Proposal for a Hydrogen Engery Grid

Scientific American has a wonderful article about a potential future technology for clean and efficient energy distribution.


Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, one of the most respected and admired investors and the second wealthiest person on the planet is in the process of transferring 85% of his ~ $44 billion to charity. One of the charities is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Observe the modesty of Buffett through his home.

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The Politics of Food Burning

I posted before about the corn to ethanol question. This week the NY Times has an article focusing on the effect this trend is having on the Midwest. For all its strengths, the article does its readers a disservice in not properly structuring the issue within the framework of the overall social need to do away with inefficient farm subsidies.

Robert X. Cringely

Robert X. Cringely writes the weekly column, 'I Cringely' (RSS) and produces the weekly podcasted television interview programme 'Nerd TV.' Cringely, a technology expert, has friends in high levels at major firms who provide him with insider information.

This week Cringely proposes that Asymmetric Internet will create more troubles for itself than ISPs anticipated with their tiering schemes owing to necessarily encrypted BitTorrent traffic. One thing is clear: the Net Neutrality issue is a very complicated one which the US Congress is unqualified to legislate for the public good.


Agricultural Subsidies

Ahead of the next round of WTO trade negotiation in Genève, Suisse next week, the OECD released a report on the total amount of subsidy given to agricultural subsidies by all OECD member nations. €225 billion. The distortion created by these subsidies significantly harms farmers in undeveloped nations for whom agriculture is a comparative advantage and poverty is normal. WSJ outlook.

L'Expérience française

I would like to recommend to non-native French speakers the BBC 2 series, 'The French Experience.' There are English subtitles and it is more a lifestyle and cultural education than 'French in Action.' A lack of knowledge of the language is not an issue. The episodes are only 15m so they are ideal for watching while eating breakfast for example.


Richard Dawkins

As an Evolution follow up, Oxford University's Charles Simonyi Chair Prof. Richard Dawkins articulately explains the modern theory of Evolution, and has made considerable effort in addressing the Creationist threat to society. Dawkins, an atheist, is in fact particularly scathing of Religion in general, comparing it to a virus. For me, this goes too far. Nonetheless, I believe he is someone well worthy of attention.


The "Theory of Evolution" describes for all intents and purposes a scientific certainty as nearly as one exists. Charles Darwin through persistence and brilliance elucidated undeniably and nearly completely the existential mysteries of sex, competition, the variety and complexity of life on Earth and in turn our own ancestral origins.

The "Theory of Intelligent Design" is simply not science, and is designed as a means to confuse and manipulate ignorant, weak-minded individuals from understanding the truth of their origins and that of all complex life. It is quite sad that in the 21st century, Scientific Authorities waste their valuable time responding to such nonsense. They are compelled as a reaction to the moves by rulers and politicians in many countries to teach or promote the so called "Intelligent Design" theory. Not surprisingly, the infamous George Walker Bush promotes the teaching of I.D. in schools. Any political or educational leader is not deserving of authority who seeks to poison or befuddle the minds of the masses, particularly the young, with ignorant, fundamentalist dogma to the detriment of a proper understanding of firmly established scientific fact. Any religious doctrine contradicted by undeniable scientific evidence must be either revised or dismissed as mythology and tradition rather than lauded as fact. Furthermore, it is the moral responsibility of society's leaders to ensure basic science is taught to all and taught correctly.

The 7 part PBS series on Evolution does a good job of properly explaining Charles Darwin's elegant theory. Those like me, annoyed by the mere mention of I.D, should not watch the last part as it focuses on the backward Fundamentalist Creationist beliefs of large swathes of the US population.


Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Last Week, Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft or M$ for short. This has been lauded as an intelligent move to breathe new life into the ailing former monopoly. More importantly, it gives Bill Gates the time needed to spend the vast sums of wealth he has accumulated over the years. Despite the recent decline of Leviathan, Bill Gates has by all measures done an excellent job at doing what the vast majority of companies are designed to do: maximise profits for their shareholders. I have faith that Bill Gates will use his extraordinary talents to do more good with his life and his foundation than he caused setbacks with his Evil Empire.

On a related note, today I read this article describing the way Angelina Jolie is spending her time. Normally I would not even click on any link with her name, but today the spirit moved me. I was very pleased to read about the large sums she has given to charity and her attempts to use her celebrity to divert attention away from her lover and child to raising awareness about the plight of sub-Saharan Africans. The article also stresses the important point that the press corps of this World is completely inept and self-serving. Most developed countries allow in their constitutions protections for the press. However, a press that cares more about one actress' healthy baby more that the plagues of disease, poverty, and internecine conflict affecting hundreds of millions of people deserves no such fundamental legal protection for they only serve to further impoverish society.

