White Valentine

I wished someone a White Valentine, and they said, what is that? I said it comes every 24 years, and a couple gets to see it 2-3 times in their lifetime.

What is White Valentine?
When you hold your spouse’s/partner’s hand and look outside the window, you feel Valentine, and you see a white blanket of snow that makes it white Valentine! Enjoy your white Valentine. 🎂🎉🎁🎈💐

Well, jokes apart, I haven’t seen such a precipitous drop in temperature in over two decades. Fortunately, it is still cold, and the snow hasn’t yet got converted into ice. In Texas (like in London, yes London, you heard it right) don’t have snow plowers. So the snow melts and forms a layer of ice.

The Arctic Blast
While most Dutchmen are skating over the rivers, ponds and lakes, we in Texas still have water in a fluid state. So, the only place for us to skate or walk is on the roads. No, Dallas, Houston, Austin, or San Antonio are not desert areas, as claimed by this BBC report, and we do see scorching heat, sometimes reaching 110 plus F, that lasts a few weeks. However, temperatures as low as this are very, very uncommon.

Shivering to death
No, we are not. Our internal thermostats are adjusted between 68-72 F, and we hardly realize it. Besides, an evening next to the gas-fired fireplace provides an enchanting time with family.

Flora and fauna
Yes, they definitely have. Even the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. That saves them from extreme temperatures and transmission loss. I saw some unusual birds in the cedar trees; I believe the birds were clamoring for a warm place. I felt hapless and helpless that I could not shelter them in. My Elephant Ear plant was completely devastated despite covering it with appropriate warmth. In hindsight, I feel I should have trimmed those gorgeous leaves from the ground, but at 2′ wide, they looked so alluring, and I resisted the temptation of trimming. Yes, they are freezing, and I may lose a few more, like the Texas Blue Bonnet’s recently emerging seedlings. Fortunately, I have some seeds available that I can reseed but not sure if the blast will recur and when.

Yes, I will be having lovely Indian tea with cardamom and ginger, and I wish you too should sip and enjoy this rare White Valentine with your Valentine!

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

Note: I chronicled this blog, especially for those who are outside Texas. Below excerpts from BBC

Texas is known for its sprawling deserts and excruciating heatwaves – but right now, it’s blanketed in a thick layer of ice.
The state is seeing some of its coldest temperatures in more than 30 years, with some areas breaking records that are more than a century old.

Parts of Texas hit 0F (-18C) on Sunday, and weather warnings are going to stay in place through the week. So why is this normally boiling state suddenly freezing over?

US cold snap: Why is Texas seeing Arctic temperatures?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-56058372

Why I Ignored Farmer’s Protest

Farmer’s ongoing protests in the North have caught the attention, not just nationally but globally. Rheanna or Rita has not catapulted it to global attention. If you see this news from Nikkei Asia, the protest has been reported since September 2020. Just imagine, Corona had hardly receded, but these farmers, notwithstanding the implications of Covid, started aggregating and protesting.

Are farmers’ demands rational?
Irrespective of their demands being rational or not, the agricultural sector needs renovation and infrastructure investment. In 2019, I wrote an article on using strategies and execution to rejig the entire supply chain towards increasing the shelf life (of the produce), exactly the same way as the shelf life of grains. In a nutshell, the recommended changes were increasing rainwater conservation to increase the depleting table of water, adding several smaller catchments in areas with high rainfall or runoffs, strategies for spreading crops across varieties, harvesting and storage facilities, and consumer education on consumption. I am not sure if these changes across the value chain are reflected in the bill in some of the other forms. Farming is the foundation of the food chain, and supporting farming is important to nations’ critical infrastructure and resilience. My forefathers, like most of ours, owned small farming land (by American standard). Until her death, my grandmother lived in our village. Then why did i ignore the farmers’ protest?

https://mymilieu.org/2019/11/17/state-of-indian-economy/

Ideological intolerance
Those who were part of CovidRXExchange may recollect that our efforts were primarily focused on India despite being global. As a pro-bono activity, several doctors and intellectuals invested their time, efforts, and expertise to mitigate the clinical impact of Covid. These contributions were well recognized at several levels of bureaucracy, health, and planning and reflected in covid patients’ upliftment. The sole reason for citing this is that despite being away from the birthplace, we have always attached, but we come with a detachment and see a differing perspective.

