Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's the word: GM - Socialism OR Capitalism?

When the World's icon of democracy (US) bails out a poorly run private enterprise (GM) - critics derided that move as Socialist.

After the bailout, when the US Government relinquishes some of its shares into the hands of the monarchist and communist entities during the GM IPO, it is cheered as the hallmark of capitalism.

- 1% owned by Saudi Prince, Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, from the royal family of Saudi Kingdom - an Islamic Absolute Monarchy

- 1% owned by SAIC, an entity owned by the Chinese Government - a Single party state governed by the Communist Party of China

Strange Definition Indeed

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Families


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Man - A Rational Animal ?

Man - A Rational Animal ? Not so soon at least - not in 2010.

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this. – Bertrand Russell

I already have the last two events in my bucket list. I am adding the first one too.
Click on the links below.

Hologram Rock star - Japan 2010

Kumbh Mela - India 2010

Burning Man Festival, Nevada - US - 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

While rich countries diet -- Emerging countries load up on the debt diet

May 5 2010 : Greece:

Public sector pay frozen till 2014
Public sector salary bonuses - equivalent to two months' extra pay - scrapped for higher earners and capped for others
Public sector allowances cut by 20%
State pensions frozen or cut; contribution period up from 37 to 40 years
Average retirement age up from 61 to 63; early retirement restricted
VAT increased from 19% to 23%
Taxes on fuel, alcohol and tobacco up 10%
One-off tax on profits, plus new gambling, property and green taxes

Oct 2010 - France:
Retirement age up from 60 to 62

Nov 2010 - England:
Proposed fee rise, up from the current £3,290 per year to £6,000, with an upper tier of £9,000

South Korea: What next ?

  • Declining Birthrate
    1990:1.6 children
    2008: 1.2 children
  • Slower GDP Growth
    2000-04: 5.3%
    2005-09: 3.4%
  • Women in the Work Force
    South Korea: 53%
    All Developed Nations: 57%
  • Rising National Debt (pct. of GDP)
    2000: 16.7%
    2010: 32.1%

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's the word - Scientific or Indigenous? The Science of Indigenous Knowledge

<-- Excerpt from an email, edited for context -->

There are two ways of learning and leading one's life in the modern world.
1) Based on scientific proof / evidence
2) Based on Intuitive and evolutionary guidance that was passed over the years - I have been referring to this as indigenous contribution in my earlier email. My point is not necessarily specific to Hindu culture vs. Muslim culture vs. Native Americans vs. Aborigines Vs...

Over the years, we have demeaned ourselves by eliminating as much as we can on the second style in the name of being scientific and rational. 

Decades ago - when the modern scientific movement that is typically credited to the likes of Descartes and Newton for their reductionist approach to problem solving inherent in the scientific method originated, and Centuries ago where the likes of Socrates and Plato were credited for their contributions to logical thought process in the west -  there used to be a lot of holistic thinking and sometimes pagan thinking where Gods were invoked to explain all natural phenomenon - all over the world. Since then, we have made quite a lot of progress. 

However, what I mean by "pendulum has swung too far in the other direction" means that we have now started being totally analytical and are losing our instincts and have started questioning everything that falls in the second "traditional" category. We wait for the wisdom of the generations to be approved by the scientific community before we accept it.
And that is precisely where my problem is - that indigenous knowledge is being viewed with indignity because it is not backed by science. A healthy skepticism is OK, but not a fundamentalist approach to scientific reasoning!

Of course, the contributions from science and technology are vast and immense. I would be insane to downplay the effects of science. However, our unwavering faith in science is unfortunately misleading in some cases and increasingly making us lose our instincts.
We have come to rely so foolishly on science and technology that the email floated earlier this week - one is ready to go to war based on google maps, seems ludicrous.

In a few years, it would be like saying you don't exist / you are not alive because I don't see your profile on facebook :) OK - that was a joke!

Now, speaking of FDA and the health side of things
1) A few years ago - Babies were advised to sleep on stomach and then later they advised to sleep on back. One of my elderly friends jokes about this. They have two kids and the recommendation changed between the two. So he says - he screwed up one of them. Don't know which is right.
2) Atkins (high protein diet) and Bread for life diet (high carb diet) are both backed by science and contradict each other.
3) An entire generation was raised here on Orange Juice for breakfast until recently they started scaring the heck out of people with acidity advising them against consuming on empty stomach.
4) The shoe industry in the 70's started making shoes with heels (backed by science) till recently. Now there is science to prove that shoes with heels distort the natural running form and the heel strike is  causing more injuries. Hence the recent disruptive change in the shoe industry to go minimal and barefoot. So, now there is science to prove that forefoot striking is better. (10% of industry is minimal now - All the major shoe ones including Nike have minimal shoes now and this is a major growth segment)

The point is that there is science to prove anything and its contrary. A new born baby does not need scientific evidence from FDA on whether formula milk is good or breast milk is.
He/she is drawn to  instinctive and evolutionary knowledge passed over the generations.

I will end it with a crisp example that I read in the Systems thinking book about applied anthropology. Copying verbatim from the text book.

--Natives on the pacific island of Nauru traditionally drank a strong home-brew made from fermented palm leaves. But after world war one,  Nauru was mandated to Australia and prohibition was imposed. Infant mortality rose to 50% level within 6 months. The reason ?
The people's natural diet was so low in Vitamin B1 that infants being nursed got the required amount of it only when the mother was drunk. When the natives were allowed to drink again, infant mortality fell at once to seven percent.

My intention is not to sound as the radical anti-science guy. However, I am trying to draw the otherwise wise,  scientifically dependent, analytically left-brain guy to also rely on the   other side of brain, the instinctive side and have a healthy respect for the indigenous knowledge.