Language Series - Russian Language and People

This 20 part series produced by the BBC durring the Soviet Era is worth watching.


Better Living through Chemistry

The Washington Post is not quite the McDonald's of news reporting (i.e. USA Today), but is more like the IHOP. Poorly written and investigated though it may be, this article investigates the use of prescription mental performance enhancing drugs on college campuses.

*Update* - This NYT article explores the dangers posed by the use of over the counter "Energy Drinks" especially among young athletes.

Destruction of the Middle Kingdom

Zhong Guo has expanded its economy "miraculously" owing to its utter lack of environmental protection. The developing stage of economic progress has always been the dirtiest e.g. 19th Century London. Nevertheless, the levels of pollution occurring now in China are globally unprecedented and are restraining China's progress. Moreover, China does not bear the full cost of the pollution it creates.


Net Neutrality II

Economist Tyler Cowen has a reasonable argument in favour of 'Net Neutrality.'

Lynne Kiesling points to a potentially better middle ground.


This BBC article could be sensationalistic reporting taken way out of context. I pray that flag officers in the US military who control $0.5 trillion to wage global warfare and martial occupation would not be so fanatic, inhuman, and ignorant as suggested by the quotes contained therein. Either way, maybe now that there has been a particularly shocking event of self-disciple, devotion, or desperation, Americans can "galvanise" and take the mass psychic action needed to stop the illegal and unethical mistreatment of military prisoners. I would not presume to dream at this stage for all out prison reform where needed. From what I understand, Scandinavia is the only place which treats prisoners humanely.

Regarding treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, besides the obvious physical and mental torture, prisoners are also force-fed. In a clear breach of medical ethics, doctors and nurses carry out these procedures as authorised by the military. Accusations have been made that unqualified soldiers are also performing the forced tube-feeding on hunger striking prisoners.

Economist Article


Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is an interesting topic. It has generated a great deal of furor recently as a grass-roots movement against lobbying by Internet companies trying to offer preferential treatment to certain content providers. Even Google supports net neutrality. The bundling of goods and services has been a standard business practice for as long as commerce has taken place. There is an argument for net neutrality for someone like me who realistically only has one choice for broadband service, i.e. DSL. However, broadband services are a competitive business. Cable, telephone DSL, power companies, fiber optic services, and wireless services are all part of the mix. If you as a customer cannot get the content you want fast enough from your provider, then you have the right to switch providers and use someone else who will give you the quality of service you demand. I have a feeling that ending net neutrality will actually drive competition, broadband penetration, and improve services overall. I have yet to hear a coherent economic argument which shows that net asymmetry necessarily reduces social welfare. Rather, I see net asymmetry as a potential driver behind the next generation of Internet services: HDTV over IP.

Net asymmetry is only a proposal at the moment. It could be a good thing. If a firm starts providing their customers unacceptable service, they will vote with their wallet. Customers will always have the ability to continue to pay for net neutral service where competitive ISP markets exist.

Software Recommendation: FileZilla

I am by no means an expert in the ftp protocol or ftp software. I used to use a cracked version of CuteFTP, but it is proprietary. FileZilla's name derives from the open source Mozilla Project, but I do not think it is directly associated. If you are not using Mozilla Firefox as your web browser, you probably should be - especially if you are still using M$ IE. Filezilla is free and open source. With a clean interface, it accomplishes everything the average user would want out of an ftp client. I have not used the server, but I believe it to be similarly useful.


Google Spreadsheets

Google Spreadsheets is still in the alpha phase so not particularly useful, but you can sign up for it and test it. It has not been advertised so I thought I would fill the gap.

*Update* - BBC article


Google Genetics

November 2005 Sunday Times article about Google's ambition to assist genetic research science. Google is well equipped to contribute to this information science.



Frontline has made a very good two parter about AIDS: part 1, part 2. Live Science today published this article which was my impetus for this post. Science Daily summarises an article quantifying the effectiveness of HIV medication: 'Three Million Years of Life Saved.'


The Power of Nightmares

I watched 'The Power of Nightmares,' a 3 part BBC series, in the fall of 2004 when the series was aired on the BBC. It should be aired widely throughout the Islamic World and USA. It has yet to be shown on US television. The first two parts aired in the U.K. just days before the atrocious reelection of G.W. Bush. Given the continued war crimes, erosion of civil liberties, manufacturing of public consent, and trampling of privacy that have occurred since then, these documentaries are as relevant now as they were then.

Despite never airing in the US, the series has been available in the US via BitTorrent since the original UK air dates. This highlights the importance of mass file distribution mechanisms. Had every person in the USA downloaded this series as soon as possible, the election would have turned out differently and the world would currently be far safer.

A must see for everyone.
BitTorrent Link
Google Video Links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3