I was trolled, belittled, and almost bullied 2-3 years back by my schoolmate when I wrote a critical piece. He and I shared a class bench. Anything against BJP is considered anti-national. You are immediately labeled a Kafir if you oppose or think of opposing any of their ideologies. In fact, this friend also deeply questioned my own commitment to the country, and of course, I was labeled as being under the influence of the Britishers (for reading BBC, the reference cited herein is from Nikkei Asia Review, a Japanese daily, and it is costly, not free). Like religious intolerance, ideological intolerance is fast sweeping India. India is a complex and profoundly diverse country. It is hard to manage the inbuilt controversies if we tend to do with an iron fist. Farmers’ protest is no different in that sense because it is intense in the North but without massive support elsewhere. It will be wrong to say their demands are irrational, but there must be a right way to negotiate and find a sweet spot, a balance that caters to the roadmap. Radical changes always meet resistance, and incremental changes have better adoption.

Trust all the stakeholders strike the right balance. Good luck with that!

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

India braces for mass protests over contentious farm bills
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/India-braces-for-mass-protests-over-contentious-farm-bills

Do COVID Stories Matter?

Sharing a story from a doctor’s family from the UK

The Pathologist lost her elderly doctor parents at a gap of two days. The Pathologist herself got Covid second time since she was not vaccinated. Her husband too got Covid. This is the new variant.

How do we use this information?
It is important to take the vaccine. Vaccination stops the virus from multiplying. No multiplication means no further mutations. So those vaccinated are better off. Now, does that mean vaccination won’t have adverse events? Let me say my parents, 84 and 78 had none. Some may have arthralgia (joint pain), fever, injection site pain or tenderness, lassitude etc. These are anticipated response to the vaccine. However, do contact your doctor, they will do their ‘due diligence’ but do not panic. Take Tylenol, rest (sleep) and healthy food while you schedule with your doctor.

Should i stop using masks after vaccination?
No, at least so far, science does not merit the discontinuation of masks. Also, check Federal, State and Local guidelines. The Biden administration is making mask wearing more stringent.

Is mask sufficient?
If you are visiting crowded places, closed spaces outside your bubble, people outside your bubble, wear double masks and use protective glasses/goggles. If i step outside for a walk, i use KN95 inside and Surgical (blue white) mask outside.

Is that enough?
No, remember, if you are breathing, you are transpiring air in and out. That also means you may transpire viruses, if those are in the vicinity.

What do we do?
Limit your exposure as much as possible. Yesterday (Sunday), I had a senior industry leader going for shopping/grocery. When asked why? He said, bro we have to eat! You can get home delivery, you can shop when on weekdays, before 2/3 pm when the traffic is light. Avoid Saturday/Sunday.

But there was no one around
Well, we all know, asymptomatic carriers too can shed viruses. How can you say, i am not expelling viruses?

Don’t Second Guess and Don’t Drop your Guards. You have a family to care.

(On behalf of CovidRxExchange)

Blog in Progress

“I believe if both countries put in the effort, the kind angels can triumph over evil forces.”

Above is the message from the Chinese Foreign Ministry for President Biden (POTUS now). I can see the overtures, the flirtations and i compare it to the dance of a male beetle to lure a female. While those flirtations are promiscuous, they hardly last longer. Especially, in the case of China, those can be a hug (huge) of death.

Two decades ago, it was all good between the US (along with the West) and China, when the US started insisting on stopping the steal of its intellectual property. Thereafter, it expanded to currency manipulation. Remember, currency manipulation is not in the WTO, but others measures of parity are. China, by then, found a backdoor. With IP stealing, it never had to do anything except censor its borders.

