Tuesday, March 31, 2009

10 Web Sites That Will Matter in 2009

10 Web Sites That Will Matter in 2009 - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership
For sure, 2008 was the year of Twitter, Facebook and Hulu. Here are 10 new or up-and-coming sites that have a good shot at emerging as the fastest growing and most buzz-worthy of 2009."

Pinch and Spread: The Battle Over Multitouch Tech Is On

Pinch and Spread: The Battle Over Multitouch Tech Is On: Wired Magazine
The Pre, Palm's ridiculously slick new mobile phone, stole the show at CES this year. Good looks helped, but mainly it was the Pre's iPhone-like touchscreen technology that wowed the industry crowd.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The World’s First Flying Hotel!

The World’s First Flying Hotel! oobject - Daily User Ranked Gadget Lists:
"Wow, the flying hotel and largest helicopter in the world, Cool! The Hotelicopter is modeled on the Soviet-made Mil V-12, of which there were only two prototypes ever made."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Media distortion damages both science and journalism - opinion - 27 March 2009 - New Scientist

Media distortion damages both science and journalism - opinion - 27 March 2009 - New Scientist:
WHEN media reports state that scientist X of Y university has discovered that A is linked to B, we ought to be able to trust them. Sadly, as many researchers know, we can't.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

MIT student picking up friend at airport nearly shot, charged with "infernal machine" crime

MIT student picking up friend at airport nearly shot, charged with "infernal machine" crime[Politech]
An MIT student named Star Simpson was apparently picking up a friend at
Boston Logan airport and wore a sweatshirt with a breadboard and some
LEDs and a 9V battery. She had created it for a student career day."

How you’re being watched on the Internet

How you’re being watched on the Internet – and what to do about it
Is the Internet rapidly becoming less of a safe, free and open place for our ideas, opinions and communication? One could convincingly argue that it is. Here is what the situation looks like today and what you can (and should?) do about it.

Caffeine as a performance enhancer

It's Time to Make a Coffee Run
"Caffeine is one of the few performance enhancers that are not banned by the World AntiDoping Agency, and studies have proved that it does work in athletes' favor."

Well so does eating regular food and drinking water. So are they going to ban eating and drinking a few day's before a competition?

Is media finally getting over global warming?

The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com:
"Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.” Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with Salon.com that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession” — the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism.

Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”"

Friday, March 27, 2009

First course is red herring, second course is crow

First course is red herring, second course is crow Good Morning Silicon Valley:
Posted by John Murrell on March 27th, 2009 at 12:55 am
DNA evidence — powerful stuff for law enforcement, identifying criminals and securing convictions, better than fingerprints, much better than eyewitnesses. Yep, follow the DNA if you want to nab your man. Or woman. Or mannish-looking woman. Or not."

For more than 15 years, police in Germany and neighboring countries have been following the trail of a violent, erratic and remarkably elusive criminal who left traces of DNA at more than 40 crime scenes, including six murders. From the evidence, police knew the suspect was a woman of Eastern European descent, but nothing more. She became known as the “The Woman Without a Face” and “the Phantom of Heilbronn,” after the city in southern Germany where she allegedly killed a policewoman, and a $400,000 reward was posted for her capture.

Tea Parties And Thugs

IBDeditorials.com: Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor's Business Daily -- Tea Parties And Thugs
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Media Bias: The press need not support every protest it covers. But when it ignores a grass fire movement against government spending while its favored politician watches closely, then there's dereliction of duty."

"The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government"

European Parliament speech of 26/03/09. Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP for the South East of England and author of The Plan. Thanks to The Rational Capitalist for pointing this one out and I totally agree that we need more politicians like this guy.

Erosophia: Objectivist Blog Carnival

A collection of Objectivist articles at Erosophia: Objectivist Blog Carnival including a couple of my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cows v/s Cars

On my way to the farm at times I take a short cut. A herd of cows on this rural road clogged the traffic. These cows are from the neighbouring state of Rajasthan -identified by their long horns and the Rajasthani guys next to them :)


I had got this beautiful little snake from the farm in a box to show to my nieces and nephew. I was told it was a baby python. While taking it out to feed it I got bitten twice on my hand (I know, very foolish). I assumed I just needed a tetanus shot but the specialist at the hospital knew nothing about snakes. So since we couldn't be fully sure that it was not poisonous I had to get the anti-venom which was through IV so it took 7 hours. They wanted me to put me in ICU but I thought even the anti-venom was a big overkill.

