Sunday, December 25, 2011

Addiction Vs Entrepreneurship

I found this quote on FB:
To feel superior to a self-destructive drug addict is the same as feeling superior to an entrepreneur whose enterprise has failed and burdened him with debt. They were both people who wished to experiment with new things. And some experiments fail. That's all there is to it. It doesn't give you the right to look down on them. They are no less human than you are.
Totally agree with the core message: We must treat everyone as humans. But, I think it was patronizing a little too much with the addict. Basically it reminded me about how people keep justifying addictions by saying things like "try something new once in a while" or "you should be open to experimentation!" and similar stuff. And that makes this a dangerous analogy, as it has one very critical flaw yet on the surface looks true and may even encourage people to enter into addiction in the spirit of freedom, experimentation and entrepreneurship. Indeed, it has. So, I commented to explain why the two are not similar...

There might be one slight devil in the details. The entrepreneur tried to do something that had NEVER been done before by anyone - for that is what entrepreneurship is. If there were already so many cases floating around of that exact same thing having been tried by others only to result in disastrous consequences, then that means our entrepreneur never learned from the world around him.

In which case he deserves to have failed and get indebted - you can't repeat a business idea as-is that's already been proven bad, it's stupid.

The drug-addict is REPEATING the exact same thing which 1000s of others before him have tried. It's not like he's pinching the needle in from a different angle so that's a novel concept. He's repeating someone else's experiment and he knows what the results are going to be. So if the bad entrepreneur deserved what he got, then what about the drug addict? Stupid is as stupid does :P

I guess it all hinges on what we define as "new" - new to just the person in question, or new to everyone?

--So, my message: Kids, don't fall for the lure of trying out these things in the spirit of doing something new. It is NOT something new. You're only copying 1000s of other people. By taking a whiff of a cigarette, a peg of alcohol or a snort or needle of a drug, you ain't doin' anything new, man. You're just being as stupid as the other idiots. You're copying an idiot's experiment! Are you really that boring?! If you want to do something NEW, something FRESH, do what a real Entrepreneur does - try something that has never been tried before by anyone around you.

Addiction = boring and old; not new. Be cool. Try something really new. Peace!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

cross-post: "you should date an illiterate girl"

Can't help but cross-post this article - it sums up perfectly the chasm between "dream girl" and "dream woman" - it sums up perfectly what I can't stand about my fellow men and women - it sums up perfectly what I wish more women would be like if only this world would let them!

You Should Date An Illiterate Girl

Jan. 19, 2011
Charles Warnke is a 21 year-old writer based out of Berkeley, California.
Date a girl who doesn't read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you've seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.
Let the anxious contract you've unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn't fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.
Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you've never been happier. If she doesn't, smile all the same.
Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn't read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.
PAGE 2 (where the revelation hits!)
Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.
Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.
Date a girl who doesn't read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.
Don't date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.

A 12V DC home

Since my days in electrical engineering, this question has been bothering me: Most of the devices at our home that need electricity, need low-voltage DC power, not 230Volts AC.

The ones that do, are either run on AC just because DC isn't readily available (ceiling fans, washing machines, vacuum cleaners)..

..Or can now be succeeded by next-gen devices with far better performance and lower power consumption (CRT Vs. LCD displays, fluorescent tubelights Vs oLEDs)...

..And the rest are simple resistive circuits that run on both - including the traditional light bulbs, water heaters, kettles, toasters.

In fact, I'd say the only real uses of high voltage grid AC power supply are industrial ones where 3-phase synchronous motors and the like are needed. Homes and shops and offices : why bother?

The appliances we use at home usually have most of their weight in a hefty step-down transformer sitting inside the casing that converts the supplied power into a much safer 12 Volts, which is then converted into DC by AC-DC converter circuits. Crack open a computer's SMPS or a kitchen mixer or a TV and you'll find one inside. Laptop charger cords and mobile charger cords now have lighter electronic converters (albeit with a much shorter lifespan)
But now, a neighborhood biogas plant, a local wind turbine, a fuel cell, a solar panel can directly supply that low-voltage DC power! But unfortunately the electrical appliance industry today designs all products in a way that we need 230V AC (In India - in some other countries there is 110V also which is quite stupid as plugging into the wrong socket causes several faults, malfunctions and fires).

