents of RAW and the CIA, fighting against our brave soldiers in order to undermine the world’s only Islamic nuclear power. This was never an easy sell outside of middle class Pakistan but it had a certain internal coherence. Now this whole convoluted scheme has fallen apart thanks to Mian Nawaz Sharif and Choudhry Nisar.

2. The Pakistani state recognized those very Taliban (hindu-jewish agents, CIA proxies) as negotiation partners and also conceded that they control a certain territory where they decide who comes and who negotiates. A team of negotiators who are generally sympathetic to the Taliban was appointed to talk to them. Mullahs of every stripe were activated (or activated themselves, after all, they have brains too) to prepare the ground for negotiations. Since no one in Pakistan can deny shariah law and the supremacy of Islam, this already puts the corrupt and double-dealing state apparatus at a disadvantage to the more shariah-compliant and Islamic Taliban. This blow was bad enough, but worse was to come.

3. The Taliban, displaying (as usual) more coherence and sense than the GOP, have put forward a list of people who can negotiate on their behalf. A list that includes Imran Khan and Maulana Samiul Haq. Not exactly people who can be easily dismissed as Hindu-Jewish agents. Then they have supposedly appointed a ten man committee to supervise these negotiators.THAT committee includes such luminaries as Asmatullah Muavia (the guy who ADMITTED to ordering the killing of Chinese and East European climbers on Nanga Parbat and admitted to a vicious church bombing as well) and Khalid Khurasani (whose video can be seen below). They will now issue lists of demands, some minor (and therefore impossible to resist…after all, can peace be sacrificed for such minor things?) , some major (like prisoner release) and some irresistible in principle (like the imposition of shariah). When negotiations fall apart (as they must), who will be blamed? Is there ANY chance that Sami ul Haq or Imran Khan will blame the Taliban for this failure? Of course, the TTP can also deny the committee or any other news as and when it suits them. They control the narrative, not Choudhry Nisar.

4. Where will this leave the whole Indian-agent theory on which any real operation against the TTP was to be based within the army?

The state will not surrender to these people. Yet. But one more step back has been taken.
What next?

btw, Fazlullah’s last set of demands for peace is in the second video below.

Cafe Le Whore and other stories

A new book by Pakistani-American author Moazzam Sheikh.
I think its brilliant and original. Moazzam is not interested in writing “Pakistani” fiction or “Western” fiction. Just stories, about people, in strange places, sometimes doing strange things, but always human, all too human…
Funny too. Very funny at places.
All in all, a fresh, different and disturbing new Pakistani-American voice. Migration, migrants, Lahore, Samnabad and the People’s Republic of San Francisco play a role in most of the stories, as they do in the life of the author. But the themes are universal. Check it out.
 Full Disclosure: I am related to the author, who is also a friend.

Can inter-sect marriages save Pakistani society?

“I am Muslim and nothing else,” says 23-year-old Sana*. Growing up in a multi-sect home it wasn’t until Sana was a teenager that she felt the distinct divide society wanted to categorise her in. An outgoing and ambitious young professional Sana, with a Shia father and Sunni mother, continues to resist societal pressure to declare allegiance to either religious sect.
Her live and let live policy along with the unwillingness to “choose sides” is something she staunchly stands by and contrary to popular belief nothing about Sana indicates she is not a well-adjusted individual. Living in a loving home where understanding and tolerance supersede prejudice and narrow-mindedness she is happy to have the opportunity to be exposed to both sects.
Aurangzeb Khan, 22, has also been raised in a multi-sect home. Since he turned 12, Aurangzeb showed an inclination towards his mother’s sect, who is a Shia. He admits he was initially uneasy about the distinction between how he and his father offered their prayers but says,

 

Hands by my sides or folded, all I know is that I am praying before the same God.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1083796/shia-sunni-marriages-till-faith-do-us-part
My paternal grandfather was of a Sunni background (before he converted) and my grandmother’s family was of Shi’ite Sayyid lineage (before they converted). One astonishing thing about the Baha’i community is the nature of the constant mixing; among the Persian Baha’i Jewish, Zoroastrian and Muslim backgrounds intermingle in the same individual. It’s perhaps the best way for the world to heal when we’re all (more closely) related together.