Thursday, April 17, 2014

(God like) humans replace robots (Japan)

It is a desperate last moment fight against the inevitable but one has to give credit to the Japanese that are willing to lay down the gauntlet. More power to Mitusuru Kawai and his merry band of mechanics masters at Toyota.
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Inside Toyota Motor Corp.’s oldest plant, there’s a corner where humans have taken over from robots in thwacking glowing lumps of metal into crankshafts. This is Mitsuru Kawai’s vision of the future.

“When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.”


Kargil War: mother of GPS

Necessity as they say, is the mother of invention.

It is a popular staple in the Guardian (and elsewhere in the lefty press) that India cant afford to feed its children, yet boasts of a space (and other high budget) programs. It is tricky question that merits a multi-point response.



We are on-record being ambivalent about defense purchases (and the fact that India is the largest arms purchaser in the world). India spends way too much (to protect against Pakistan) and way too little (to counter China). When push comes to shove, even miniscule Maldives manages to shove India away. The military seems to have its most useful public face while helping out in natural disasters. Why not then have a self-defense force plus nuclear weapons to keep our borders safe?

As far as the space program is concerned the utility is without question. It is a profit making program and it gives us access to space in a way even our friendly friends would not provide to us. The striving for self-sufficiency (a long time goal of people across the ideological spectrum) can be seen to be a fetish (and a hang-over in response to our colonial past) but in this case it is fully warranted.

A tech-savvy Santa Claus

This is India after all...the wonder-land of the IT Parks...what else can one expect??

Hats off to those (poor, illiterate, low-information, rustic) fly-over-Konkan-coastal people who noticed that their rights have been infringed and found the courage to complain. Bravo!!!

We now know why so many information-gurus have committed their precious time for this election. Their impeccable qualifications and sense of public service aside, it was also in the national interest to make sure that the Indian National Congress is pre-programmed to win.

Filed in the bitter-sweet news-bin for the intellectual class and the international press
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Sindhudurg (Maharashtra), April 17 (IANS) A malfunctioning electronic voting machine (EVM) reportedly "transferred" all votes cast to the Congress candidate in Sindhudurg district here, in the second incident of its kind Thursday.
 

Jamia Hafsa (Lal Masjid) builds a new shrine

We all need heroes...even if they are imported from foreign shores. 
Also it is an incontrovertible fact that one man's terrorist is another (wo)man's freedom fighter. 

Finally when a legend is born, it is not possible to kill it by getting rid of a mere man, that golden voice will continue to speak (and command) from beyond the grave and it will be resounding deep in our (faithful) hearts.


Jamia Hafsa, a religious school for women in the Pakistani capital Islamabad connected to the notorious Lal Masjid has renamed its library in honour of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"Dad, don't worry. I've got a life vest on..."

Even though it is really morbid, we have to admit that we laughed at that one. The fibs that our children tell us, in this case so that poor dad does not get to know how terrified his daughter actually is, texting while drowning in a dark boat, with chaos all around and the bitter cold ocean pulling her down.  

Of course the subterfuge is of no use, we (as parents) would already be dead with worry and frozen with fear... and we would know that the kids are lying...and we will be forever grateful for those last words (texts).

The night-flares lighting up the sinking ship will remain one of the most beautiful/sad scenes that we will experience (even if vicariously) over our lifetime.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

17/7 Rajputs for 24/7 defense (against China)

The 17/7 Rajput regiment is in charge of guarding the North-Eastern (India) borders aka "undisclosed high-altitude location under Eastern Command"

Most of us are not really familiar with the (Indian) military and its ways. For example, is a Rajput regiment composed of only Rajputs (khatris)? Look deep and ye shall find. 

The "barhe chalo" regiment was raised during the WWII by Field Marshall Cariappa and fought in the North-Eastern Frontier (Kohima, Nagaland on the Indo-Burma border) against the mighty battalions of the Japanese Imperial Army. They will now be prepared to defend the north-east frontier once more, this time against the mighty battalions of the People's Liberation Army.
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"Among all battalions of the Rajput Regiment, 17 Rajput has a unique place in present day history of the Indian Army. It was raised during the period of Quit India Movement in 1942. It was also among 10 other Rajput Battalions that were raised following outbreak of World War-II from 1940 to 1943."

283 children lost at sea (South Korea)

Updated missing count: 287. This is horrible!!! SoKo is (almost) a developed country. Disasters of this magnitude are expected only when Rohingyas escape on leaky katamarans to Malaysia.

It is an unimaginable loss for the parents whose children were out on a pleasure trip. Hopefully more people will be rescued, however chances are much reduced after a few hours (water temp is only 12C).
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A ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving more than 280 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.

The high number of people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making it one of South Korea's biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292 people died.


The decline and fall of Islamic science

More accurately, science as practiced by people who happened to be muslims. The conventional wisdom that (conservative elements in) Islam was the sole cause for arresting the march of science in the Middle East may not be quite true .