Right now it is the tetanus shot which is bothering me a lot. Other then that the pain is due to the embarrassment. I had at least half a dozen incredulous nurses beside a few doctors in the ER coming and asking how I got bit (not many snake bites in the city and even lesser with captured snakes). My supervisor and workers are going to have a good laugh -and rightly so.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Unearthly Earth Hour

What happens to a society when it is abandoned by or ignores it's intellectuals? It celebrates the Earth hour. When Sydney did that by switching off its light, I was dumbstruck. When you see the picture of the Earth's city lights- you see civilization, life, progress. In comparison the darkness hides the human misery. It is a living memory of the dark ages. Suddenly for a moment the darkness returned, winning a battle after a century of spreading lights.

The agents of dark ages have now come to America- to the birth place of the inventor of electricity. The stakes are raised now. America, which has been a beacon of Enlightenment to the rest of the world has to decide. Will it surrender to the collectivists or tell them to go back to their dark hell holes. Let this a warning of things to come. I felt like yelling out what L-C said on The New Clarion - For every light you turn off, I’m going to turn on three.

Today if you switch the lights off voluntarily, tomorrow there might not be an option to turn them back on. I will tell you what happens when the lights are switched off. I work on a poultry farm on the outskirts of New Delhi, India and we get an average of less then three hour's of electricity everyday. We spend a fortune on generators, diesel and maintenance. Every month someone from the farm has to go to the government run electricity office to ask for our bill. We get one day to pay the billed amount.

Our jet pumps and water motors keep developing problems due to poor quality of electricity. We have to repair local transformer our self if something goes wrong. The linemen will not come without a bribe although others will drop by to threaten us with disconnection or worse due to some imagined misconduct on our part (pay up or else). Because of electricity or lack of it we can't expand easily, install electronic security without expensive backup and it makes life hell in temp. of 110 deg. Fahrenheit in the summers.

Some of my favourite pictures have been night shots of American cities shinning with lights. It makes me feel like they are celebrating civilization's birthday everyday. So when somebody talks about switching lights off voluntarily and celebrating the Earth hour I feel like telling them- don't be a fool, that's the unearthly hour- which from where I come from, we are always trying to escape.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Alternative to Earth Hour

Coming from India where we routinely suffer power cuts due to mixed-market policies of the government, I found this post from The New Clarion fantastic.
In honor of Edison Hour, which was coincidentally established by the University of Michigan Students of Objectivism and myself, and also in tribute to Human Achievement Hour, households and businesses across the nation will be keeping their lights and other electrical devices on, and refusing to concede the unearned guilt that environmentalists want to establish in our culture."
Read more of this inspiring post here.
Lets use the wavelength of both light and philosophy to keep darkness at bay.

Debunking the Israeli 'women in combat' myth

This is in response to a comment on my post "Women in the special forces?" by Steven Brockerman which was:
What about the the War of Independence (1948) in which Israeli women engaged in combat? From what I've researched, they functioned very well. As far as I can determine, moreover, there were no differences in the physical requirements for either male or female soldiers--except that all were expected to kill the enemy. Which they all did quite effectively, IIRC.

Well Steven here's an article by Jon Dougherty which should answer your question. Do read the full article.

Debunking the Israeli 'women in combat' myth: "'History shows that the presence of women has had a devastating impact on the effectiveness of men in battle,' wrote John Luddy in July 27, 1994, for the Heritage Foundation backgrounder.
'For example, it is a common misperception that Israel allows women in combat units. In fact, women have been barred from combat in Israel since 1950, when a review of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War showed how harmful their presence could be. The study revealed that men tried to protect and assist women rather than continue their attack. As a result, they not only put their own lives in greater danger, but also jeopardized the survival of the entire unit. The study further revealed that unit morale was damaged when men saw women killed and maimed on the battlefield,' Luddy said."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Go green, just don't do it here

The title of the post is from one of the comments posted on foxnews in response to article Feinstein: Don't Spoil Our Desert With Solar Panels
California's Mojave Desert may seem ideally suited for solar energy production, but concern over what several proposed projects might do to the aesthetics of the region and its tortoise population is setting up a potential clash between conservationists and companies seeking to develop renewable energy.

