Sunday, January 30, 2011

In the wild - III

In the wild - II - Jan 2nd, 2011
In the wild - Dec 28th, 2010

Ordered a pizza from Domino's and when it was delivered found it had a QR code printed on the box... Unfortunately a label had been applied partially over the code. Peeling it back left behind a code that turned out to be unreadable (trying five different programs - Barcode Assistant, ScanLife, QR Code Scanner Pro, i-Nigma, and mobiletag). So, not sure exactly what the QR code would have resolved to...

A number of wineries are now using QR codes to provide additional information about them and their wines, e.g. see below...

Random charts

Misc update (caste)

Previous entries related to caste:
Education emancipates? - Jun 26th, 2010
Misc update (caste) - Aug 29, 2009
Updates - #3 - Aug 25th, 2008
Frame of Reference - June 27th 2008
Caste - May 26th 2008

Previous blog entries decried the pernicious and corrosive practice that is casteism in India... The article, 'Caste, Hinduism, and Human Rights', references 'Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste' by the Hindu American Foundation and argues that caste-based discrimination is not an intrinsic feature of the Hindu religion...

"In "Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste," HAF acknowledges that while caste-based discrimination represents a failure of Hindu society to live up to the essential spiritual teachings of the tradition, the solution, in part, lies in the proper practice of these teachings (and on better enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws in India). It also recognizes that while caste arose in Hindu society, and that some Hindu texts and traditions justify a birth-based hierarchy and caste-bias, many Hindu scriptures and Hindu religious and spiritual figures, throughout history, have vehemently opposed caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy. And lastly, it explains that caste discrimination and caste-based violence affect all of India's religious communities and is today driven significantly by political and economic factors.

But the single most important point to take home from this pivotal report, I believe, is that even though caste-based discrimination may have arisen in Hindu society, it is not intrinsic to Hinduism. Contrary to the wide academic and media conflation of caste and Hinduism, the practice of caste-based discrimination is in direct contradiction to the quintessential Hindu teaching that each individual is equally divine and has the potential to realize God based on his or her own effort."

This may be entirely correct... However, given the multiple caveats in the report, this blogger is not entirely convinced, and this may be a distinction without much meaning...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Misc update (climate)

Picture credit: NASA

Previous blog entries related to climate:
Climate denial - Jun 5th, 2010
More on climate - Jan 31st, 2010
Climate change and doubt - Jan 24th, 2010
Meet Dr. Rajendra Pachuri - Jan 23rd, 2010
We wuz wrong - Jan 23rd, 2010
Saving the day... - Dec 20th, 2009
Skimmed milk masquerades as cream - Dec 17, 2009

Earlier blog entries argued that shoddy reporting combined with the complexity of the science made it difficult, nay, make that quasi impossible, for an informed and discerning layperson to have an independent understanding of climate science. Also that occasional reporting of additional theories and or data sometimes seemingly at odds with the consensus position, can and do muddy the waters... One such example is the role of solar activity...

For example, from an earlier blog entry we had : "Another example would be from this finding, Sunshine speeded 1940s Swiss glacier melt: scientists, which seems to indicate that in this specific case solar radiation at one point might have been a better explanation for melting of the glaciers in the Alps than temperature... Note: this disagrees with the thrust of the consensus position that it is carbon dioxide levels (worsened by human activity) and the associated higher temperatures that are the main reason for the loss of glaciers rather than solar radiation (natural i.e. no human intervention)."

Now, an article, 'Cosmic rays contribute 40 p.c. to global warming: study', reports that a scientific paper released by the Indian Environment Ministry says that solar activity has a much larger effect than previously thought.... "A key belief of climate science theology — that a reduction in carbon emissions will take care of the bulk of global warming — has been questioned in a scientific paper released by the Environment Ministry on Monday. Physicist and the former ISRO chairman, U.R. Rao, has calculated that cosmic rays — which, unlike carbon emissions, cannot be controlled by human activity — have a much larger impact on climate change than The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims. In fact, the contribution of decreasing cosmic ray activity to climate change is almost 40 per cent, argues Dr. Rao in a paper which has been accepted for publication in Current Science, the preeminent Indian science journal. The IPCC model, on the other hand, says that the contribution of carbon emissions is over 90 per cent"

So, what is one to believe? Is the IPCC focus on greenhouse gasses greatly overstated? Or is this new study too "convenient" for the Indian government ("... the “unidimensional focus” on carbon emissions by most Western countries put additional pressure on countries like India in international climate negotiations ..." and "... If human activity cannot influence such a significant cause of climate change as cosmic rays, it could change the kind of pressure put on countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions ...")?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random chart

Source: When Yellowstone Explodes (NatGeo)

Three years!

Three years ago this blogger started this blog and posted a January 27th, 2008 entry related to the death of Benazir Bhutto... After three years what can one say? Traffic hasn't been that great, just a handful of visitors each day, not many of them 'repeats.' No doubt there are not that many folks who are particularly interested in this specific mix of blog entries - politics, security, gadgets, health care, etc. However, it is fun to note that in this interconnected age, there have been visits from most continents... Hopefully those who have visited have felt it was worth their while...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Random picture

Source: Don’t hate Jumblatt, hate the game

BB & 1-D Sccope

Sccope is a "personal shopping assistant" program...

From the BB AppWorld: "Sccope is the BEST shopping application on the BlackBerry®! It provides a wealth of features including browsing by category, searching by barcode (where available) or by using your keypad! You can set a price alert so when the price drops on that product you get a notification which means you can make a decision whether you want to buy – how cool? Make the best purchase decisions by comparing prices while you are shopping online or in the store. Our users are consistently AMAZED at the price differences between major stores."

I downloaded the program to a Torch (BB9800), and tried it out. The screen shots below show the results when scanning a variety of items - a book, music CD, some consumer products (wine, peanut butter), and an electronic item (Note: this blog entry does not look at the other capabilities e.g. shopping by category, price alerts, etc.)

The bottom line? An excellent program, that might just save you some money on items you are buying!

Sccope on
Sccope Blog
Sccope Company Site
Sccope on Twitter
Sccope on Facebook
Sccope demo on YouTube
Sccope also available for your iPhone

Monday, January 24, 2011

Great quotes

"... It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; the Israelis, who are polite in word but contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, whose neutrality consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong..."
- Guardian editorial, The Palestinian papers: Pleading for a fig leaf

Random chart

Source: Sugar Policy: Sweet Deal for Producers, Sour for Consumers

Random chart

Source: comScore Reports January 2010 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share