Sunday, December 21, 2008

humility towards learning

The typical 'academic' way of saying that one does not have criticisms of a work is by acting pompously: "I have read it but I am not impressed". Many academics hate acknowledging that there is much they have not read or, if they have, that they have nothing to say on that. After all, your 'intelligence' is proved by the fact that you can demolish everything except your own pet theory; so, they say 'I am not impressed'. This remark works when one has a high-standing in the academic world; further, by making such a remark, one also suggests that one is so 'busy' doing 'serious scientific
research' that one cannot be bothered to spend time criticizing third-rate ideas. In none of the domains I work is Steve Farmer (or his work) either known or recognized. He is a non-entity in the domains of sociology, political theory, psychology, philosophy and Ethics, law, history... So, whether or not he is 'impressed' by my writings leaves me and my academic colleagues cold. My peers in the peer-reviewed scientific journals find our writings on secularism worth publishing. If Farmer has anything interesting to say, apart from not being 'impressed', he can do so in the pages of all these journals. So far, he has not; and, I predict, nor will he ever.

Farmer is playing such a game: showing that he is both a 'serious researcher' and a very 'intelligent' man by telling you that he is 'not impressed'. Do not expect academic courtesy in such games: it is played only by those pretentious people who are unable to contribute anything to scientific research but fancy themselves as either 'brilliant intellectuals' or even 'geniuses'.

Many Kannada intellectuals and UR play the indigenous version of the same game. Some are also prejudiced; a few others ignorant. Many would not understand our arguments because they lack the required background knowledge. In short, most Kannada intellectuals (including UR) are at a disadvantage when it comes to discussing with us. They cannot show humility towards learning the way a student can; these people are already 'established' and they make their living on the basis of the 'authority' they have been conferred with. To acknowledge that one is ignorant (of many things) or that one is wrong (about one's beliefs) requires that people who call themselves 'intellectuals' are also truly that: ready to learn at any moment and acknowledge mistakes, when they discover them.

Let me give you an example of one such true intellectual. Gottlob Frege is rightly considered as the father of modern formal logic. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he wrote a book called 'The Foundations of Arithmetic' (in German), which was an attempt to describe arithmetic as formal, logical system. The manuscript version of the book apparently circulated in Europe and just when Frege received the page-proofs of the book, he also received a letter from a young unknown (at that moment) British student. This student showed that there was a fundamental flaw in
Fregean system, which made Frege's two decades work a wasted effort. Frege nevertheless published his book but with a foreword. There he spoke of the above letter, explained the criticism of this student (it is called the 'barber paradox') and openly acknowledged that his work (of the previous two decades) was a waste. He published it nonetheless, more for historical reasons than for its cognitive relevance. That young and unknown student answered to the name of Bertrand Russell who, at a later stage, reacted to an unknown male nurse from Vienna (during the first world war) the way Frege had reacted to him. That nurse was Ludwig Wittegnstein, another great thinker of the twentieth century.

These are the kind of people we should aspire to become if we have to bear the title of an 'intellectual' proudly. 

TheHeathenInHisBlindness : Message: RE: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Re: cross posting

Friday, December 19, 2008

Global Imbalance - An imminent Dollar Crisis

From comments:

Venkatesh is definitely impassioned and speaks about interesting subjects, but his interpretations leave much to be desired both in depth of knowledge and analytical rigor. I would call him a demagogue, short on facts, and skewed in conclusions . Some of his predictions have already been proved wrong, eg US currency exchange rates, oil prices; and his analysis/prescriptions reveal a profound lack of insight, eg lack of US family formation as the cause of savings rate declines in the USA. There are indeed many troubling problems in the US, including the real estate bubble, productivity slowdowns due to education and technology problems, consumerism as the driving force for the economy, asset valuation failures in lending, a drain on US wealth to fund the Iraq war etc. Exports to the USA have been the driving force for the world economy for decades. This is the reason all countries work really hard to get “MFN” – most favored nation, so that their exports are allowed in to the usa with fewer restrictions. This creates jobs, wealth and infrastructure (and funds for research and new technology) in the exporting countries. Countries often finance a portion of their exports to create demand for their products, as most countries, (incl india and china) have done to fuel their industrialization. Stop US imports and consumerism, and the world economy will grind down. Consumerism as a economic model is definitely flawed and problematic, and causes downstream problems, see The only significance of the Venkatesh video is that some few people may possibly believe it to be true and accurate, and make decisions that will ultimately prove to be injurious to their economic well-being. Far the greater threat both to US and Indian (and global) well-being, is the base assumption that continued growth in consumption, production, population etc is possible or desirable in a very resource-constrained “closed system” like the planet earth (ie essentially no resources come in from space – except for sunlight/heat, and none go out), a small blue dot of life in a vast and unfriendly universe.

Global Imbalance - An imminent Dollar Crisis

Obama's Chief Speechwriter, 27, Works on Inaugural Address

They stumbled upon it by accident in 2004, when Obama, just elected to the Senate, needed to hire a speechwriter. He brought Favreau, then 23, into the Senate dining room for an interview on his first day in office. They talked for 30 minutes about harmless topics such as family and baseball before Obama turned serious.

They stumbled upon it by accident in 2004, when Obama, just elected to the Senate, needed to hire a speechwriter. He brought Favreau, then 23, into the Senate dining room for an interview on his first day in office. They talked for 30 minutes about harmless topics such as family and baseball before Obama turned serious.

"So," he said. "What's your theory on speechwriting?"

Awkward silence. Favreau, just graduated from Holy Cross, had talked his way onto  Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign in 2003 and had become a press assistant, arriving at the office at 3 a.m. to clip newspapers. The speech he had given as class valedictorian circulated around the staff, and Favreau eventually got a shot at speechwriting. He wrote well and rose to the top of the department, but there was never any time to formulate theories. Now, Favreau looked at Obama and went with his gut.

"A speech can broaden the circle of people who care about this stuff," Favreau said. "How do you say to the average person that's been hurting: 'I hear you. I'm there. Even though you've been so disappointed and cynical about politics in the past, and with good reason, we can move in the right direction. Just give me a chance.' "

"I think this is going to work," Obama said.

Obama's Chief Speechwriter, 27, Works on Inaugural Address While Making His Own Transition -

In the Name of the Father

Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his friend Paul Hill (John Lynch), fed up with life in IRA-era Belfast, move to London and join the hippie scene. They hook up with a bunch of spaced-out hippies squatting in a derelict flat. There they meet Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong. Hanging out in a London park after a fight with their flatmates, Hill and Conlon meet a homeless man named Charlie Burke in a park, who claims the bench they are sitting on belongs to him. While the two talk to Burke on the park bench, an explosion is heard. Later that night Conlon steals money from the apartment of a prostitute who drops her keys on the sidewalk outside her house. A fellow squatter, jealous of Conlon's advances to a female in the group, drops a hint to the police that Gerry and Paul, being Irish, may be involved in the bombing, and they are arrested.

Britain's newly-passed new anti-terror laws enable the police to hold suspects for 7 days without charge. During this time, Gerry and Paul are subjected to torture until they confess. The four principal defendants (Hill, Conlon, Armstrong and Richardson) are sentenced to 14-30 years in jail. From their prison cell, Gerry and his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite), who is sentenced along with him as part of the Maguire Seven, try to appeal. Giuseppe's health continues to worsen while in prison. In the meantime, the police arrest IRA member Joe McAndrew (Don Baker) who admits to the Guildford bombing. The police ignore his confession and the Guildford Four remain in prison.

In the Name of the Father (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wireless Power Consortium Pushes For Standard

Sure. Let's just use this other power adapter from something else. With a little extra force, see, it fits fine. OK, now just to plug it in...


Wife comes running in and sees the disaster and, being a good American, calls a lawyer.