Aesthetics of a barren desert? Tortoise population is more important then human population? Although I am no fan of solar energy -which would be not exist in a free market- the point is that this story shows us that for environmentalists and their ilk it's not really about clean energy, environment or anything else. It's really about being anti-man in the sense that everything else (a tortoise, spotted owl, some fish, insect, tree or an insect) is preferable over human beings. Ayn Rand said almost 40 years ago:
"The worst fears of land conservationists concern not the accidental spoilage of land by waste. but its exploitation by man to build mines, roads and cities. In time he may encroach so far on his greenery that he reduces the amount of air he has breathe."
The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

Feinstein said Friday she intends to push legislation that would turn the land into a national monument, which would allow for existing uses to continue while preventing future development.

An empty barren desert as a national monument for America? You've got to be kidding me. Lets declare New York skyline as a national monument and restore it to it's pre-9/11 glory. Even better, let people build a new city in the desert. Allow people to flourish in it without hindrance and then declare it a national monument. Lets tell the good senator that there is no place in American politics for people who want to prevent future development.

The Wildlands Conservancy orchestrated the government's purchase of the land between 1999-2004. It negotiated a discount sale from the real estate arm of the former Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroad and then contributed $40 million to help pay for the purchase.

During early days the government saw wisdom in letting people stake claims to newly discovered lands and let them flourish. Now it is buying it back to prevent development. When will majority of Americans see through these people? When will development not be a dirty word? They are using money taken as taxes from productive people to help finance there anti-productive ventures. The irony is that the land was bought from Santa Fe Railroad which built its railway over the legendary Santa Fe trail ruts. It was Santa Fe trail which conquered the prairie with its commerce. The story of the Santa Fe Trail is a story of trade and the railroad further enhanced that story.

"If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it," Schwarzenegger said at Yale University.

Even the Governor who became green in effort to fulfill his political goals is going green in the face with frustration.

"The opportunity we see in the Feinstein bill is to jump-start our own efforts to find the best sites for development and to come up with a broader conservation plan that mitigates the impact of the development," Douglas said.

Ayn Rand said in the "The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution" that there is no such thing as a "restrained progress". Mitigated development is a contradiction in terms. As for the conservation, it is clear that they want to conserve anything, except man.

"There's plenty of room in America's deserts for the bold expansion of renewable energy projects," Duran said.

I hope there is room in America's mind for the bold expansion of reason and enlightment else we are headed for the new dark ages.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

Check the March 19, 2009 edition of the Objectivist Round Up at: http://www.amymossoff.com/ideas/843/objectivist-round-up-88/

Fasting to increase the lifespan

There is an interesting post on Whole Health Source about intermittent fasting titled Horesis.

Intermittent fasting is one of the most promising forms of hormesis. It's consistent with the variable energy intake our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably experienced. As with some other forms of hormesis, it has broad-ranging effects on health and stress resistance. Alternate-day fasting, a version in which food is available for 24 hours ad libitum and then not available for the next 24 hours, increases mean lifespan in mice under some conditions without reducing calorie intake.

Although only a few studies have been performed in humans, IF looks promising for preventing or reversing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, overweight and possibly other health problems.

In poultry hens go through a process of moulting which according to the poultry site is

"shedding and renewing of feathers. During the moult the reproductive physiology of the bird is allowed a complete rest from laying and the bird builds up its body reserves of nutrients.

Force moulting is a practice adopted by some commercial egg producers to bring about a rapid moult so that all the birds come back into lay for a second time at a certain time of the year, usually in autumn."

The hens are starved for about 10-12 days to induce moulting. I have seen birds grow new feathers, there combs get redder and they look reinvigorated. There productive life span is increased from 72 weeks to about 90 weeks and more if they are molted again (alternate to moulting is slaughter.)

So it makes you think about the possibilities in human beings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

V-22 Osprey in Iraq

I have been interested in Osprey tiltrotar (VSTOL) since it's controversial development days. I wonder if it would have been different or more evolved if it wasn't for opposition to the project and it's delay during Bush years. It is a marvel of engineering- the proproters (rotors) are connected to each other by interconnecting shafting which provides power to single engine power to both proprotors in the event of an engine failure. I think it has potential to make a fantastic gun ship with GAU-8/A Avenger 30mm, hydraulically-driven seven-barrel Gattling-type rotary cannon.

World War techniques used by the U.S. Army

"Speedy Knowledge As A Weapon" on the strategypage discusses the elaborate scenarios created by the army to familiarise the troops with the enemy combat techniques and ways to counter them. Its a fascinating account of the these film set like settings which were used in both the World Wars. These are created using current data and distributed to the troops using Internet.

