Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Atlanta is out of gas

Long lines yesterday morning at the pumps in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area and elsewhere in North Georgia were followed by no gas available at all by evening.

Big question: Is Governor Sonny Perdue's "anti-price-gouging statute" at fault for keeping pump prices artificially low and making a temporary hurricane-induced shortage into something critical? Gas station owners face stiff fines for raising prices too high and "taking advantage" of consumers in a crisis--and Governor Purdue is running radio ads encouraging motorists to report instances of "price gouging" at the pumps. The gas station owners have little choice.

Perdue is a businessman and knows better, but has been making policy by pandering to voters' ignorant outrage--he is perhaps more responsible than anybody in state government for not pointing out the fallacy of price-fixing to people waiting in long lines for gas who then still feel encouraged to rail about the "unfair" price artificially fixed at around $4 a gallon.

Not all consumers are falling for it, and many are incensed at being blamed for acting in their own rational self-interest in a situation they see quite clearly as aggravated by Purdue's stupid policies. ("Fear of shortages also makes shortages worse and queuing longer by increasing hoarding. The worse that shortages are expected to be because of price controls, the more hoarding the expectation of shortages will induce--and so the shortages will be worse.")

This current extended and regional gas shortage is a classic illustration of how price-fixing hurts the consumer and disrupts supply. Consumers would be better off if gas were available at a price that reflected the temporary scarcity, so that a) consumers could self-ration according to the info they gain from accurate prices reflecting temporary shortages; b) there would be gas available for those who truly need it; and c) replacement supplies of gas would have an economic incentive to flow into the area quickly.

Up-to-the-minute consumer watchdog websites like Gasbuddy.com provide great information and transparency on the retail gas market prices to ensure that consumers do not get "gouged" and to ensure that retailers remain competitive. Consumers empowered with such self-generated information can operate much more efficiently than government can ever manage. But note: consumers have no incentive to submit to Gasbuddy.com info on where gas can be had at artificially low prices during a gas shortage. Their incentive is to shut up and run over to get in line, and maybe tell a few friends about the temporary availability before the pumps go dry again.


Second question: in the current global financial credit crunch our honorable Congresspeople are now attempting to grapple with, will these gas stations sitting idle go out of business if they are unable to obtain temporary loans to tide them over until the gas supplies return to normal? If there is no credit available for business loans in the current financial crisis, will anyone be willing to purchase the gas stations and start them up again if they do go out of business? What will this mean for the consumers?

What about the other businesses dependent on a smooth supply of gas?

Are we seeing the next Great Depression take hold already in Atlanta? Are the dominoes beginning to fall? Are they being kicked over by economically stupid government policies at all levels?


Note: It's also bad in Nashville (but at least some are still able to laugh) (via Instapundit).

UPDATE: Map of gas prices nationwide (at gasbuddy.com). Although the map reflects the gas shortage problem caused by hurricane-impeded flow through the Colonial and Plantation pipelines throughout the southeast, it is pretty clear that it looks like Georgia and North Carolina have some kind of statewide government problem going on right now.

UPDATE: In another "coming calamity" note, I've been spotting many more "For Rent" signs along the roads these last two weeks, where I have rarely seen any before. Indicating the bursting of the housing bubble and homeowners in distress, I assume. Meanwhile, as always, the renters "are on the bottom of the food chain."


UPDATE: Neal Boortz on "How to Solve the Gas Panic" -- "The truth is there is nothing inherently wrong with the free market responding to these shortages with the best device known to man for allocating scarce resources. Prices." From a look at the comments section, far too many people are still too ignorant about basic concepts of economics. This just ends up increasing everybody's pain.



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Friday, September 26, 2008

Our trip to Alaska, part 3

Continuing with a few pix from our vacation in July.

Part 2 is here and Part 1 is here.


DAY 11:

On the McCarthy Road--
The fishcamp and fishwheels on
the Copper River near Chitina, Alaska
.
This is how the natives have caught fish for generations.


A fishwheel, powered by the running river,
scoops unsuspecting salmon from the opaque,
glacial-silt-laden water



The Kuskulana River Bridge, Mile 16
(a former railroad trestle)
along
the 60-mile gravel road to McCarthy

in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Some people have been known
to bungee-jump off this bridge
.




