Sunday, August 29, 2010

Random Ideas : How did the critter cross the road?

I have read in some places about the effect that a road has on a land it cuts across. Basically it splits the place in two. I'm talking from the small animals' perspective.
The survival of many species in particular areas depends on their ability to move across the territory. When a road cuts through a place, animals like squirrels, snakes, insects, etc are put into immense danger. In the article I read, it talked about how many snake species in the western ghats in India are being threatened because they get killed regularly by vehicles while crossing roads. Poor things can't even be seen by the incoming cars and trucks, and you can't really blame them for being so short that they can't see the fast incoming vehicles in time to dodge them.

Maybe making small drains / tunnels below the roads at various points could help. Just a simple pipe that's put across the road, before laying it on. And the ground around those places could be leveled in such a way as to channel the critters to the pipes. Such channels below the road are probably used at places for handling rainwater flowing downhill. But we probably need to enlarge them to accommodate the animals as well.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Electric Cars - the potential of source independence

This is an extension form my previous post about Idea for Selling Electric Cars

I got this idea while watching a youtube video of a test drive of the Nissan Leaf - a really hot up-and-coming electric car.

Premise : Source
Instead of focusing on what comes out, let's focus on what goes in. In a fuel-powered car, we're using a chemical energy source which is fixed - within a given range of parameters, there's only one type of fuel we can use. This creates source dependence. At any given time, even if you have an abundance of energy in other forms, you'll still need to go to a gas station to power this so-useful machine. That sucks!

What sets the electric vehicle apart:
The electric vehicle gives source independence. You can convert just about any source of energy into electricity and store it in the electric vehicle's batteries.
ANY source : Solar, wind, nuclear, thermal, hydro, chemical (fuel cell), and.. mechanical!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Story of the Roma : BBC News - Sarkozy vows to continue expulsions of Roma from France

The story of the Roma, in 11 short points:

1. The French government have taken a decision to get rid of the Roma. Nobody really knows why, they just want to.

2. Their argument is that the Roma are harmful, lawless and dangerous, detrimental to the proper functioning of the state. They've cited a few one-off incidents and pronounced all the Roma guilty.

3. We know the Roma are not harmful or lawless. A few one-off incidents and circumstances cannot be used to pass judgement like this, besides, a little closer investigation into the actual facts shows a different reality than that being portrayed by the government. There is clearly no intent among the Roma to cause any harm or harassment to the French State or its people.

4. The Roma are just a bit different from the mainstream population. They are gypsies - nomadic; they don't own property and live a down-to-earth lifestyle and their way of life gives them have a slight repulsion to authority and conformity. This aspect may have made them different from the regular French citizens.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Story : The King and the Well

Scene 1: Prologue:
Once upon a time, in  land far, far away, there was a princely state having a beautiful capital town which was very prosperous and had a generous King.
This state and its neighbors would hold gatherings every four years, with the venues being rotated among the states. Now was our King's turn to plan. He wanted to showcase something great, something brilliant, to all the other states. So, he sent out an edict : On the chosen Day, the main well in the town (now dry and unused) was to be filled with milk!

All the milk sellers in the town were at first worried, because understandably how could one produce so much extra milk when they regularly didn't. But their fears were allayed when it was announced that they would all receive the necessary funding from the royal treasury for the same. It was a matter of national honor - no compromises were to be made.
Strangely enough, the town had got an extra dozen milk-sellers registered in the main market just days before the announcement, so there, everybody was happy. A well full of milk! Wow, that would Really psyche the visitors out! This town, and this state were on the path to become legendary!

Scene 2 : 6 months to the Day:
It seems the treasury was indeed very generous - to facilitate all the world-class requirements of the milk suppliers, no expense was spared; on the contrary more were regularly added to the whole, in bits and pieces, that is! Right from imported grass to special medicines for the cows to the latest preservatives and refrigeration technologies- everything had to be world-class! It was a matter of honor! Some people did point out that the combined budget was going over 10 times the initially planned one, but it was all taken in good spirit.

