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Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." — Neil Armstrong Signature of Aerospace engineer Neil Armstrong, the "giant leap" guy who helped keep the moon relevant and  famous for science.

Peter Singer: The Ethics of Food

In this persuasive lecture on ethics about modern diet and eating habits, Dr Peter Singer , the Utilitarian philosopher and professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, highlights and questions ethical issues concerning food involving animals, its corresponding cost to the ecology and considerations for animal rights that the humans have been, perhaps rather conveniently, avoiding to acknowledge. In his typical free-thinking, lets-face-it approach characterized by pragmatism rooted in down-to-earth reality, one can clearly bear witness to Prof Singer avoiding all possible temptations or invitations to indulging into any kind of rhetoric. Or so much as letting any sentimentalities enter into the frame of reasoning even while discussing gross cruelty to animals and the overall ecological impact it draws. The approach remains factual and clinical, and the presentation is driven by data in its most part. For philosophical indulgences around the issue, the Q&A section that follows

Humor: Scott Adams, The Hypnotist

This blog entry is a fan-post about choosing the three best blog entires that Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has posted over the month of March '12. Arguably, this is also a lazy task. Understandably, this will need some explaining. Scott Adams is a genius with hypnotic calibre. He can even prove it by producing a certain Certification in Hypnotism that hangs on his office wall, and about which we, the ardent followers of his humor blog at and elsewhere such as his occasional NYT and WSJ columns, have heard more often than perhaps the issuing authorities themselves. That a certain obscure yet timely reference or reminder of being a certified hypnotist can turn his otherwise benign looking paragraphs into mesmerizing wand of a wizard is something only a certified hypnotist can do (I agree that this logic defeats itself, but I never claimed that hypnotism has anything to do with logic. If you have read Scott as regularly as he writes you have already learned that

Kantian Ethics And Human Dignity

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” - Immanuel Kant (Categorical Imperative. try here ) In this rather short video clipped from the BBC documentary - "Justice: A Citizen's Guide to the 21st Century", Prof. Michael Sandle picks up an ethical dilema from a real-life kidnapping case that took place in Germany in 2002, and bounces it off to a Kantian activist and journalist, and to Peter Singer, the utilitarian Bioethics professor at Princeton University. A kidnapper of a eleven year old boy of a banker in Germany, after collecting the ransom, is caught by the authorities. When he refused to divulge the whereabouts of the boy, the police threatened him of extreme torture. The kidnapper gave into the threats and confessed to murdering the boy. The German authorities, after further investigation, sentenced the kidnapper with life sentence, while at the same time, the police chief was also prosec

Humor: Sheldon's Prayer

Theoretical Physicist Dr. Sheldon Cooper Sc.D. has hardly anything to do with this post except for an optimistic allusion toward his positive delight at throwing a monologos tantrum such as this in any of The Big Bang Theory episodes preferably not named as the same suggested title. You see, All metaphysics, of/for every sectarian-/semi-/secular-/pseudo-/anti-religion's theory seems to thrive on this evolutionary blindspot in the cognitive process; Hit by unreferenceable 'knowing'; And admixed with confused human imaginations.

Cheers to Life!

7th May, 2011 David Hume’s Tercentenary had been in good attendance. New York Times writes: Saturday [May 7th] is the 300th birthday of David Hume, the most important philosopher ever to write in English according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Hume's philosophy has inspired a significant branch of cognitive and analytics philosophers and thinkers over the last three centuries. His theory of "Problem of Induction" has stirred many debates. Most recently, it has been assumed by Nassim Taleb as one of the core concepts of his "Randomness". Many credit Sir Karl Popper’s comprehensive response to "Problem of Induction" as the penultimate insight into reality of the modern society. See also: Related posts: Cheers to Life! Go here for New Your Times article, and here for WP entry Go here for more philosophical musings at Cognition & Culture, and here for Times Higher Ed feature Recent podcasts: Go here for OpenUniversity, and he

SKR, Education, Three videos, and "3 idiots"

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THERE COMES AN IDEA THAT has at least three beautiful things together: holistic relevance, sincerity towards applicability, and honest and bold presentation. Such ideas carry an element for illumination and invokes belief in the audience. Let's listen to Sir Ken Robinson (SKR). The Professor of Education has thus far given two of the best and most popular TED talks (see below). His ideas on the challenges of modern Education systems across the world, and possible solutions through paradigm shift have been path-breaking (including, earning the professor his knighthood). When the idea is larger than life, it is often easy to miss the whole picture while focusing on the point if delivery of the idea, beautiful that it mostly is. For this reason, RSA Animation has done a great job in the video below in creating a sort of "skeleton key" based on SKR's RSA speech - Changing Education Paradigm. Within a couple of minutes into the animation, it is m