Looking down at the ghost mining town
of Kennecott, Alaska
and the glaciers
and mountains behind it
. We were lucky
enough to spend two nights here, on
Silkstocking Row.




The power plant (with smokestacks) and
the old copper
concentrating mill in Kennecott
(tallest wooden structure on the continent).
The Kennecott mill went out of business in 1938
and Kennecott instantly became a ghost town.



DAY 12:





Going off to hike atop the Root Glacier
near Kennecott, Alaska


Atop the Root Glacier


Stopping for a snack and a view


Beware of the crevasse moulin!


To be continued.

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Real-life reading list for graduating teens

I've started a running list of books I'd like to recommend to my kids to read by the time they graduate from high school, in preparation for leaving home and going away to college. They're not dense academic tomes (they get enough of those at school)--these titles are books I think contain some real wisdom for all ages that's distinctly advantageous to have under your belt, especially before you venture off into the world. Most are books I doubt high school teachers would ever recommend. Of course, if you don’t get through these books before college, it’s never too late—but the sooner the better:


Campus life prep:

A Student’s Guide to the Core Curriculum by Mark C. Henrie/Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
A guide on what courses to choose to ensure a first-class education. See also the other ISI subject study guides for entering college students.

When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith
Separating assertion from aggression and offering some good techniques for knowing how to stand up for yourself in a firm, civil way

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Classic. Working at treating people as you would really like to be treated pays off

The Closing of the American Mind by Allen Bloom
An essential guide to what you really want to get out of college, and whether or not you can expect to find it there

Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus by Dinesh D’Souza
Ideas and tips on how to recognize and make your way through the campus diversity minefield

Unprotected by Miriam Grossman
What your campus health clinic won’t tell you

The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate by Hariett Lerner
What to do when your roommate, advisor, mentor, or sweetheart turns out to be a jerk

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
What is the real meaning of life? Not a book of philosophy per se, but a book of wisdom

Happiness is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual by Dennis Prager
Something to think about as you go through life acquiring your personality, your resume, your character, and your attitude

The Bible; Psalms; Proverbs
Timeless and encapsulated wisdom and support, there when you need it most

The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson
The story and teachings of Jesus in powerful, modern speech. Helps keep campus life in perspective

America: The Last Best Hope (Volumes I & II) by William J. Bennett
Riveting and well-written: the true story of American exceptionalism you may not hear at school

Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties by Paul Johnson
Details and stories you may graduate without ever hearing

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton and Rose Friedman
Why capitalism and freedom make for the best society

The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek
How compassion and good intentions result in terrible outcomes

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay
An enlightening survival manual about human nature; first published in 1841, this is a classic handed down in our family for generations

We the Living and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
She escaped from a collectivist society to found Objectivist philosophy and become the 20th-century’s most ardent pro-capitalism and pro-freedom novelist--and as such, is rarely mentioned by teachers--but Ayn Rand is an enduring underground sensation and best-selling thinker. Best comprehensive descriptions of capitalism and collectivism at work in modern society I've ever read. Will help you understand politics and p.r., too.

Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers; From Bauhaus to Our House; and The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe
My favorite New Journalist writes the wickedly funny grammar on puncturing politically correct "elites"



Have any additions? Please add them in the comments.


UPDATE: Here's a nice addition: 88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College (via Newmark's Door). Life skills--in college, you get to practice them. (Hat tip to my Dreamboat)


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Congressional Republican Plan won't rescue the economy

My anonymous economic advisor says the Congressional Republican plan to 'protect taxpayers' is unworkable and unhelpful. Includes a lot of posturing about private investment (that isn't there--the market's not paying off, so who wants to invest?), requiring valuation of mortgage-backed securities that even the market can't value (duh!), and "reforming" regulation and outlawing "Wall Street cronyism." Sure, let's work on that for the next ten years, right after we outlaw premarital sex.

Ace takes it apart pretty succinctly (I love that blog, even if it does have a foul mouth)--

The Paulson plan, despite its obvious drawbacks, is an unambiguous shock to the system that immediately restores confidence in the markets and almost immediately starts trading illiquid assets for cash that can then be lent.

