This Dalai Lama Visa thing…

First off, can I point out that it’s easy to say the right thing when you’re not the one facing the consequences. But when you’re the one running the country, it’s not smart to piss off one of your major trading partners for the sake of one individual who thinks he’s god. Foreign policy has never been about doing the right thing or fighting for the underdog. It’s about doing what is in our best interest. How will granting the Dalai Lama a visa benefit SA in tangible terms? It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out why Zuma is refusing to give the Dalai Lama a Visa. Tutu can play the saint all day long, he has nothing to lose, only favours to gain. It’s a different story when you have to answer to why your country suddenly lost a big portion of its bilateral trade with one of the foremost economic powerhouses in the world.

Let’s talk about the Dalai Lama now, who’s really just a guy born at the right place and the right time. I don’t believe in any of this divine being nonsense so to me, he has very little claim to Tibet. If you look at the average Tibetan youngster, they use phones, listen to music, browse the internet and play games. They don’t want to become monks and lead nomadic lives the way their ancestors did. They want what the modern world has to offer – gaining independence takes away all of that and puts them right back to the stone age.

Tibet is extremely poor because of its geo-location. Farming is hard, transportation is treacherous…there’s very little going for it other than their yaks. Having said that, the Chinese government has given Tibet roads, an airport, jobs, food, water & electricity, etc. The BASIC needs. Sure, freedom of speech is important, but I don’t think it is more important than food and water. Give a really poor man a choice between Facebook or a good meal, I bet he’ll choose the latter every single time.

The point is, having China’s influence and its resources meant Tibet is no longer this extreme, horrible place. There are about 150k refugees out of a population of 6m. Compare that to the 50 m Afghan refugees or the 2.5 m Iraqi refugees that fled their country because of the US invasion, China doesn’t look too bad all of a sudden.

The independent Tibet dreamed by the Dalai Lama would be a theocracy where religion governs life. That, coupled with its harsh environment would make Tibet backward and isolated. I can’t imagine how the quality of life could increase without China’s hand in this.
My point is SA need to calm their socks about this Visa thing. People get denied Visas all the time. Losing billions of trade is the more concerning issue.

Just an average girl.

It takes me on average…
4 attempts to get a recipe right
And an hour to fall asleep at night
5 trips to recall how to navigate
The confusing roads of the interstate
3 days a week I’ll be wearing a dress
Thirteen-hundred is my rating for chess
You can tell me your name, just say it twice
But once is enough if you’re really nice
:)

Down with the flu & there’s not much to do. . .

Being sick sucks. Especially in summer. While everyone else is enjoying themselves on the beach and indulging in cocktails, I’m cooped up in my flat all by my lonesome, feeling sorry for myself. Until I discovered the brilliance of Awkward. It is far from the featherbrained display we normally associate with MTV shows.

Awkward is a funny, coming of age show about a girl who struggles with her identity as well as her feelings for the 2 boys in her life. The cliched premise is overwritten by the unique nature of the characters. I finished 2 season in 2 days, and couldn’t wait for more.

The main character, Jenna, is quirky, smart, and totally weird. Bad luck follows her like a plague, which I identify with a lot. Here’s the trailer for season 2:

PS. Forgot to mention, it features an Asian that is not Annoying. That get bonus points in my book.

Bad Luck, Worse Luck.

These past few weeks have been rather depressing. It feels like all the bad luck I’ve been accumulating since birth just exploded in my face. It all started with me losing my bag at Clifton. On the one hand, I should have been more careful; on the other hand I feel like I shouldn’t /have/ to be more careful. My absent-mindedness does not entitle people to exercise their kleptomaniac tendencies and the fact that it is such a common occurrence highlights one of the biggest drawbacks of living in an otherwise beautiful city.

Replacing all my keys was a bit of a bother. Luckily I managed to get everything sorted with the help of my friends :) I was a bit wary of blogging about losing my car keys because my overly-paranoid mind kept on thinking “What if the person was trolling the internet looking for someone who’d lost her keys at Moonstruck”? Dun dun dunn.