Over a period of time, the confrontation grew more rambunctious as did the polarization. More western countries joined the US bandwagon. Opportunism is an essential element of sly, and after the 2008 financial crisis, realizing the weakness in the US and global economic health, China started flexing its muscles.

Though IP copyright could be contested at the global apex trade body, currency manipulations was not. China reinvented itself and emerged with “reverse engineering” model that it applied to the Soviet Fighter planes of 1960’s. By now, it was the age of cybercrime. Initially, indulging in petty credit card theft, it steadily grew into cyber espionage and commercial stealing. Almost a horde of Cyberarmy was launched to … (continued) post interruption…

Hours after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, China sought to draw a line under four years of bitter tensions with Washington by urging the new administration to turn its back on the policies of Donald Trump. “In the past years, the Trump administration, especially Pompeo, has laid too many mines that need to be removed, burned too many bridges that need to be rebuilt, damaged too many roads that need to be repaired,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Thursday.

China urges Biden to reopen Trump-blocked lines of communication
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Biden-s-Asia-policy/China-urges-Biden-to-reopen-Trump-blocked-lines-of-communication

What’s So Gilded About the US democracy?

Why not? What’s so gilded about US democracy?

The epithet is resounding; it happened in America. Well, as though the US was fire-walled from such happening. The effigy of what happened on Jan 6, 2021, was written on the walls. It was brewing, and the tinder just required a fire. Trump represented a perfect example of that fire exploiting the raw sentiments.

I wrote this earlier, and I will rephrase it again. What happened on 1/6/21 is an expression of severe discontent, propelled the capitalist leaning philosophy. Readers may be wondering why a capitalist philosophy is responsible for the mayhem. Well, let delve deeper –

Let us look closely at the pictures of the mayhem at the Capitol and then reflect on the ultra-right roaring sensationalism; the root cause of all these lies in the loss of opportunities. This loss of opportunities created a huge swath of “Have Not’s” that ultimately led to the fusion of an ocean comprising of the rust belt, farmers, small businesses, farmers, and several legacy businesses that relied on an older model of businesses that made America Great! Those models were dismantled, not deliberately but with an imperative, to accommodate change, and change is imperative.

Inadequate Retooling
In their haste to remodel, the capitalist chose an easy path, a grotesquely unjust path of not retooling the skills. I will cite a few examples of those. When NAFTA was formed, the US and Canada wanted access to Mexico’s wider customer base for their industrial products. As collateral, the agricultural sector was compromised. The produce and crop that was hugely productive in the US moved beyond the borders and deprived the ordinary farmers of their livelihood – thus creating a bubble of discontent. Ideally, these farmers should have been retrained to do value-added agribusiness or alternative profession.

Another wave followed – to counter Russia’s threat, the US and the West propped up China. China, a ragged country with a dismal per capita income, became a cheap fuel source for manufacturing industrial and commercial products. Again, another bubble of discontent created what we call the rust belt. The discontent kept growing and simmering, ignored by the elite and the by-lanes of power.

Another bolt came from the emergence of Automation of Information Technology and Knowledge Workers. Educated and trained white-collar landed is swaths from India, South East Asia, and other countries. That workforce bolstered not just the IT and Knowledge Industry; it also propelled the GDP of the nation.

Not that the US had a dearth of Knowledge and Technologist, however the white-collar, who flew in droves, disrupted the entire work-life balance and created an alluring competition amongst the workforce, enticing the capitalist for cheaper and sometimes optimal labor. It was easy to invite immigrants to work here. After all, it takes years of investment to make a knowledge worker, rather than invite one to work. The capitalist chose a shortcut by again not retraining their folks and falling to the allure of draining the white collar from the poor, ramshackle economies.

Such bubbles kept growing, simmering, and sizzling. Discontent kept coalescing, widening the chasm between the vast ocean of “Have-Not’s” versus the “Have’s.” If I may venture, the republicans kept stoking that fire and exploiting it further.