Everyone knows immediately the problem is solved.

This plan? What is it, exactly? For one thing, it's a phonied-up claim of a "private solution" which is actually just a big government intervention. Explain to me how the government creating a "privately funded mechanism" to ensure mortgages and MBSs. What? The government's creating it, right? To ensure mortgages and MBSs? Who knows how long that will take and whether it will work, but this government intervention can be falsely labeled as a "free market approach" to be contrasted with the direct asset purchase, which, of course, is "socialism."


It is evident from these principles that the House Republicans (including McCain, if he is behind or a part of this effort, along with a lot of angry, pro-capitalist or conservative voters) don't understand what's going on at all. Neither do Newt Gingrich, Michelle Malkin, or other sincere, smart conservatives who usually get most things right (they are people I admire and usually agree with).

Part of that blame lies with the extreme technicality of the crisis, and lots of blame lies with our regulators, and with the Treasury and the Fed, who did not get Congress, let alone the nation, up to speed on this before going to Capitol Hill asking for an immediate bailout of epic proportions. Yes, more attention should have been paid, and contingency plans for the unthinkable (which is now here) should have been in place. There is a lot of blame to go around, blame far beyond partisanship politics, but time is of the essence right now, and it is not evident, in the stock market alone, how dire the situation is.

The Congressional Republicans touting this plan are as much in the dark and ultimately irresponsible as are the Democrats trying to add on "bailouts" for homeowners and auto manufacturers, as Michelle Malkin so eloquently decries.

Paulson, Bernanke, and Bush all know what is hanging in the balance. We are facing a worldwide economic Pearl Harbor. That means there are no good solutions going forward, only bad ones and worse ones. Most ordinary people won't get it until they can't get money out of their ATMs any more, or when their credit card limits dry up, or when gas is not being delivered to their local gas stations, and businesses are failing like flies and laying off thousands of people in their local neighborhoods. Then, looking backwards, it will seem to have been a small price to pay, $700 billion (most of which would have been gotten back eventually), to keep millions of innocent people from being undeservedly punished by dire consequences they had nothing to do with bringing about.

We expect better prescience and leadership from Congress. But maybe that's asking too much.


UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt gets it in his "Memo to House Republicans"--

You are at a fork in the road, and the public can be trusted to understand exactly how this crises evolved and why Paulson 2.0 was the best of the options available to you and why urgent action is needed to both use tax cuts and energy exploration to recharge the prosperity of the past twenty years.

But you cannot stand by and watch people's business and savings hemorrhage and expect them to reward you for your purity of purpose and incompetence of execution.

The governmental intervention and the aspects of nationalizing Wall Street as a precedent in this case trouble me very much. As I said, there is nothing to be glad about with the Paulson plan, it is just that without something much like it being done quickly, worse things will begin cascading. There is plenty of time later for much-needed regulatory reforms and restructurings. I do not argue against those at all. But if we muff this immediate need to get the markets functioning again and a second Great Depression results, don't you think there will also result a second FDR and a second New Deal as well? House Republicans should factor this scenario into their feelings of outrage and protest.


UPDATE: What would Milton Friedman do? That's what I want to know, but unfortunately Uncle Milty is no longer with us, and we have to rely on other economists.


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Crystal Ball?

My anonymous economic advisor predicts that President Bush, in his just-announced, previously unscheduled, upcoming speech at 9:35 this morning, will announce he is invoking emergency Presidential powers to enact the Paulson bailout plan, sans added Democrat special interest padding. This will both relieve the financial crisis before the weekend, and unite Democrats and Republicans--to impeach President Bush. Then both Obama and McCain can meet in Mississippi tonight and rail against the President. My advisor predicts Bush will be impeached, but the Senate won't allow a conviction to go through.

I said, Stop it, you're giving me the creeps.

But then, I've been having the creeps for about a week now, watching all this slow-motion trainwreck play out. It's not about "bailing out Wall Street" and "greedy incompetents"--it's about staving off an imminent Great Depression. Paulson, Bernanke, Bush all understand that.

Leadership? Any? Much?

I'll be tuning in to see what President Bush says.

