Friday, July 31, 2015

tears in the rain: from 'blade runner'

this final soliloquy by ray batty, an android replicant, is without a doubt the best monologue in science fiction films of all time. interestingly, the actor, rutger hauer, improvised quite a bit on the lines, but it is a very effective delivery.

i consider it a must-see clip of about 3 mins. batty the replicant, has defeated decker, the 'blade runner' who is assigned to terminate him. and now that decker is about to fall to his death, batty saves his life; and then the dialog. The dialog!

i have no idea what are "attack ships off the shoulder of orion" or "c beams on tannhauser gate", but it is a beautiful ending. 

my favorite sci fi movies of all time:

1. 2001 a space odyssey
2. blade runner
3. solaris

oddly enough, in all three of them, the most sympathetic, 'human' character is a non-human: in 2001, the computer HAL who loses his mind, in blade runner, the replicant batty, and in solaris the sentient sea that's beaming hallucinogetic images into the spaceship that's bothering it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fwd: Book Review: The Idea of Justice: Amartya Sen

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Capt
This book review is jointly authored by Saradindu Mukherji and Shoumendu Mukherji.
The Nobel laureate in economics makes tremendous use of history, contemporary politics and value systems, with a generous mixing of moral judgement in The Idea of Justice (Amartya Sen, Allen Lane, 2009), like many of his publications and public lectures. This review primarily takes up only such matters.

The idea of justice—the origin of the very concept, its tumultuous growth battling the impediments on its  forward journey, its mechanism, and the debate over its effectiveness, is a formidable intellectual challenge, and so is Sen's critique of Rawls, regarded perhaps rightly as one of the most renowned philosophers of our times.  There is a very interesting discussion of the 'Rational Choice Theory' and 'Sustainable Development and the Environment' and more admirable is the way Sen makes them intelligible to the uninitiated. Throughout the course of history, the idea of justice has been conceived and administered in varying ways depending on the socio-cultural ethos and political systems that prevail in various countries.

The Supreme Court of India has opined, 'justice may be social, moral or legal, meaning between two contesting parties in a court of law, as per the record of the case based on evidence after a fair and impartial trial. Further, it has been held that to secure the 'ends of justice' is to act in the best interest of both parties within the four corners of the statute preserving the balance and sanctity of the Constitutional and statutory  rights of the individual and public at large.'

However, in the present times, the idea of justice as propounded by the Supreme Court of India has often been nixed by the belief that 'justice must be seen to be done (R v Thames (1974) 1 WLR 1371) ' at the cost of 'natural justice i.e. the right to a fair trial' in order to please our society at large where perception often triumphs over 'realism'.

An adverse public opinion is manufactured against the accused prematurely on sub-judice matters without weighing the evidence. This precedent is not only irresponsible but damaging to the very root of our legal framework. 'Rule of law' has two aspects—substantive and procedural, where each element complements the other. Compromising on any one over the other owing to exigency or for 'playing to the galleries' critically scuttles the 'due process of law' and results in'rule of law' becoming nugatory.

Be that as it may at the operational level, Sen offers a cross-country scenario of the concept of justice, spread well over many centuries in this work. We note with much optimism his plea for  clearly remediable injustices around us which we want to eliminate' ( p.vii).

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china's quasi-naval militia: its fishing boats

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Ambrose Bierce on the Death Penalty

I have posted this before. Ambrose Bierce's argument is immortal. Yakub was not. 

"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," says the Theosophist, "is not justice. It is revenge and unworthy of a Christian civilization." It is exact justice: nobody can think of anything more accurately just than such punishments would be, whatever the motive in awarding them. Unfortunately such a system is not practicable, but he who denies its absolute justice must deny also the justice of a bushel of corn for a bushel of corn, a dollar for a dollar, service for service. We can not undertake by such clumsy means as laws and courts to do to the criminal exactly what he has done to his victim, but to demand a life for a life is simple, practicable, expedient and (therefore) right.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

a video analyzing the modi govt's work so far: gautam sen et al

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Quick notes: IS' death wish, Turkish double cross...

  • “Attacking in India is the Holy Grail of South Asian jihadists”: The document warns that “preparations” for an attack in India are underway and predicts that an attack will provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with America: “Even if the U.S tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the ummah will be united, resulting in the final battle.” "Striking in India would magnify the Islamic State’s stature and threaten the stability of the region”. 

  • Obama fails the Kurds: Turkey's 'safe zone' a ploy to crush the Kurds. Turkey launches heaviest air strikes yet on Kurdish group. Why Turkey sees the Kurdish people as a Bigger Threat than ISIS

  • Giving up on govt schools: Rajasthan government's basic premise that private schools are better than the government schools, is grossly flawed. In fact, a five-year study between 2009 and 2013 by the Azim Premji Foundation in rural Andhra Pradesh suggests that private schools are no better than the government schools. The parents preferred sending their wards to private institutions, mainly because of uniforms, discipline, attendance in school (both of children and teachers), and social standing in the community.