It's just so ridiculous, seeing that the AC-DC conversion results in inefficiency and power wastage! (and you can feel that in your power adapter heating up). If you wanted to switch to an off-grid electric supply today, you'd have to contend with this mind-boggling multi-step wastage:
1. Take the renewable-generated power and store it in a battery - WASTE POWER but unavoidable unless you're using fuel cells or your biogas turbine runs 24/7
2. Convert the electric power from LV DC to HV AC using an inverter - WASTE POWER
3. At the appliance end, convert the HV AC back to LV DC - WASTE POWER.

No wonder the entire grid power industry keeps gloating that getting off the grid is impractical - the present system we've been using since some decades makes it impractical for no fault of the poor little wind turbine or solar panel! And here we're not even looking at the issues of the actual things that are generating the power - it's purely the conventional systems at the user end that's wasting half the power away!

If the designers and the industry had had the foresight and had included an alternate DC supply socket in every electrical appliance that actually uses DC on the inside, then every home could have readily switched to off-grid renewable energy. Instead, the few expensive examples we see today, probably waste half of the renewable energy put in.

But the industry has locked us in.

So now I'm foreseeing a major demand cropping up for an industry in parallel with the rise of local renewable power replacing the grid : an industry that will re-wire and retrofit all existing electrical appliances to include a DC power socket. In most cases this will be as simple as drilling a hole in the casing and fitting a socket that will skip the transformer/converter sections and hook up directly with the device. Some rudimentary over-voltage and polarity protection will also be in order - but at the low voltages like 12V, it's easily doable. It's very simple, but essential for the concept of off-grid homes to turn to reality.

An offshoot of this: Say goodbye to the eternal safety hazard of the electric socket and switch. A person or child accidentally touching both terminals of a 12V DC outlet will NOT suffer intense burns; a short-circuit at this low level of voltage will be cut out by the protection system long before there can be any fire hazard (unlike 230V AC where the spark can burn someone or set things on fire and only AFTER the spark does the protection fuse kick in). The main fusebox, etc will longer be a very very dangerous place in the house. This "side-effect" of converting a home from AC to DC can be marketed as a major safety enhancement for the family.

Of course, it doesn't have to be this or that - we can have a transition model having both LV-DC and AC sockets available. Several homes in areas of frequent power cuts employ an inverter system anyway which kicks in when the power is out, replicates the 230V AC supply from the battery storage and powers most of the house sockets. In fact, these houses are great potential off-grid converts as you simply have to hook up the renewable power source with the existing battery and extend circuits from there to give DC power outlets to the whole house.

A house with DC sockets and appliances running directly off it - hoping I get to see this idea converted into reality some day!

14 Feb 2013 Edit: This entrepreneur, Gunter Pauli, is DOING IT! Check out his video/audio talk from this article: at 51:00 mins!

Friday, December 16, 2011

HOW TO deploy Wikipedia for Schools offline encylopedia on school computers

Bridge the internet divide; spread the light of knowledge to school computers the same way you share movies and songs with your friends: with Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and a few clicks!

Thanks to Jessie and Emmanuel for their support and faith; it's an honor to be collaborating with you on this project!

Nikhil Sheth,
Teach for India Fellow, 2011-13
Grade 3 teacher, Shantabai Ladkat School, Nanapeth, Pune

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The junior's turn

A bus loaded with passengers and a collection of senior and junior drivers is speeding towards a cliff. The senior drivers are all roundly criticized for having driven them in that direction, for never having learned to turn the wheel or use the brakes, and for having ignored earlier pleas of the more tech-savvy passengers who'd looked up their GPS and figured things out before they did. But now that the cliff is finally visible, all the passengers want the bus to halt, turn around and get back to safety.

However, the junior drivers are now at the wheel and they say it's their turn to push the accelerator; and they haven't been taught by the seniors to do anything else. They're only focused on "their turn", are pushing the accelerator more than ever before, and are oblivious to the fact that the whole bus is going to plunge over unless they stop mindlessly mimicking their seniors' past actions. They're also busy blaming the senior drivers along with everyone else, but don't want to make any changes on their part.

The junior drivers are the government-industrial complexes of India and China and some more developing nations. The senior drivers are pretty much irrelevant by now. The bus is our planet. The rest you extrapolate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gift Economy

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