Scene 3 : 1 month to the Day:
Everyone was now gung-ho about it! The checking commission decided to inspect the well. They were all expecting a treat. What they got was a shock.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Should a person who exposed the truth, get prosecuted?

Lots of stuff going on on the international scene regarding Wikileaks and its sensational disclosure of confidential US army data, that blew the lid off some very questionable acts committed in Afghanistan.

Rather than looking into the matter of actually prosecuting the people behind the atrocities, there is a debate ranging on whether Wikileaks and its founder/spokesperson, Julian Assange, should actually be prosecuted! The Pentagon is said to be seriously looking into how best to get him incarcerated or worse, killed.

My opinion:
If a law, when interpreted in a certain way, allows you to commit a crime, then it is the law or its interpretation that is wrong. Either an exception must be made in its application in exceptional circumstances, or the law in its present form, must be struck down to be replaced by a better one.

But following a law despite knowing that doing so violates a bunch of preceding laws and also defeats the main purpose for which the law was created - to protect the country and its citizens - would be more illegal than the original act.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship : Why the government is best when not interfering

This is my addition to a brilliant post about social entrepreneurship in India on:

The part at the end about the Indian Government helping by not doing anything to stop - is actually very good news.
To expect governments to take care of each and every aspect of society is to put the powers of a God in the hands of fallible humans. We know how that venture has ended. The profit-centered capitalist system then went on to put those powers into private individuals' hands, and even that model seems to be collapsing.

The best bet, in my opinion, is to allow the people to help themselves.
I have observed that we have big heartless profiteering that harms the BOP - Bottom of the Pyramid, only in places where there is some or the other regulation, licenses, rebates, sops or other such artificial barriers or stimuluses. However noble the intentions may be, the top-down model seems to screw up something or the other everywhere.

Maybe not taking sides, maybe letting go and giving true freedom - Swarajya - is what we need to do.
I can see social entrepreneurship expanding into evermore sectors in the coming years. Hope I can be part of this wave as well.

Related stuff: - American constitutionalist Ron Paul explaining the easy pitfalls of pretending that government should be taking care of this and that part of day to day life, and clearly, factually, explaining why minimal government is the best bet. -  My speech titled "Let Go" (now I'm just bragging!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Parody : Bomb Iraq

[This was in the 'letters to the editor' section in Arab News, back in 2003 when the Iraq invsion was just beginning. Back then I'd found it hilarious and noted it down - and even now, after all this time, it's got a truism to it that's hard to dismiss!
Sung to the tune of "If You're Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands"]

If we cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets hurt your Mama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are Saudi
And the bank takes back your Audi
And the TV shows are bawdy,
Bomb Iraq.

If the corporate scandals growin', bomb Iraq.
And your ties to them are showin', bomb Iraq..

Poem : Give Peace a Chance

Blast from the past! Just came across this poem I'd submitted for our yearly magazine when in Final year of engineering!

Give Peace a Chance
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” - George Santayana

Let's make clear everyone realizes the price we pay for war
The way humanity takes a back seat as tempers soar
The way we forget what's really important in this life
It's the love of loved ones, not a land in strife.

There are more bullets today than the world’s population
Yet for a fraction of the cost we could rid it of malnutrition
We’ve made nukes as a deterrent to wars
But yet our defense budget soars.

While we spend billions guarding our so-called borders
The people, stuffed with xenophobia, are dying from inside
What we need is more friendship, openness and respect
Not ‘enemies’ getting fried.

You say we’ll beat terror with the force of bullets
But tell me, when was the last time you fought fire with fire?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Featured Software : Opera Unite

Last night I shared 200+ MBs of pics with a friend without having to upload / email anything. I just enabled the File Sharing in my Opera browser, set my folder and my friend was able to copy over everything directly!

Direct computer to computer file sharing, no restrictions or limitations, and the other person can use any web browser - you don't have to have Opera installed!
For my web browsing experience I still prefer Firefox, but this new feature of Opera  - Opera Unite - has got me floored. They've brought the true power of the internet to the end user : It's not just file sharing; I can host photo sharing, chat rooms, games, ....

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