American at heart

I wrote "Living under socialism" a few days back where I had mentioned being an American at heart. Jasmine had posted a comment which I liked so much that I wanted to share with others.

Residing in the U.S. now I can completely relate with your description of "people like me who are American at heart (born in the wrong place)"! That 'Americanism' more fundamentally is actually a sense of life and matches with the Founding Fathers vision of a free country in my understanding. That is what I feel completely at ease with and is the very same sense of life which unites those of us living in different countries and parts of the world I believe. I will unabashedly and proudly say it is our world whatever part of the world we live and not theirs-or as Ayn Rand's novel states -"We The Living"!! A sunlit universe....Having spent 28 formative years in India, I also am constantly inclined to tell people here -don't do this to this great country -do you people understand the path and future you are taking yourselves towards? Ask me (!) I have come from that past and absolutely do not want to go back to that kind of life!

Thank you once again Jasmine.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The counter-attack against Ayn Rand

Paul Hsieh has posted this on the OActivist.
The too-brief honeymoon that Ayn Rand has enjoyed in the media is now over, and the anti-Rand counterattack is now in full swing. There have been a number of recent high-profile articles disparaging Rand and her ideas, including:
"Ayn Rand is the last role model we need right now" (Independent)
Do their misrepresentations of Rand make you mad? They make me mad.

Damn right they make me mad so in response to the one written in the Independent, I wrote:
I wish you had come to India where I live instead of Cambodia. Most people have seen in the recent past how difficult it is to live and work for productive people in a place where profit was a dirty word, it is very easy for people here to understand what Rand was talking about in the "Atlas Shrugged". The coming out (even partially) out of the socialist pit was like a lifeline for the people and which has bought unprecedented rise in living standards and made heroes and icons out of people like the billionaire Ambani brothers.

It's not about strong trampling the weak instead its rewarding competence and giving freedom to people to pursue there goals and happiness. The example you give of an injured child being ignored was more likely to happen in the socialist past then it is today where there is a thriving media willing to highlight injustices and people are more willing to share there prosperity and help others.I wish that the author of the article was more through in her research and had Ayn Rands views before writing such a piece.

What is it about such a philosophy which advocates rational self-interest and capitalism as its expression- essentially freedom for people to deal with each other without govt. interference- that brings out such misleading and negative comments. Who could have thought that the very idea of free people could scare so many people.

Mention on Gus Van Horn blog

I am pretty kicked about getting mentioned on Gus Van Horn's blog.
Second, and from the bulk of the new additions -- promising, (mainly) Objectivist blogs that have recently come to my attention -- is Rajesh's Objective Extrospection. In fact, I first learned of his blog just yesterday. Go there for a look at India's recent past -- and the future Obama has the unmitigated ... audacity ... to wish on America. His post is titled, "Living under Socialism".
He has also included me on his blog roll. This has been my first month of serious posting so it's quite encouraging.

Is Rand Relevant?

Yaron Brook's op-ed in the Wall St. Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123698976776126461.html Here is my comment:
Great article Dr. Brook. Ayn Rand's is more relevant today then ever and it is proved by the interest her philosophy is attracting. I live in India where she is very popular. Since most people have seen in the recent past how difficult it is to live and work for productive people in a place where profit was a dirty word, it is very easy for people here to understand what Rand was talking about in the "Atlas Shrugged". The coming out (even partially) out of the socialist pit was like a lifeline for the people and which has bought unprecedented rise in living standards and made heroes and icons out of people like the billionaire Ambani brothers.

It happened because the country went bankrupt and the government had no choice but to loosen the socialist shackles. But if this brush with capitalism is not backed by the backbone of philosophy there is always the risk of reversing the gains made in the recent past.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fighter planes of World War I

A fascinating post at The Dougout2 about the development of fighter planes of WW I. One of the first scale models I did was a Spad XIII (actually it was the easiest one to do). Unlike the real ones my Spad met its demise in a one sided dogfight with an evil duster.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Living under Socialism

It was the summer of 89 and I was in my second year of college doing my B.Com. I was working for my father in New Delhi. He had a factory where we made cast iron machine parts. A few years ago the government had set quota's for the pig iron used for casting. The criteria for quota was whatever quantity had been bought during the previous months. It was the start of the shortages, black market and bureaucratic interference in the business which was already very difficult to conduct. There were dozens of inspectors from various departments and they had be paid-off or you could forget about doing any business. There were so many ridiculous laws that it was impossible to comply with them even if you wanted to.