HBR: Most Popular Articles of 2010

AN EXCITING YEAR IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE. Coming full circle of seasons it is winter again while the haven freezes over and a friend messaged from Leh in north-western Himalayas, "Its -15.4° C (4.2° F) here. Expect snow typing." I am almost sure it was meant to read "slow typing". HBR on their part collectively published some 1000+ articles over the last 365 days. Recently, one of the editors listed the top 10 most popular articles among them (try  here ). Listed below are the five articles that I liked most. 1. Why I Returned My iPad by Peter Bregman Peter Bregman stands in a two-hour queue-for-a-gadget for the first time to get his hands on iPad on its launch day. And within days, he is hooked. In this I-fear-I-might-loose-boredom post, Bregman talks about returning his iPad to Apple because it was "too good". He writes, "It's too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. For the most part, it does everything I could want. W

Book: "Inside Steve's [Jobs] Brain"

WHILE READING "Inside Steve’s Brain"  (sic) by  Leander Kahney  I got reminded of the following anecdote: This diplomat from the East was deputed to their embassy in Washington DC, in the United States. Having come to live in a Western country for the first time, the little man decided to pick up the holy book and began studying it in hopes of getting acquainted to the new culture more thoroughly. After a while when he met with a professor of religious studies at one of the colleges in New York, the humble man pronounced his predicament that after reading through the book almost three times over, he couldn’t figure out any religion in it. Nothing could be more illuminating in terms of human mindsets. For example, to an Eastern mindset that is used to live a life with abstractions and of elemental powers, such as the dance of the Shinto priests who proudly claim to have no theology; or with millennia old traditions of having religion a part of the daily routine as naturally a

TED 2011 Prize Goes to "Anonymous" J R

TED PRIZE IS AN ANNUAL AWARD INVOLVING USD 100,000 AND SUPPORT TO AN IDEA TO CHANGE THE WORLD. The 2011 prize has been awarded to someone only known as JR. It is believed to be a French photographer and artist, who anonymously painted and created installations on the walls of the world – mainly the urban slums. Known as "pervasive art", JR took help from urban volunteers to create black & white paintings on large urban walls and highlights the burning issues of the city and the region. Writings on the wall, literally. While the Guardian featured him as "the hippiest street artist" earlier this year, the 27 years old prefers the term "photograffeur", adding that, "If there is one thing I've always taken care of with my work, it's that it's never an advertisement for anything other than the work itself and for the people it's about — no 'Coca-Cola presents'". Fiercely protective of his anonymity, he actually appeared

HBR: What Is The Work Of The CEO?

"The CEO is the link between the Inside that is 'the organization,' and the Outside of society, economy, technology, markets, and customers. Inside there are only costs. Results are only on the outside." -- Peter Drucker, "The American CEO" Alan ("A.G.") Lafley TOOK OVER AS CEO of Procter & Gamble in June 2000 when the FMCG behemoth was battling turbulent times. At 6pm on his first day at the office as the new (and first time) CEO he was facing a hostile press conference live on national television – like a "deer in the headlights" as he recalls. P&G stock price that had crashed from $86 to $60 in one day tanking Dow index by 374 points, went further down by 11% at the news of Lafely's appointment as the new chief. The headlines went from "P&G Investor Confidence Shot" to "We love their products, But we hate their stocks." to "Does P&G Still Matter?" Four years into working hard at try

Sachin Tendulkar’s Stock Market Run

AUSTRALIA, THE DOMINANT SPORTING powerhouse among the 71 the Commonwealth countries, have invested into researching India’s cricket performance and how it relates to equity trading at Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange of Dalal Street in Mumbai, India. The market cap of BSE stands close to USD 1.4 trillion, and NSE, with market cap of nearly USD 1.5 trillion, is the third largest Stock Exchange in the world in terms of the number of trades in equities. Australia were dethroned by India from #1 spot for ICC test cricket ranking earlier this year, and are being challenged for their spot for the ODI ranking as the contest is on. And their desperation is evident on the field while the Test Series between the two national sides is currently under way. As Sachin Tendulkar, the cricketing legend goes on to slam his sixth double century for India, his second against Australia, (and the only International player to ever score a double hundred in the ODI format of the game),

Oct 2 - Mahatama Gandhi at 141

[Photo courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan] "If blood to be shed, let it be our own. Let us cultivate the calm courage to die without killing." ~ Mahatma Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) [Above] A video clipping of Gandhi's speech challenging Jan Smuts' racist law of segregation. From Attenborough's epic - Gandhi: The World Event . Richard Attenborough writes in his compilation book: "[Gandhi's] words struck me so forcibly that there and then I committed myself to attempt to make a film about Mahatma Gandhi - a commitment that changed the subsequent twenty years of my life." See also: Try for the clip on YouTube. Go here for Richard Attenborough's compilation book The Words of Gandhi .