Emergence of Trumpism
Trump is an expression of this discontent. As a smart businessman, he perfectly exploited the opportunity and got ensconced as the fountainhead and a leader of these marginalized blue-white-agri collar workers. The problem of making “America Great Again” lies in addressing these root causes. It will take years to heal the infractions and propel the nation forward on the path towards progress.

This challenge needs to be addressed by Joe Biden if he has to represent and stitch the nation as a whole.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

I’m reading It Happened in America via the ForeignAffairs app
https://reader.foreignaffairs.com/2021/01/07/it-happened-in-america/content.html

The hooligans of billionaire

While the ceremonial proceedings of accepting the newly elected Presidents were being conducted in the pulpit of democratic temple, an absolutely brazen act was unleashed by Donald Trump on the Capitol. The moment of truth has come, Joe Biden is now the President of the US.

Though such act throws us into revulsion, and it is easy to castigate the poor and the wrongly guided mob that burst out on the Capitol. However, it is yet another reflection of two things – of the widening chasm between the have’s and the Have Not’s and those who are ready to exploit the chasm.

President Trump has to provide an explanation. It is a must that he be removed even though only 13 days are remaining for his presidency to end. We never know what harm he will inflict further.

Excerpts from New York Times below –

Deplatforming: After the mayhem on Wednesday, the president was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours and from Facebook for at least the next two weeks, but Greg Bensinger argues in The Times that the bans should be permanent. “Jan. 6, 2021, ought to be social media’s day of reckoning,” he writes. “There is a greater calling than profits, and Zuckerberg and Twitter’s C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, must play a fundamental role in restoring truth and decency to our democracy and democracies around the world.”

Unleashing hooliganism on Capitol

By all means, the hooliganism at the Capitol is equivalent to treason. It is an act of sabotage and it should be treated appropriately. Those nay Sayers, let me ask you – If I were to provoke such act any legislative premise, threaten the lawmakers, ransack the house, and injure policeman, do you think I should be pardoned?

By no means, everyone should have a similar treatment in the eyes of law.

Shashank Heda,

Dallas, Texas

Pro-Trump mob storms Capitol, disrupting electoral count
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/US-elections-2020/Pro-Trump-mob-storms-Capitol-disrupting-electoral-count

Clemency, Exoneration, or Pardon

Stretching the maximum limits

I am not a student of law, so my concerns are at best gullible. Not that I haven’t heard clemency, exoneration, acquiescence or pardon for the first time. However, reading this news from NY Times, made me reflect on few issues on pardon –

  1. Pardon is essentially a post facto dispensation of a crime that has happened earlier in the temporal scale. That means, a crime is committed earlier and eventually, in rare circumstances, a pardon is considered and occasionally granted.
  2. Pardon, thus has an implicit submission of the occurrence of crime. It needs a bonafide evidence from jury to have established a crime, not just a suspicion of crime.
  3. As i understand, laws are universal and applicable to each and everyone, no one is above the law. At least that’s the prevailing understanding.
  4. Conflict of interest is strongly likely to create a bias and thus, to avoid a bias, building a neutral design to review the facts is critical to provide validity and moral standing to the disposition and outcome.
  5. Preemptive Pardons are this a criminal offense if one enjoys the status before intending to enjoy the privilege of indulging in a crime.

Trump’s self-pardon is thus unprecedented, it is an abrogation of the natural system of justice. It does not matter if the above five design principles cited by me are mentioned in jurisprudence and statutes of this country. It is, irrespective of its articulation, devoid of moral.

Should we stick to statutes and laws, or review the extraordinary instance as a precedence that some one taking cover and camouflaging oneself? Should we let this person escape because there is not enough built in safeguard in the system to do the diligence and decide and outcome?

I find it vertiginous to think of a self pardon. May be, let’s see how and what the law interprets this. It is stretching the limits of morals to the maximum.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

Coup d’etat

While a pseudo coup d’etat was being attempted at the global Capitol of democracy, the actual coup was pulled by China with the signing of the deal with Europe.