UPDATE: Well, the drama was all unstated. Bush merely made the briefest of remarks, saying there will be a plan passed. This merely translates to: "Good morning, financial markets, banks, investors, pension fund holders, small and large businesses, etc. around the globe--HOLD ON!"



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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The looming global economic crisis

Troubling is a mild word for it. Economists have known since August of last year that something bad was coming down in the financial markets due to mortgage-backed securities that couldn't be properly valued since the housing bubble started to burst. Over the last few weeks we've seen wealth evaporate on Wall Street and thousands of hardworking, innocent people thrown out of work, their retirement accounts vanished (not all of them are incompetent CEOs with untouchable Golden Parachutes).

We've seen Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, long acknowledged as an accident waiting to happen--finally blow it. They and those who enabled them over the years were huge contributors to the mortgage market mess.

Then we've seen Paulson and Bernanke go to Capitol Hill and scare the bejeebus out of some congressional leaders.

Now we see Congress playing political games, and people riled up and sucked into it. We see wealth envy and partisanship, opportunism, and lots and lots of ignorance of the financial details covered with inflammatory bombast.

Granted, there are troubling provisions and implications in the financial bailout plan. Troubling as in "keep you awake at night" and "speed is of the essence" and "no foreseeable bottom line in sight." Troubling as in "propping up foreign banks as well" and "this plan is not subject to courts or public review."

Some of the most respected freemarketeers, conservatives and Republican leaders, like Newt Gringrich, want nothing to do with any "bailout" of the financial system. Others argue it is an extraordinary and necessary step to avoid unimaginable suffering. They argue that if Wall Street goes, it takes Main Street with it.

And no one knows if Bernanke and Paulson's cash infusion measures would turn the trick or even stave off the inevitable. And as the days pass, fewer and fewer, both on Wall Street and Main Street, believe our political leaders in Washington (especially this close to an election) can understand, discern, or collaboratively manage to do what's best to help our country in this case. Perhaps nobody can.

I agree with this blogpost at Powerline:

Unfortunately, I doubt that we can expect from this Congress the kind of restraint called for .... And I doubt that the president, whose original proposal was not terribly restrained, will serve as much of a brake.
The market has already figured that one out and we will see the results reflected there daily. I am afraid more of us on Main Street may be feeling the effects more harshly rather soon.

UPDATE: And speaking of political blowhards and Chris Dodd...

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama v. Palin: by their fruits and their friends ye shall know them

I certainly enjoy reading my favorite blogs, as they cover the swirl of current events more closely than I would ever want to, and they are usually written by people much smarter (or at least much funnier) than I ever will be. Before I know it, I've spent way too much time each day surfing the internet enjoying other folks' smart takes on important and not-so-important stuff. Then I have a numb mouse-arm or a sore back and I have to go away, not least since I still have the laundry and yardwork to do.

For those of my friends and readers who are not into blogs, here are just a few posts I've enjoyed lately:

Power Line - This blog's the home of some of the smartest guys writing today from the conservative viewpoint. They are, with integrity and intelligence, on top of the latest political backstories and commentary before you'll hear them (if ever) on the TV news. Today, for example, they point to Stanley Kurtz's examination of the true extent of the ties between Obama's Chicago community organizer days and radial William Ayers -- doing the work the American mainstream media won't do:

The CAC's agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers's educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland's ghetto.

In works like "City Kids, City Teachers" and "Teaching the Personal and the Political," Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? "I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk's, "Sixties Radicals," at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.

CAC translated Mr. Ayers's radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with "external partners," which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).

Mr. Obama once conducted "leadership training" seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama's early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC's in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement....

Read that whole thing. Wonder why we don't see these kind of hard-hitting, factual investigative summaries in the New York Times and on ABC World News Tonight? You could spend an hour reading Powerline posts backwards in time and get a real education.