A Thousand-days Challenge

"It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves." ~ Sir Edmund Hillary HOW WOULD IT FEEL to be up close and personal with Mt. Everest? Or to humbly come to face with the Chomolangma ("Saint Mother") as they say in Tibet? Well, we shall find out in next thousand days or less. Because that's the pledge: To camp underneath the summit of Mt. Everest within next 30 odd months or so . A thousand days may seem rather stretched, but for a goal such as this, it may all get tight pretty quickly. And needless to say that a much more detailed planning and preparations are required - a whole mountain to surmount in itself before the actual one - mainly towards the physical fitness and mental toughness - as well as evaluating other professional, social and economical commitments and feasibilities. Over the past week or so while the decision over the destination for the challenge has been under debate, some of these aspects have been taken into due consideration. And

Gartner: 10 Changes in the Nature of Work in Next 10 Years

"ORGANIZATIONS WILL NEED TO PLAN for increasingly chaotic environments that are out of their direct control, and adaptation must involve adjusting to all 10 of the trends (listed below)", observers Gartner fellow and VP, Tom Austin. In a report published earlier this year titled "Watchlist: Continuing Changes in the Nature of Work, 2010-2020", Gartner says that organizations will need to determine which of the 10 key changes in the nature of work will affect them the most, and consider whether radically different technology models will be required to address them. The other key message that emerges out of the report's overall analysis says: Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyper-connectedness, 'swarming' and by 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization's work will be "non-routine," up from 25 percent in 2010. Later next month, Tom Austin is scheduled to speak in London on these trends: De-routinizat

HBR: Paths to Power by Jeff Pfeffer

"Power is the organization’s last dirty secret." ~ Rosabeth Moss Kanter POWER IS REQUIRED IF ONE WANTS TO GET ANYTHING DONE in any large organization. Unfortunately, Power doesn’t just fall into one’s lap: one will have to go after it and learn how to use it. Stanford University professor for Organizational Development, Prof. Jeffery Pfeffer, argues that being uncomfortable with Power Dynamics has cost career promotions (and sometimes, the job) to many talented people from premier organizations and institutes including Harvard and Sloan. Pfeffer offers a primer on why power matters, how to get it, and how to use it to advance your organization's agenda - and thus, in turn, how to furthering your career, not just incidentally. Powerful people prevail by using various techniques when push comes to shove. With examples from real-life and historical accounts from corporate and national political scenarios Pfeffer illustrates many of these techniques. (Interestingly, Pfeffer

Steve Jobs' Presentation Skills Reflects Why Apple is Apple

"This changes everything. Again" AFTER THE WORLD'S LARGEST PRODUCT LAUNCH EVENT YET, on July 16 Steve Jobs did the press conference following the recent keynote for the world's largest IT organization that Jobs staged for the eleventh year running after his return in '99 to the (then struggling) company he originally co-founded in '76 as Apple Computers Inc. Over the last two and an half years since the launch of the first iPhone, the competition has grown (and perished ) in the smartphone product space. The information hungry, instantaneously reacting, viral population of Social Media 'journalism' was increasingly demanding of this Silicon Valley veteran from 1, Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA, USA. Apparently, Apple's latest offering of iPhone 4 smartphone with services from AT&T ran into media highlighted issues of a certain "loop antenna" problem where the device was dropping calls if the user happened to hold the device in a

Nassim Taleb on Euro

"EURO IS DOOMED AS A CONCEPT", declares the author of "The Black Swan", Nassim Taleb, at a recent interview with CNBC. Adding that "We had less debt cumulatively [two years ago], and more people employed. Today, we have more risk in the system, and a smaller tax base. [...] Banks balance sheets are just as bad as they were" two years ago when the crisis began and "the quality of the risks hasn't improved." Part I: While discussing the outlook for the global economy with Bob Long (CEO, Conversus Capital) on CNBC, Taleb says, "We have no other solution but to slash debt". Part II: "The balance sheets of banks are just as bad as they were" two years ago when the crisis began and "the quality of the risks hasn't improved," argues Nassim Taleb.

Infographic: Labour Cost Disparities

DISPARITIES OF LABOR COSTS: Interesting Infographic showing how long does it take other countries to make the equivalent of US minimum wage of USD 15,080. Click the image to enlarge Source: FixR With respect to India, the calculation considers the Government recommended minimum daily wage which is about USD 2.5. In practice, a common worker shall make double to three times of this amount, which is still very less compared to high cost regions but it would make the ratio less skewed. Further, if Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is considered, the difference between USA and India costs shall be about 6 years and 3 months.

Cheers! to Life

Cheers to Life!