One of my jobs was to check with the local govt. office if our quota of pig iron had come. I had to go to the office which was on the outskirts of the city on my puny scooter between rashly driven trucks since nobody would tell you anything on the phone even if you somehow got through. One time I went their consecutively for three days , stood outside the office (no place to sit and during summer it can reach 44 deg. C/111 F.) and still had no news of our iron. Since there were no mobile phones at that time and no payphones around I had to beg some official to let me use his phone to make a call.

The staff was indifferent at best of times and outright hostile at other times. All the offices were dull, dusty, drab, dreary and every time you entered one your heart sank a little at the prospect of dealing with people who didn't even bother to look at you and were deliberately dismissive. If you persisted they would snap at you like a rabid dog and it was almost physically painful when you had be very polite and use deferential tone even when you wanted scream at them and ask them if they were human before grinding there faces in the pile of dusty files in front of him.

Sometimes I wish I could have made a virtual tour of the whole experience for the benefit of those people who want more regulation, more interference and remind them of those days. As such we are hardly out of the license and inspector raj and some people want to drag us back to those evil times.

I wish I could tell people in America that I had lived through the worst case scenarios portrayed in "Atlas shrugged" by Ayn Rand. A society which mocks and denigrates the achievements of it's producers is not a pleasant place to live in. I dreaded the days when some new teacher would ask kids about their fathers profession and I kid you not when I say that after saying my father was a businessman I would see contempt and in one particular case downright hostility. This one teacher got on my case and constantly taunted me by saying why did I have study since my father was a big businessman I didn't have to worry about making a living anyway.

I wonder about America's capacity for more abuse. Is Obama going to be the last straw? Is he going to turn people away from socialist idea's by proving their futility and failure. With Santelli's rant on CNBC getting widespread support and a lot of resistance to the bailout I would say Americans are not ready to throw in the towel and surrender meekly. With core of objectivist activists leading the way their is still hope for the greatest country in the world. And don't forget people like me who are American at heart (born in the wrong place) who will do there best to keep it that way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maruti Suzuki wants to sell less cars

Few days back I went to the Maruti's (Nariana, Delhi) car service outlet. There were signs all over the place wanting people to avoid using their cars once a week and instead use the public transport. I asked a couple of officials who were around the reason for it and they said that the company was pro-environment and they wanted me to admire the various measures like their compost pit etc. (you get the idea). When I explained that I thought that the sign was illogical and if they thought that their cars were damaging the environment wouldn't it make more sense to simply use public transport everyday and completely do away with the cars. He had no answer and he explained that it was their GM's idea and since he was standing just behind us why didn't I talk to him.

He introduced me to the GM (who comes to work on a bicycle) who was flabbergasted when he heard about my objection to his sign. He just blurted that this was the first time someone had any problems with the environmental message of his. When I explained that it was illogical for a business to want it's customers to use less of it's product and that it made no sense, he became outright hostile and said that I was entitled to my opinion and that he didn't want to argue with me. He softened a little when I patiently explained that I was a big admirer of the company (first modern car maker in India) and that I assumed that his message was for welfare of his customers and people in general. If that was so then it made more sense for company to sell more cars, build more plants, establish more dealerships and continue to bring prosperity as it had been doing in the past (and not go back to riding bicycles).

The guy first refused to acknowledge that using less of a product means selling lesser amounts of it and tried to bluster his way out by asking me if I had been to Australia and if knew how things worked there? (made no sense at all). I said I was very well informed (didn't go to Moon to know about the terrain on it) but I was more interested in his reasons for his action here in India. He just said a thing can't be wrong if so many intellectuals had come together and decided that this was what was right. Ah! the consensus thing again. I reminded him that just a few centuries ago only one man on the planet said that it was spherical and the rest believed it was flat and that it didn't change the fact that it was round just because millions said it wasn't so.

Reality, reason and logic are not decided by a popularity contest. Needless to say that the conversation didn't go anywhere but I made my point and objection heard (had an audience of three junior officers). The GM who I believe is a IIT and management school product was less open to reason then his lesser educated juniors. The so called institutes of higher learning have become places of non-reason and anti-intellect. These people who should be proud flag-bearers of capitalism have turned suicidal and instead embraced all sorts of irrational and anti-man ideologies. All we can do is object to these stupid things and try to get our point across using reason as our primary tool.