Michelle Malkin often breaks ground with original below-the-radar stories too. Here she sums up a recent canny forensic internet investigation by Ace of Spades and The Jawa Report into how a smear campaign against Sarah Palin was developed and exposed. (Content warming: Ace of Spades HQ blog is not suitable reading for children.) Spend a while reading this foray into the dark side of politics and learn the new vocabulary and people of the current Presidential campaign: David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief media strategist and the Master of Astroturfing (faux grassroots efforts), sockpuppets (as in, "legions of CCC's (Concerned Christian Conservatives) have suddenly sprung up all over the internet to attack Palin and repeat Obama talking points"), etc. It is a strange new world of digitized politics operating at the speed of light with some pretty rotten people in it (as well as some pretty decent ones to counter them). You can see Obama Astroturfing everywhere.

Then there is the story of the hacker who hijacked Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account. Also see Michelle Malkin's post. As Ace summed up:

Obama is still a dedicated disciple of Saul Alinksy. He still admits he learned much from Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, the Bible of community organizing.

One of Alinsky's key precepts i[s] to agitate, agitate, agitate, and stoke so much anger in the community to be "organized" that the agitator does not need to be a "leader" -- that members of the community will step forward to be "leaders" themselves, and take whatever action is necessary. If the "community organizer" radical has actually assumed a position of leadership, he's failed.

Success is defined as getting "the community" to do all the dirty work the agitator wishes to be done.


I have been stunned by the media response to Sarah Palin's emergence as McCain's pick for VP. I watched and liked her acceptance speech--she seemed like a nice woman and an effective governor, about whom I wanted to learn more--and then I have since been knocked slack-jawed at the negative, non-serious responses and over-the-top mean lunacy that reached tidal wave proportions trying to knock her (and her family) down (and still the abuse continues, with email hackers, etc.). If all this pro-Obama hot air, spewing of talking points without answering real questions, and guerilla warfare is meant to change people's minds--is meant to make me rethink, question, or doubt my own eyes and ears and my own reactions to Sarah Palin--it's not working. It's merely unserious and beyond sleazy. All that's working is I've got a new idea of how low some "people" will go in politics. The people working on behalf of Barack Obama.

I haven't seen these kind of bald and stupid antics since I lived in Chicago. And it's funny, but I don't think that's a coincidence.

It energizes me all the more to work against Obama becoming our nation's President. And I don't care how many ill-informed or self-interested Europeans love him. (In fact, I'm pretty sure that meme is all just media hype too.)



Further: Victor Davis Hanson: "Palin and Obama--What Really is Wisdom?"

"Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media" (via American Digest)


UPDATE: "Dissecting the Palin Rumor Mill" (via Instapundit)

UPDATE: More Obama v. Palin at Bookworm Room.

UPDATE: Tony Blankley via Powerline:

[W]orse than all the unfair and distorted reporting and image projecting are the shocking gaps in Obama's life that are not reported at all. The major media simply have not reported on Obama's two years at New York's Columbia University, where, among other things, he lived a mere quarter-mile from former terrorist Bill Ayers. Later, they both ended up as neighbors and associates in Chicago. Obama denies more than a passing relationship with Ayers. Should the media be curious? In only two weeks, the media have focused on all the colleges Gov. Palin has attended, her husband's driving habits 20 years ago, and the close criticism of the political opponents Gov. Palin had when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

But in two years, they haven't bothered to see how close Obama was with the terrorist Ayers.

Nor have the media paid any serious attention to Obama's rise in Chicago politics. How did honest Obama rise in the famously sordid Chicago political machine with the full support of Boss Daley? Despite the great -- and unflattering -- details on Obama's Chicago years presented in David Freddoso's new book on Obama, the mainstream media continue to ignore both the facts and the book. It took a British publication, The Economist, to give Freddoso's book a review with fair comment.

The public image of Obama as an idealistic, post-race, post-partisan, well-spoken and honest young man with the wisdom and courage befitting a great national leader is a confection spun by a willing conspiracy of Obama, his publicist (David Axelrod) and most of the senior editors, producers and reporters of the national media.




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Friday, September 19, 2008

Mayhem on Blogger

Blogger has been acting up and isn't fixed yet. I will not be posting until it's fixed, as it eats and doesn't show edits and updates to posts.

Until then, enjoy this funny from Rachel Lucas about all us decent but dumb non-Democrats.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why did Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae pay Obama so much money?

Kickbacks? Bribes? This story has been bothering me for several days (via Ace). And the recurring name of Jamie Gorelick is very unsettling.

