Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dubai's great crash

Potent analysis on why Dubai was perhaps never really meant to be anything more than a port and a vacation spot. As we know, the poorest are always hit the hardest. As this excellent article explains, Dubai's migrant laborers have already lost their freedom (their passports have been confiscated). They are overworked and underpaid. It may seem impossible, but their lives are probably about to get a lot worse.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

NYT's most notable books of 2009

So much to read. So little time. My highlights from the NYT's list of 100.

1. Open: An Autobiography (ANDRE AGASSI)
2. The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street (JUSTIN FOX)
3. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (DAVID GRANN)
4. Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (GREG GRANDIN)
5. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (T J STILES)
6. Columbine (DAVE CULLEN)
7. The Case for God (KAREN ARMSTRONG)

Free apps

A great list of free applications.

Jarnail Singh on the Sikh massacres of 1984

I was a youngster living in Delhi during the horrendous Sikh massacres of 1984 that followed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards. Indira's assassins were avenging the Indian army's invasion and occupation of the holiest Sikh shrine earlier in the year. The army was called out and stationed near our house at IIT's Student Activity Center. However, the massacres in Delhi (and elsewhere in India) were allowed to continue uninterrupted for several days before the army was finally deployed. My family and I had readied our revolver and discussed a plan for tackling the rioters. Luckily, the students never allowed the mobs to enter the campus.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fat America

Another illustration of my contention that poverties of all varieties (monetary, education, health) tend to go together.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Poverty, illiteracy and poor health go hand-in-hand

As demonstrated by this story, poverty of all varieties (monetary, literary, health) tend to go hand-in-hand. Our society suffers from two major themes of bad eating habits. One, large portions are definitely a problem. Many people fail to distinguish between quality and quantity. As this eye-opening article on Japan's initiative to tax obesity points out, the Japanese are the world's least obese nation and they eat very small portions. Two, our rushed lifestyles are also a problem -- when food is eaten in a hurried fashion, one tends to overeat because the body isn't given the time it needs in order to register the food and determine that it is sated or full. As a result, the stomach is already over capacity by the time it gets around to registering the food and sending a signal to the brain indicating that it is all set.


The most amazing picture I have seen in a very long time.

Open source gems

A compendium of open source gems.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The fast food epidemic

I recently stumbled upon Robert Lustig's lecture entitled Sugar: The Bitter Truth. I recommend it highly -- at least the first half, after which it becomes a bit too technical -- for understanding exactly why fast food is killing us. As Lustig explains, there are two killer elements in fast food. One, fast foods contain lots of bad sugars like fructose and sucrose (most of all in the biggie sized sweetened sodas that accompany each value meal), which cause the body to do a poor job of knowing when it doesn't need any more food. (Contrast this with glucose, the good sugar that is present in maple syrup or honey.) Two, fast foods remove the fiber so that the food will cook faster. The reduction in fiber causes the body to absorb more sugar and do an even poorer job of knowing when it doesn't need any more food. So, fast foods offer a double whammy -- extra sugar combined with little or no fiber. Similarly, fruit juice is worse than fruit, because (you guessed it) it has the sugar but not the fiber.