This is why power adapters of different voltages, different capacities and different functionalities are designed with unique connectors. The intent is to keep you from causing problems for the company via lawsuits. Lawsuits caused directly by your ability to connect two mismatched devices together. Unless this risk can be eliminated, you are not going to get rid of every device having a different and unique connector.

Now it might be nice if there was an ISO standard for connectors (like there is for mains power connections) so there would be a few thousand "standard" connectors for every given voltage, regulation mode, current and AC or DC variety. This would solve everyone's problem, wouldn't it? Until you attempt to get everyone behind the idea of the few thousand "standard" connectors. That are all unique and different from today's non-standard connectors.

Wireless Power Consortium Pushes For Standard

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Department of Labor auditing all permanent labor certification applications

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that it has begun auditing all permanent labor certification applications filed by attorneys at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP. The department has information indicating that in at least some cases the firm improperly instructed clients who filed permanent labor certification applications to contact their attorney before hiring apparently qualified U.S. workers. The audits will determine which, if any, applications should be denied or placed into department-supervised recruitment because of improper attorney involvement in the consideration of U.S. worker applicants.

ETA News Release: U.S. Department of Labor auditing all permanent labor certification applications filed by major immigration law firm [06/02/2008]

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

working in US

For $48000 pay, $4000/month

  • Employer taxes 12.5% ==> 500

  • Withholdings from your paycheck - Total: $951
  • Federal Withholding - $506.17
  • Social Security - $248.00
  • Medicare - $58.00
  • New Jersey - $106.92
  • SUI/SDI - $37.00

  • Total money stolen by Govt per paycheck = $1441

Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Tasks

Take entering a new task: just click in an empty part of your list and start typing. No buttons to click and it's saved automatically. Hit Return and you've got a new task right there.

You can also easily convert emails into tasks: select one or more messages and go to More Actions > Add to Tasks. (Or turn on keyboard shortcuts and use <shift> + t.)

Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Tasks

Opportunities for Anticompetitive Behavior in Postal Services

In the United States, the delivery monopoly is over letter mail. The Private Express Statutes prohibit the private carriage of "letters or packets," and the Postal Service defines a letter as "a message directed to a specific person or address and recorded in or on a tangible object." The courts have accepted the Postal Service's broad test for a letter as, "the presence or absence of an address."

The USPS's definition of a letter, adopted by the Postal Service in 1974, differs from earlier definitions and is much more expansive. Indeed, the Post Office and then the Postal Service has consistently expanded the scope of its monopoly over a 200-year period. Such an expansive definition leads naturally to monopolization of materials not intuitively considered letters, such as bills and advertising matter, which constitute a substantial and increasing proportion of the mail stream. According to the Postal Service's definition, an addressed grocery store advertisement is a letter.

A substantial portion of USPS revenue comes from monopolized activities. In 2002, 57 percent of the Postal Service's revenues were from monopolized first-class mail, while almost 25 percent were from partially monopolized Standard Mail A (formerly third-class mail).

The monopoly is well enforced. The USPS can conduct searches and seizures if it suspects citizens of contravening its monopoly. For example, in 1993, armed postal inspectors entered the headquarters of Equifax Inc. in Atlanta. The postal inspectors demanded to know if all the mail sent by Equifax through Federal Express was indeed "extremely urgent," as mandated by the Postal Service's criteria for suspension of the Private Express Statutes. Equifax paid the Postal Service a fine of $30,000. The Postal Service reportedly collected $521,000 for similar fines from twenty-one mailers between 1991 and 1994.

AEI - Short Publications - Opportunities for Anticompetitive Behavior in Postal Services

US officially in recession

"Unfortunately, two-thirds of the American economy is based on the spending of the American consumer," said Mike Stanfield, chief executive of VSR Financial Services. "When the consumer pulls back, it's very hard for the economy to gain much traction."