  • Environment Minister's "achievements": Until November 2014, a total of 12,05,138 hectares of forest land was diverted for different projects in the country. Actual compensatory afforestation done over non-forest land received was just 7 per cent of the requirement.

  • Of Rasam and Rice: The Humble Lifestyle of Former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

  • Falling demand: Coca-Cola India effects first production cut in a decade

  • Wrong place for crony capitalism: Reliance shale gas returns turn negative in US

  • Rooftop revolution: Organic vegetable farming is taking off in Kerala

  • Salt Lamp: Alternative to kerosene/battery powered lamps takes two tablespoons of salt and a glass of water.

  • Caesarean epidemic: Brazil strives to reduce sky-high C-section rate

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quick notes: High-net individuals, Iran pipeline...

  • Outflow of high-networth individuals: 61,000 millionaires left India for foreign shores in the past 14 years... Another reason why we should reject "development" that ignores quality of life.

  • Unconventional President: Here was the son of a devout Muslim who could quote most of the verses from the Tamil classic Tirukurral, played the veena, prayed at temples and was a vegetarian.

  • Secularism to go from Nepal constitution: The political parties were forced to take a U-turn after millions of people, in their suggestions and feedback on the new constitution, called for the removal of the word "secularism".

  • From the land of Graham Staines: Church in Australia hid 1000 child sex abusers. Notes relating to abuse claims were destroyed so they would not be discovered. 

  • Return 'Koh-i-Noor' to India: "Pursuing monetary reparations is complex, time consuming and potentially fruitless, but there is no excuse for not returning precious items such as the Koh-i-Noor diamond".

  • India-Iran gas pipeline: Ultra-deepwater pipelines have only become possible in the last decade or so, with the development of new seafloor mapping technologies, huge deep-sea pipe-laying vessels, and undersea robots or autonomous underwater vehicles that can carry out construction, repair, and maintenance tasks at tremendous depths.

  • Rename Aurangzeb Road to Abdul Kalam Marg

  • Reversing cataract:Scientists create eye drop that dissolves cataracts with naturally occurring chemical

  • Will Jaitley succeed in stone-walling this: The court-appointed Special Investigation Team on black money has suggested measures to check inflows through Participatory Notes, which are derivative instruments issued in foreign jurisdictions by an FII against underlying Indian securities.

  • Are night shifts killing me? There has been a steady stream of studies over recent years that suggests long-term night-working is extremely bad for your health.

  • How many showers would you skip to help the beef industry? By skipping 26 showers for every 4 oz hamburger you eat, you can offset the water used to produce it.

  • Kosher beachwear: ‘Modest’ Bathing Suits Make a Splash.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Quick notes: Steel debt, Diamond trade...

  • Indian steel industry and the banks' gamble: The Indian steel industry has $50 billion in debt, 10 times what the steelmakers earned in the last financial year. The more steel India produces at uncompetitive prices, the bigger the eventual hit to lenders, particularly state-owned banks. So it is in their own interest to cut off life support to producers, eliminating superfluous capacity.

  • Indian steel, then and now: The famous iron pillar of Qutab Minar in Delhi made centuries ago by our traditional lohars still stands proudly without rusting or corroding. The steel being produced by our modern degree-holders is of such poor standard that even the not too quality-conscious Railway Ministry has alleged that tracks made of SAIL steel crack up and corrode within months of installation, causing numerous rail accidents.

    Temples and houses made by our traditional sthapathis have withstood the ravages of centuries. Even as ruins, they look aesthetic and grand. The housing colonies designed and constructed by our modern degree-holding architects look like eyesores from the day they are built and start falling apart before they are occupied.

    If we take away the disadvantages that ignorance of English brings with it, our traditional technologists -- ironsmiths, weavers, carpenters, sthapathis and other metallurgists -- would fare much better in gaining entrance to scientific and engineering institutions as well as in the world of manufacturing.

  • Hedge Fund Intern: A 'monkey' could be a junior banker at a place like Goldman Sachs

  • How Indian families took over the Antwerp diamond trade from orthodox Jews: Indians have come to control almost three-quarters of Antwerp’s diamond industry. Antwerp’s Indian diamantaires are almost without exception Jains and tend to import personal cooks from India. Many wouldn’t even tolerate a non-vegetarian in the kitchen.

  • Pope Francis’s environmental message falls on deaf ears: Australia to earn $1.5bn a year from China cattle exports

  • The joy of less car traffic: Stockholm will ban cars for one day this fall.

  • Language and Minority: "While living in a different State, it is only appropriate for the linguistic minority to learn the regional language. The resistance to learn the regional language will lead to alienation from the mainstream of life resulting in linguistic fragmentation within the State, which is an anathema to national integration. The learning of different language will definitely bridge the cultural barriers and will positively contribute to the cultural integration of the country".

  • "Inspired" by film, Delhi serial rapist killed 40 kids: Ravinder has told the police his inspiration came from “Maa”, a Hindi film released in 1992, in which an actor was shown raping and murdering children.

  • Real Voice Lesson 1: Tune Your Voice Now