....though religious extremism certainly was the reason why Abdus Salam had to leave his native land for good and whose glorious contributions to science will forever be disowned by his own (majority) countrymen.
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According to Thomson Reuters' Science Watch, the Arabian, Persian and Turkish Middle East produces only 4% of the world's scientific literature. Paltry by almost any standards, that value is even more diminutive when paired with the fact that the Middle East, at one time, led the world in science.

So what happened?


(slow) Train to Ernakulam

We are familiar with strange truth (stranger than fiction). Here is an example of plain scary truth (not as scary as flying by Malaysian Airlines, but still....)


Above we have the map of (Indian Railways) South-Western Zone. The original route was along the west coast (Konkan Railway shown in green). Instead the train got diverted to Pune (top left corner in yellow zone). At that point it should have moved directly south to Miraj and from thereon turn west to reach Goa. Instead it traveled south-east (right-wards in the map) to Solapur and then on to Gulbarga, a few hundred km on the wrong track.

Not a single official noticed (the passengers eventually did). BTW Udupi is a town on the west coast near Mangalore.


Atheists please STOP (beating your wives)

....and murdering homeless people. We understand that your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak. Please try a bit harder to become a model (moral) minority. Thanking you, your fellow (concerned) citizens.

What do Americans think of atheists? They are tolerated but not celebrated. The latter would be difficult because most Americans consider atheists to be living an immoral life. And here is a shocker, even hard-core atheists would agree with this sentiment!!!! 
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Atheists have been speaking up more loudly in recent years, adding a fresh perspective to debates over meaning and morality. But in spite of this new visibility, the way Americans view non-believers remains extremely negative, according to a newly published study.

Participants in the first experiment—237 Americans—read a description of a man engaged in unambiguously immoral behavior. “Dax” was described as someone who harmed animals as a child, and then went on to kill a series of homeless people as an adult.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ugly duckling hopes to be a swan

Many many people question the value of democracy in a country like India filled with poor, illiterate, low information people. This thinking can be logically extended to the necessity of a popular ballot. After all the elections will consume of the order of $5 Bil. Why do it?

One answer to the above question is that it demonstrates at least one area where the Indian state does a gargantuan job reasonably well (also getting better with time with further scope for improvement). Heavy-weight candidates lose elections by a 1000 votes and accept the result without comment. This is such a remarkable fact...that it is ignored for the most part. 

The Economist is inspired by the election process (if not the headline candidates) and inspects the functional parts of the Indian state and considers how to improve the non-functional parts. Excellent advice for the most part.

One thing that did not merit a few bytes is the importance of (appearance of) non-partiality. The reason the Election Commission is so widely respected because it calls out ALL the bandits in equal measure. Thus both Azam Khan (muslims won Kargil war) and Amit Shah (hindus should consider taking revenge) have attracted the maximum penalty. In a country like India it is essential that the government is fair and seen to be fair. Nothing else will do.


Vijay-anna ki Pulitzer vijay

Congratulations are in order for (one more) distinguished Tam-B. We fully expect that dear Anna (elder brother in Tamil) will be enjoying a long, productive life and reaching even higher levels of glory (Nobel?). 

Why not question him on his views of the impact of Indian elections at home and abroad, and how it is creating cracks in the house of creators, to the point where a publishing house which owes its living to the First Amendment will black-list its own star author for the crime of holding politically incorrect opinions.

We discovered a 2005 link from Sepia Mutiny (which died 2 years ago this April) and a separate link from Amardeep Singh (one of  the mutineers). VS is referred to as a 2nd gen (1.9 gen) gent because he migrated to the USA at an early age.


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Bangalore-born Vijay Seshadri, who moved to America at the age of five in 1959, has won the 2014 Pulitzer prize for poetry for his collection of poems 3 Sections (Graywolf Press), which was described by the jury as "a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless."

Coastal Leader for a prosperous India

So far Indian leaders have been almost always from up north (as far north as Kashmir), far away from the coast and with little understanding of coastal people and their lives (and livelihoods). Even PV Narasimha Rao was a Brahmin from Karimnagar, Telengana, which does not have a coastal (read: trader) ethos.

Joe D'Cruz is by some estimates, the greatest Shudra author in modern times and he is on-record with his heart-felt love (scroll to the bottom) for the tallest Shudra Leader today: Shri Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi-ji. As a Coastal Leader first and foremost, Joe is sure that NaMo will wield his magic wand and restore the reputation and fortunes of Coastal India. And all of India will benefit from this rising tide.

In the old days famous poets used to sing the praise of mighty kings - prashasti in Sanskrit- which would be inscribed on rock-tablets for posterity. In 21c. we are (unfortunately) lacking in omnipotent men as well as master poets. Now at long last, the wait is over. Look on these glorious words below, ye BPites....and you will be filled with either despair or delight.

The liberals are (naturally) outraged and have declared Joe to be an out-caste (untouchable).



Monday, April 14, 2014

Heart-bleed cyclone devastates Mums (and babies)

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Avoid the Internet if you can. Keep changing your passwords on a daily basis. Be prepared for the worst.
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British parenting website Mumsnet is the latest organization to have been hacked due to the "Heartbleed" bug, founder Justine Roberts revealed on Monday.