US officially in recession, Dow falls sharply

Playboy to continue aggressive cost cuts

Playboy Enterprises Inc, publisher of one of the world's best known adult magazines, plans to continue "aggressive cost cutting" across the company in 2009 after cutting 14 percent of its workforce in 2008, according to Chief Financial Officer Linda Havard.

Playboy to continue aggressive cost cuts in 2009 | Entertainment | Industry | Reuters

Recession affects 'vice' too! Or.. is it just poor management?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sungevity Displays Sunshine Online at Web 2.0 Launch Pad

Sungevity is a shining example of a company that tackles a global problem with a Web 2.0 solution. In only 6 months since its launch, Sungevity has sold more than 100 solar installations and is now the fastest growing solar company in California. Already its environmental impact has been impressive -- Sungevity has saved its early customers over $2 million dollars in electricity bills and abated 2,700 tons of CO2 over the next 25 years.

Sungevity Displays Sunshine Online at Web 2.0 Launch Pad - MarketWatch

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Credit-card industry may cut $2 trillion lines

The U.S. credit-card industry may pull back well over $2 trillion of lines over the next 18 months due to risk aversion and regulatory changes, leading to sharp declines in consumer spending, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said.

The credit card is the second key source of consumer liquidity, the first being jobs, the Oppenheimer & Co analyst noted.

"In other words, we expect available consumer liquidity in the form of credit-card lines to decline by 45 percent."

Credit-card industry may cut $2 trillion lines: analyst - Yahoo! News

Monday, December 01, 2008

Saving Detroit

When I was a kid, there were many big name American television brands: Zeinith, Motorola, Magnavox, GE, RCA. Most simply quit making consumer electronics because they could make more money building stuff for the Pentagon. They took a hit when Japanese TVs first came to this country, but instead of buckling down and building better stuff, they simply left the market.

Our auto industry did the same thing. When VW first came over, Detroit got out of the small, cheap car market. When Toyota and Honda came over, they didn't care because they were only making small cars. As Toyota and Honda built bigger cars, Detroit concentrated on making even bigger cars.

Soon, foreign companies built cars from sub-compact to family sedans, and GM and Ford simply ignored those markets. Instead, they concentrated on the truck market and the SUV market.

Tell me one decent car made by the big three that can compete against a Toyota or Honda car? The Chevy Malibu? The Ford Taurus. Heck, does Ford make a Taurus still? I think they just came out with a new one last year after a decade of hiatus.

Look at fit and finish. For the past two decades, maybe longer, GM cars were berated because their dashboards were composed of cheap shiny plastic and had big gaps in them. So, is a Toyota dashboard made from exotic hardwoods, or somehow can Toyota take the same cheap plastic and make it look nicer? It isn't that Detroit can't make decent cars, they simply didn't because they'd rather not compete.

I also don't believe that the consumer truck market simply was a stroke of luck for Detroit. They actively created it. People wouldn't buy trucks if they didn't have 18 speaker Bose speaker stereos, automatic climate control, and leather seats. I use to drive a Ford trunk back in the 1970s, and I would never have bought one unless I really, really needed a pickup truck.

I am convinced that Detroit would have left the automobile industry long ago if they could take the safe haven of building vehicles just for the military -- just like almost all the other American industrial base did.

Maybe that's our problem. Our overly large military industry gave our companies a safe haven away from the tough world of consumer competition. After all, Japan and Germany have no real military to speak of. If you were a German or Japanese company, you had to build what the civilian population wanted to buy and not what your military would buy.

I, Cringely . Pulpit . Saving Detroit . Comments | PBS

Home Prices Snowball

Most amazing and most worrisome to me is the changing balance of equity and debt supporting the U.S. housing market. In 1998 the U.S. residential housing stock totaled $8 trillion supported by $2.5 trillion of debt, in other words, a 31% debt to value load.

Ten years later, our housing stock is $19.7 trillion (October 2008) supported by $10.6 trillion, or a 53% debt load. Debt load, or more like a giant margin call! And a margin call it is. This is what happens when the capital markets meet the real estate markets--it's payback time.

Home Prices Snowball -