We deride Trump for whatever he did or whatever he is doing, but understand, Trump is a reaction to current challenges.

There is a certain homeostasis or a balance that works within nature and when that balance is perturbed, things go topsy turvy. No sane leader could counter China as much as Trump did. At every level – strategy, tactical or operations, he embedded right momentum to browbeat China, and right so, it is required.

It was pretty much evident, that a similar alliance, if persistent, could cordon off a sequestering philosophy of an aspiring middle kingdom to dominate the world.

Most economic coffers were after getting dried up, with the unleashing and smoldering from the pandemic. Chinese debt, was rising significantly from all its (mis)adventures – Ghost cities, BRI, Global ports and Sea Lines or the South China Sea debacle.

It was increasingly getting evident, that with the drying or the customers and the mounting debt, China would succumb under its own weight.

However, with the inking of this deal with EU, China has garnered a huge customer base to bail itself out of the current morass and get a reprieve from its crumbling weight of debt.

This coup d’etat was certainly beyond the radar and it was certain a surprise.

Shashank Heda,
Dallas, Texas

Analysis: China splits Atlantic with game-changing EU investment deal
https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/China-up-close/Analysis-China-splits-Atlantic-with-game-changing-EU-investment-deal

The Stockholm Syndrome Revisited

Well, let me caution the use of language, Trump’s language from 2016 GOP primaries. During along with nine member debate, Trump said Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, had a very small phallus. As if that was not enough, low energy and other rants were hurled at his GOP competitors. Today, after living with the Trump Captivity, Ted Cruz is ultimately a transformed man. Along with his Cabal, he is ready to disqualify a correctly conducted and court(s) validated outcome that Biden has won. Cruz and Cabal want those results thrown out and desperately want Trump to run the show at the cost of the nation.

What’s behind it?
Stockholm Syndrome is a survival mechanism. If you review the psychodynamics, you realize that a continuous opposition and despise of those keeping an individual in captivity plays deeply on the morale of the hostage. Feigning that they are ok superficially and having a deep discontent internally are likely to create cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a deeply demoralizing phenomenon, and the avoidance mechanism kicks in. That’s the transition that brings the alignment between the captor and the captive.

Gains? Rewards?
Simple, even if it is not Stockholm Syndrome, who would not want to inherit the legacy votes that Trump garnered? That’s the ruthless politics that people indulge, for political survival, even at the cost of the nation. Or maybe they know, let me play that role, some good cop may eventually come to the rescue. But it is worth inheriting that huge chunk of votes for future elections. Why squander?

850 Million Dollars?
As the Senate seats are being contested in Georgia, almost 800 plus millions have already been spent, for an outcome that was hardly a surprise. Democrats are leading both the seats, and it will provide a sway for President-Elect Biden to pass his policies.

Let’s hope for the best!

Shashank Heda
Dallas, Texas

More than 9/11

Well, 9/11 was a defining moment in the history of the US. Today was a most prominent landmark, an assault disproportionate and incomparable in any sense with even a nascent democracy from Africa.

A Dark Day in our modern history

Despite multiple thorough due diligence, court validations, and immense pressure on officials to reject the people’s verdict, finally, we came to a nail biting event of violence being unleashed on the sanctum Sanctorum of not just the US democracy but the entire global ideology of democracy.

An assault on democracy –

While the Georgia Senate runoff is being counted, and while both the chambers were going through a debate on approving the electoral count, precisely at that moment, all we see is demonstrators loyal to President Trump, creating mayhem by entering the capital building. I have a few Concerns – it was clear since morning that a crowd had gathered to protest both the houses? How could they arrive suddenly into the capitol building? Let’s imagine they would have surrounded Pense. Were they planning to ask him to disapprove the electoral votes? If that would have been done, have we missed our spot in the history of capsizing democracy?

Below, excerpts from select lawmakers –

“Today is a sad day for our country. The destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol Today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated,”

“Thugs assaulted Capitol Police officers, breached and defaced our Capitol building, put people’s lives in danger and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans,”

“insurrection incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”