Soon after losing my keys, my glasses broke (due to a fault that’s not entirely my own). I spent ages looking for new frames on Saturday and couldn’t find any to my liking. The problem with Asian faces is that our noses are too flat to support the frames, so I always end up in one of two situations: 1) They sit so far down my nose that I look like a granny 2) They’re so close to my eyes that my eyelashes brush against the lenses. Sigh. I attempted to superglue the frames together but I have a sneaky suspicion that the lens is too big for the frame.

Last night, I thought I’d be a good domesticated girl and finish my ironing… and it ended up a rather holey experience. I don’t know how it happened, really. I was paying attention but alas, ironing (and house chores in general) is simply not my métier. I then spent a good quarter of an hour scraping the melted material off my iron -while it was still plugged in-. Probably not the best course of action… I blame Andy Pandy for the ill advice.


Chance to win (for me, not you)

I’ve been following (somewhat religiously) this really cool, awesome, and thought-provoking blog called You Are Not So Smart. The owner of the site has since published a book (actually, I’m not sure if it’s published or if it’s still in the pipeline) but the point is, as part of his promotional strategy, he is giving away something FOR FREE. From Think Geek no less!

Not really sure what this is, or does, but it's marked $99.99 - Hell yeah, I want one (if it's free)! Hmm, wonder if the geek's included? :p

Now, I’m sure you all know how much I adore free things. They make me *happy* – more so than chocolates and smoothies (individually, not together… obviously). In order to qualify for an entry to winning this Free Thing, I have to embed his book trailer (I had no idea such a thing even existed until today but I digress) in my blog. The trailer isn’t badly made. In fact, I really appreciate how it brings up the dialogue, because the person voicing it pronounces “because” and “want” in a really obscure manner. (I’m allowed to make fun of his accent because I have one too, so nobody can call me accentist, or something.)

Anyways, not to be sidetracked, this post is dedicated to my minute chance at winning the Free Thing.

Edit: Oops, almost forgot to embed that video. *doh* Here it is:

New York’s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, has filed a lawsuit against Ernst & Young (one of the Big Four auditing firms) over the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The civil case is built on claims of professional negligence and it seeks damages equalling all the audit fees E&Y has earned from Lehman ($150m) plus an unspecified amount. While the penalty itself is of insignificant magnitude (it is less than one percent of E&Y’s global revenue and will most likely be covered by insurance), the action highlights a rather contentious issue – that of an auditor’s liability.

Deep-pocketed auditors often serve as scapegoats because there is little chance of wrangling money out of those who are truly responsible. Should the case go to trial, the jury’s behaviour will be (at best) unpredictable. Their lack of understanding of the technical nature of the case at hand, fuelled by the emotional baggage that still lingers in the aftermath of the financial crises, coupled with the outrage at having to serve jury duty in the first place does not bode well for the auditors.

Auditors are commonly perceived as the watch dogs of the financial world. They recount bricks and pennies, and are paid quite handsomely for doing so. However, they are not detectives. Their primary role is not to prevent or detect fraud. Auditors are paid to express an opinion – not a guarantee – that the financials are fairly presented in all material aspects. The International Standards on Auditing (S 240) require auditors to obtain reasonable assurance (as opposed to absolute assurance) that the financial statements are free from material misstatements. I think this is the part that most people fail to recognize and accept.

The Lehman Brothers used Repo 105 to temporarily undermine its liabilities and reduce leverage long enough to ensure that the balance sheet does not look out of place to its investors. This methodology is in line with the American Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and complies with America’s Financial Accounting Standards Board. Ernst & Young has since been criticized for approving the Repo 105 transactions without examining enough transactions. In retrospect, perhaps they should have paid closer attention. However, one must keep in mind the size of Lehman Brothers and the number of transactions it processes on a daily basis. Auditors are not super-humans. With limited manpower, it is impossible to examine every transaction and scrutinize every detail.

If there is anything to be learned, it is that the accounting standards must be revised to ensure creative accounting maneuvers are kept to a minimum. The last thing we need is another Enron* debacle and the fall of a Big Four.

*Enron was an American energy, commodities, and services company that used special purpose entities to “cook the books”. Its bankruptcy also saw the demise of its auditors, Arthur Andersen, who used to be one of the Big Five audit firms.