Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Quiet Ride

It seemed came from a horror novel crafted master writer like Stephen King. The sheer violence, fear and coldness in this bizarre news story published in The Globe and Mail show how reality sometimes can be more crude and raw than the pages of genre fiction. Here is the link: A Quiet Ride - Then Carnage

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Computer Geeks can Save the Planet

"Robocars are essentially a computer project. There's lots of cool automotive engineering to be done, but the real wizardry will come from hardware and even moreso from software.

The hardware needed includes cheap, powerful sensors, faster processors and specialized hardware for machine vision and pattern recognition. The software needs to drive all that, and combine machine vision, awareness and navigation with many other factors to produce the solution.

It's an Artificial Intelligence (AI) problem, but it's what is sometimes called a "weak AI" problem. It doesn't need a self-aware human equivalent being. It needs the more basic tools we're already getting good at. It's the sort of problem skilled computer wizards were born to solve."

Link to full article: Click here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Darwin's Legacy -- Interview Clip of Richard Dawkins

Here is a clip from Al Jazeera.


Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB4BWPeyMpQ

Richard Dawkins talks about evolution, spirituality, Darwin's theory, answered a few skeptics' questions regarding "point of origin", Adam and monkey, relation (or no relation) between Darwinism and 2nd world war. He tackled questions like "Can evolution and religion coexist?" Richard Dawkins repudiates creationism and Intelligent Design, a "total non starter as explanation". How will we end up millions years down the road? Asked the interviewer. Dawkins answered, "whole lot different species, which will be doing pretty much the same thing as present species are, but all will be different,............a different settings, what you can't predict, similar range of species, doing similar range of things, you can't predict in detail what one species will be doing............."

Richard Dawkin's interview is interesting and stimulating.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Chosen One - a Poem by Tom Sleigh

This poem is about God and dog. A man's angst, anger, frustrations and depressions in the moment of his approaching death are sprinkled deftly in this free flowing poem written by Tom Sleigh for Ploughshares. Here is the link: The Chosen One

The Chosen One
by Tom Sleigh

The embarrassment of wanting to pray to God,
the demand that God give a good Goddamn


had made him pretty nutty by the end; a lifelong Marxist,
he took up with Ouspensky, then spent all his money


(and he had tons, all those years in the bank
when Das Kapital and the Wall Street Journal


vied for subway reading time) on learning Gurdjieff
Sufi dances, spinning round and round in an ecstasy


of sweating, chanting, his happiness making him
call you on the phone to tell you in a way that made you


wince that he loved you for your holiness, regardless
of your failings that he would then go on to list


at death, most pissed at us, his useless fucking friends,
hangdog, silent under his scorn, withstanding his tongue-lashings,


then withdrawing to email, messages left on his machine.
And through it all, only his little dog, a white terrier


named Constanza, escaped his vitriol, his mortified, lacerating,
self-annihilating rages set off, so he said, by God’s hatred,


God’s malice, God’s need to get his hooks in you
and twist you and turn you until His bullying was satisfied.


And while he was saying this, his hand would drift down
past the bedrails and immediately she was there,


licking his fingers, looking up with complete canine
accommodation, the reassuring tail wagging undismayed


by the smell beginning to come off him. It was as if God
put the dog in the room to uncover his friends as paltry


Job’s comforters, in an accursed experiment to show
how isolated death can make a man, so that only


a dumb creature could be avid in its love, rising up
as we fell down in the scale of his affections;


coming out of her dogginess to meet him coming out
of his God cursed pain: her tongue slathered


and slurped his pungently acrid,
irresistible salts, the soon to be carrion salts


that gave to him such flavor—he, her chosen one,
his skin and smell enveloping her in lusciously novel


stinks and savors, as if only now was he the chrism, the oil
her dog-hearted devotions had so long thirsted for.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Archaea -- The Undead

Their usage of energy is so little that they may be called as "undead" rather than living organism. This is an exciting time for biologists as "Our whole concept of microbial evolution is up for grabs," Lake said. "People are realizing there is lots of exchange and gene transfers between organisms, and I think the whole area is about to explode."

Here is an interesting excerpt: "Subseafloor microbes are genetically distinct from life on Earth's surface and oceans. The Archaea the Penn State researchers found might look like bacteria, but they don't eat or work like them. While E. coli might double its numbers in 30 minutes, Archaea could take hundreds or even thousands of years to accomplish the same amount of growth."

Article Link: Barely Alive, Seafloor Microbes Might Resemble Exo-Organisms

Summer Evening by the Window with Psalms

Read this beautifully crafted poem by a great poet of our world, Yehuda Amichai. I got introduced to his melancholic poetry of truth and metaphors about five years ago. A poet and his poetry transcend man made artificial national boundaries. Poetry is indeed universal.

Here is the link to New Yorker where this recently translated poem was published: Link


Summer Evening by the Window with Psalms

By Yehuda Amichai

Close scrutiny of the past.

How my soul yearns within me like those souls

in the nineteenth century before the great wars,

like curtains that want to pull free

of the open window and fly.

We console ourselves with short breaths,

as, after running, we always recover.

We want to reach death hale and hearty,

like a murderer sentenced to death,

wounded when he was caught,

whose judges want him to heal before

he’s brought to the gallows.


I think, how many still waters

can yield a single night of stillness

and how many green pastures, wide as deserts,

can yield the quiet of a single hour

and how many valleys of the shadow of death do we need

to be a compassionate shade in the unrelenting sun.

I look out the window: a hundred and fifty

psalms pass through the twilight,

a hundred and fifty psalms, great and small.