Most unsettling is why we are not learning more about these stories in the mainstream media. What are the facts?

What's clear is that we taxpayers (and our children) are now on the hook for a very big bailout of seemingly corrupt agencies. What role did Obama, above all, play in this? Who's doing the digging?



UPDATE: This has not gone totally unnoticed.

UPDATE: Obama-- "That's what's broken in Washington." (via Ace)

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Less hype, smear, and distraction--more meat

For those of you who are aching for more substantive debate between the top Presidential campaigners, check out this side-by-side comparison of answers to 14 Science questions by Obama and McCain (via Little Green Footballs). And check out Victor Davis Hanson's take on the hype and the smear.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

A 9/11 tribute to Shreyas Ranganath


Srinivasa Shreyas Ranganath was beloved and admired by people who knew him on two continents.

He was born January 4, 1975 in the southern Indian town of Bhadravati, and grew up in the big city of Bangalore. “Shreyu” was remembered by family and friends as a sharply intelligent, fun-loving boy, with a mischievous grin, an outstanding singing voice, and a twinkle in his eye. He was the rallying central figure in the informal but intense cricket matches and hide-and-seek games that he played so passionately with neighborhood friends on warm summer nights in the streets or in the backyard of his family’s home. Even as a youngster “Shreyu” seemed to have more than a hint of the hero and the role-model about him—many of his friends sensed it, and no one looked up to him and admired him more than did his own younger brother, who knew him best.

As Shreyas grew older and attended middle school and high school with his friends, he was transformed into a serious and diligent student devoted to his education--not afraid of hard work and very willing to immerse himself in books. Yet along with his mental talents, he also had a generous spirit. At 16, while a member of the National Cadet Corp and attending a camp event, he pretended to be 18 years old so that he might, along with the adults there, donate blood to the wounded soldiers in the Indian Army. It was evident to many who knew him that Shreyas was “a great soul.”

He studied at the Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering in Bangalore, and lived in the Basavangudi area of the city. But his interest in seeing the world and “meeting people of different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs” brought him to the United States, where he enrolled in the master’s degree program in Electrical Engineering at the University of Utah. Completing only one semester (Fall 1999), he decided to return to India—either because of health problems, as one source said, or because he found the winters in Utah too cold. Friends and colleagues who knew him in Utah remember him as soft-spoken, “the sweetest person I’ve ever known,” and “a very sincere student, very quiet, not into parties.” He did, however, like eating the sandwiches at the local Subway deli.

Back in his hometown of Bangalore, Shreyas developed a new passion. Once the center of British colonial rule in South India, Bangalore is now the country’s third-largest city with a population of over 6 million, and is known as India’s “Silicon Valley,” the center of high-tech innovations. There Shreyas became an expert professional in software design. “For him, it became an addiction,” said one friend. “He had a great love for software.”

He landed a job at Wipro Technologies, a global software services company, and “the largest independent R&D services provider in the world.” He worked long 16- and 18-hour days as a code-cruncher, but loved the work. And he still found time to help others, including bright young kids from his neighborhood who needed financial help to stay in school.

At the age of 26 he, along with three other colleagues from Wipro-Bangalore, was sent abroad to work as a software consultant on a three-month project for the firm of Marsh & McLennan Companies, a global professional services firm which in 2001 had 57,000 employees and an annual revenue of $10 billion. Once again Shreyas found himself able to visit the United States, enjoying his work while seeing new places and meeting new people (with his Sony Walkman as his “constant companion,” usually playing his favorite songs by the Irish rock band U2). He was assigned to work specifically for Marsh Inc., an insurance brokerage subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, located on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One in Manhattan.

A longtime friend and fellow employee of Wipro offered to share his Hackensack, New Jersey home with Shreyas and one of the other three consultants on the same assignment, Shashi Kiran L. Kadaba, a young man who was engaged to be married the following year. These three men spent many congenial evenings together, cooking elaborate meals of gourmet Indian food, or watching Hindi movies. Shreyas “appreciated Hollywood movies,” said the friend, “but he had a great taste for Indian movies.” On the evening of September 10, 2001 the three consumed “a wonderful dinner” in honor of the birthday of the Hindu god Krishna.