What a grand and glorious and transient fleet!

I say: the window is God

And the door is his prophet.

(Translated, from the Hebrew, by Robert Alter.)

Adding Lime to Seawater may Reverse Global Warming

This process does need "careful consideration" as it has the potential of reversing global warming. Here is an extract: "The process of making lime generates CO2, but adding the lime to seawater absorbs almost twice as much CO2. The overall process is therefore 'carbon negative'. 'This process has the potential to reverse the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. It would be possible to reduce CO2 to pre-industrial levels...'"

Article Link: A Dash of Lime

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sit-Ups

Improper sit-ups technique can cause more harm than good. Here is a demonstration video link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygmgGqzsSiU

Can World's Strongest Dad

An inspiring video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4B-r8KJhlE

Democracy: The lessons of history

Despite their many shortcomings, those ancient Athenians and Florentines still can illuminate democracy's more aesthetic values. Miles J. Unger writes in his Boston Globe article: "While it is unrealistic in a nation of more than a quarter billion people to revive the direct street-corner democracy of ancient Athens or Renaissance Florence, we could learn valuable lessons from our predecessors. True democracy requires a level of engagement long missing from our political system. It demands that we be citizens, not merely voters."

Link to article: Democracy: The lessons of history

A Fairy Pic


Don't know how to interpret it, but it is certainly comical seeing the "fairy" the President trying to "catch". Here it is: http://afrojacks.com/images/bush%20fairy.gif

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

MiniBookExpo

I found out about MiniBookExpo from blog BoingBoing a couple of days ago. Noble idea. If you are a bloogger and love to read books, this is a site to visit frequently. The rule is simple it seems. No shipping cost for the readers which is covered by book publishers, and one can claim two books. After receiving the claimed books, within one month a review for each book has to be published in a blog or if one doesn't have a blog, review can be sent to MiniBookExpo's publisher. When two reviews are published, two more books can be claimed following the same pattern. For many readers this is going to be a hit I believe. Here is the link: http://www.minibookexpo.com

Monday, July 07, 2008

Seymour M. Hersh's article in The New Yorker

Haven't seen much discussion about this article by Seymour M. Hersh. Is it the similar preamble just before 2003 when Iraq war had started? Is another disaster for another nation in the same volatile region waiting to be unfolded just around the corner, perhaps for the convenient expediency of political trumpets? War profiteers design and implement wars after wars, and millions of people suffer the dooming consequences.

Link to the article:
Preparing the Battlefield

Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal

Hundreds of tons of waste still languish inside a tin-roofed warehouse in a corner of the old grounds of the Union Carbide pesticide factory here, nearly a quarter-century after a poison gas leak killed thousands and turned this ancient city into a notorious symbol of industrial disaster.

The toxic remains have yet to be carted away. No one has examined to what extent, over more than two decades, they have seeped into the soil and water, except in desultory checks by a state environmental agency, which turned up pesticide residues in the neighborhood wells far exceeding permissible levels.

Nor has anyone bothered to address the concerns of those who have drunk that water and tended kitchen gardens on this soil and who now present a wide range of ailments, including cleft palates and mental retardation, among their children as evidence of a second generation of Bhopal victims, though it is impossible to say with any certainty what is the source of the afflictions.

Why it has taken so long to deal with the disaster is an epic tale of the ineffectiveness and seeming apathy of India’s bureaucracy and of the government’s failure to make the factory owners do anything about the mess they left. But the question of who will pay for the cleanup of the 11-acre site has assumed new urgency in a country that today is increasingly keen to attract foreign investment.

Read the full article from following The New York Times link: Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal



Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Rare English Gandhi Recording from 1947

Hear this rare audio where Gandhi talked about peace, East and West and non-violence, recorded in April 2, 1947.

Gandhi Audio Link

An accompanied article in The Washington Post with this audio link analyzes Gandhi's belief and philosophy:

Gandhi's self-denial and tour of rural poverty was rooted in political philosophy. The central reason people turn to violence, Gandhi believed, was that they were afraid. Fear of others, fear of the unknown, fear of losing one's possessions and fortunes, fear of loss, fear of death -- these were the things that prompted people, groups and nations to seek physical protection, to seek arms and armies. Fear was the root cause of corruption and greed.

The way to destroy fear, Gandhi argued, was to give up the things that people held precious in the first place. When you have no possessions, you fear no thieves. So Gandhi gave up most of his possessions. He gave up emotional ties to family and friends. Sacrificing food, sleep and sex were only a way to show that the needs of his physical body -- and life itself -- could be held lightly.

In his everyday actions, it was clear he really did value his principles above his own life.

It is Gandhi's sincerity that gives his words in the April 1947 speech their power. Many leaders have been far more articulate. If Gandhi is compelling, it is because we know he is that rare person who actually means what he says.

"What I want you to understand -- if you can -- that the message of the East, the message of Asia, is not to be learned through European spectacles, through Western spectacles, not by imitating the tension of the West, the gunpowder of the West, the atom bomb of the West," Gandhi told his listeners.

"If you want to give a message again to the West, it must be a message of love; it must be a message of truth; there must be a conquest -- " Gandhi's words are cut off at this point by a rousing cheer.

Characteristically, Gandhi stops the applause: "Please, please, please," he says. "That will interfere with my speech and that will interfere with your understanding also. I want to capture your hearts, and don't want to receive your claps. Let your hearts clap in unison with what I am saying, and I think I shall have finished my work."

Article link:
Saving his Peace

Audio Link
Gandhi's Speech