The following morning, a clear and beautiful Tuesday, Shreyas Ranganath and his three fellow colleagues from Wipro in Bangalore (Hemanth Kamar Putter, Deepika Kumar, and Shashi Kiran Kadaba) reported for work as usual. When they spoke by telephone with their immediate superior in Bangalore, “the four sounded cheerful, at the beginning of yet another busy day in New York.” About an hour later they were murdered along with 291 other employees and associates of the Marsh & McLennan Companies who worked on floors 93 to 100 of the North Tower. Forty-six other Wipro employees present in New York City that day were spared.

Shreyas Ranganath touched the hearts of many people in his short life. He had a certain quiet charm, a twinkle of fun, and an easy, sweet nature that many would later remark upon. His hard-working diligence, his excellence in his chosen field, and most of all, his generous spirit were his gift and inspiration left to the world. Wipro named a hall in Bangalore in his honor; the Marsh & McLennan monument and website bear his name. But more permanent than stone are the memories of small kindnesses and the not-so-small contributions he left and still leaves in the lives of the people he personally touched as he passed.

Shreyas Ranganath is not forgotten.




I have reposted this tribute (first run last September 11th, 2006).

This story is just one among 2,996 as told by The 2,996 Project. I did not know Shreyas Ranganath but after having written his story, I am sorry I didn't. I will not forget him.


UPDATE: Alan LaFrance was another man murdered on 9/11/2001. Matt Labash has written a moving story of him and his wife, Edlene, that appeared at The Weekly Standard, "A Year of First and Lasts." Matt's first encounter with the LaFrance family took place shortly after 9/11 and is described in his article, "South Toward Hell." Alan LaFrance was a 43-year-old freelance audio-visual technician working in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center that morning when he too was murdered by Mohammed Atta.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Happy Saturday

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Way to go, Sarah Palin!

Now that's change we can believe in!

Breath of fresh air is right. This lady is classy, funny, likable, impressive. And she also happens to be articulate and conservative, an effective and accomplished advocate for fiscal responsibility and economic liberty. Finally, a woman who exemplifies the best of our present and our future.

Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington. That's change we can believe in! That's the change we need.

Thanks, Sarah!

And also thanks to the Fred, Rudy, and Senator Lieberman, for stepping up and saying so well what needs to be heard in this country.

Thanks to all of these leaders for speaking for me.


UPDATE: WOW. This is a must-read: Bill Whittle's essay, "Proud of the GOP," gives his eloquent and stunned reaction to the speeches of McCain and Palin. "A candidate who is young, funny, well-spoken, intelligent, charming, drop-dead gorgeous — and one of ours? Is this actually happening?...For the first time, I feel like we deserve to win more than they deserve to lose."


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Monday, September 01, 2008

Our trip to Alaska, part 2

Continuing with a few pix from our vacation in July (part 1 is here).


DAY 6: Anchorage


Snow City Cafe in downtown Anchorage.
We ate there three times.
I highly recommend the eggs benedict.

DAY 8: Denali National Park


The view from bus 290
on the road back from Wonder Lake

From this bus on our 11-hour, 85-miles ride along a gravel road through the park, we saw: snow-covered lower mountains, kettle ponds, tundra, fir and willow forests, Polychrome Pass, the new Eielson Visitor Center, Wonder Lake, and lots of wildlife.

We saw a lynx hunting right beside the road; five grizzly bears (including a “sow” and her two “springers”—cubs born that spring); many Dall sheep and many caribou on the distant hillsides, recognizable through the binoculars; many snowshoe hares (wearing their dark-grey summer coats) and ground squirrels on and along the road. I also saw a hoary marmot and we saw white-fronted geese, ptarmigans, several Golden eagles, and an Arctic tern (along with less exotic magpies and seagulls). We also saw four grey wolves, including two alpha males who loped along the road in front of the bus for a mile or so.


DAY 9:


The snowshoe hares are numerous and
bold as
urban pigeons or park squirrels
and can strip a garden of blooms
or fruits in minutes.


DAY 10:

The Recycling Center in Palmer, Alaska
(home of the Alaska State Fairgrounds).


Oh yes, we also stopped for coffee in Wasilla.


To be continued.

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