Tuesday, September 16

The debt to your parents

So I bought this little antiquarian book published in 1889, Hypatia. She is a favourite of mine (here’s a previous post) and bought it as a birthday present.


But this was the interesting part.


Makes on think, eh? beautifully articulated. One doesn't usually find such emotional though wonderfully elucidated dedications these days, they are all namby pamby. In any case, you don't see massively compound sentences anyway. I wonder if there are any people out there with the patience to appreciate compound sentences any more?

Monday, September 15

The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers


I've eaten this ghost chilly. One bite. One chomp. Once. Spat it out. And cried for 2 hours. Involuntarily. It was pain like I've never experienced and I thought that the knee ligament break was bad. Terrifying. I wanted to die but even that wasn't possible. Seriously bad. And then there's the lady who's on YouTube who rubs bhoot jolakia on her eyes. Mad. 

Nagaland is also beautiful son. Go there is you get a chance. You also get dog curry :) it's an acquired taste heh. 



The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine

Chiliheads crave the heat that hurts so good, but nothing compares to the legendary superhot that spices life in remote India

  • By Mary Roach
  • Smithsonian magazine, June 2013, Subscribe

Chilis being transported to the Nagaland’s chili competition. Gloves need to be worn because the chili oils can harm the skin. (Aaron Joel Santos / Novus Select)

The 17 tribes of Nagaland are united, historically, by an enthusiasm for heads. The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India—my reading matter on the two-hour drive from Dimapur to Kohima, in the state of Nagaland —contains dozens of references to head-taking but only one mention of the item that has brought me here: the Naga King Chili (a.k.a. Bhut Jolokia), often ranked the world’s hottest. “In the Chang village of Hakchang,” the anthropologist J. H. Hutton is quoted as saying in 1922, “…women whose blood relations on the male side have taken a head may cook the head, with chilies, to get the flesh off.” Hutton’s use of “cook” would seem to be a reference to Chang culinary practice. Only on rereading did I realize the Chang weren’t eating the chilies—or the flesh, for that matter—but using them to clean the skull.

Thursday, August 14

Georgia's War on Drugs: How Its Subutex Addiction Ended

Wars are particularly stupid son. Drug wars are even more stupid. You know what I feel about this. 

But here's a great story about how Georgia fought drugs. Remember they just won one battle. The druggies are still there. Eating vomit. Stay away from drugs son. It's horrible. That's what you are reduced to. Eating somebody else's vomit. 



Georgia's War on Drugs: How Its Subutex Addiction Ended | New Republic

Needle drugs seldom make a city look pretty, but some cities are more disfigured by them than others. In 2006, when I first visited Tbilisi, Georgia, it had all the wrecked majesty of an ex-beauty queen with six years of track-marks down her arms. It was a great European capital in decay: crumbling bridges, refugees from war, and—most of all—cast-off syringes everywhere. Alleys, parks, and tunnels under the Soviet-style boulevards all had this spiky detritus, which badly spoiled Tbilisi’s old-world romance and instead put it into a permanent state of biohazard.

So when I returned this year, I packed thick-soled shoes. It turned out that, but for the frigid temperatures (and my own self-respect), I could have worn Tevas. The syringes, which once pumped opiates into the veins of as many as 250,000 addicts, are absent. The subway now feels safe, clean, and orderly, with no trash more revolting than a Snickers wrapper. The tunnels under Rustaveli Avenue still smell pissy, but so do most big cities’ tunnels. If the addicts are still there, they have been persuaded to shoot up with greater discretion. And if they are now gone, the Georgians have accomplished something remarkable, which is the rapid diminution of smackheads.

Wednesday, August 13

Atul Gawande: How Do Good Ideas Spread?

Einstein said that genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Besides other things son I help change organisations. It's difficult. People don't like change. It's the inertia of rest. So one has to move this to the inertia of motion. Continuous improvement. This article tells much that's common in my life as well. Talk to people. Don't tell them what to do. Give options. Otherwise people will do because you told them to. Rather than do because it makes sense. 

Changing behaviours is the most difficult. And takes the longest period. Years even. You have to have insane levels of dedication, passion and perseverance. You will make mistakes. Lots of them. Learn from them son. But it can be done. 

Somebody said to me, you are strange. You like your job. I do. I like making things happen. Fun times. Nothing like walking out at the end of the day satisfied you have won some battles and have left the world a little better than you found it in the morning. 



Atul Gawande: How Do Good Ideas Spread? : The New Yorker

Why do some innovations spread so swiftly and others so slowly? Consider the very different trajectories of surgical anesthesia and antiseptics, both of which were discovered in the nineteenth century. The first public demonstration of anesthesia was in 1846. The Boston surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow was approached by a local dentist named William Morton, who insisted that he had found a gas that could render patients insensible to the pain of surgery. That was a dramatic claim. In those days, even a minor tooth extraction was excruciating. Without effective pain control, surgeons learned to work with slashing speed. Attendants pinned patients down as they screamed and thrashed, until they fainted from the agony. Nothing ever tried had made much difference. Nonetheless, Bigelow agreed to let Morton demonstrate his claim.

On October 16, 1846, at Massachusetts General Hospital, Morton administered his gas through an inhaler in the mouth of a young man undergoing the excision of a tumor in his jaw. The patient only muttered to himself in a semi-conscious state during the procedure. The following day, the gas left a woman, undergoing surgery to cut a large tumor from her upper arm, completely silent and motionless. When she woke, she said she had experienced nothing at all.

Tuesday, August 12

Online Library of Liberty - The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes


Perhaps you may want to file this away till you have some spare time and are interested in philosophy and law and religion. 

Ibn Rusd or Averroes as he was known in the west is one of humanities great Heros. An intellectual giant. Polymath. Jurist. Philosopher. Medicine. Arts. A man like Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo  Buonarroti. A true renaissance man. 

He argued against the stultifying and suffocating embrace of religion son. Wrote copiously. Amazing man and amazing philosophy. 

Classic example of how history repeats himself. He analysed the Greeks to fight the Muslim fundos. Then he was forgotten in Muslim lands but the Jews and Christians used his work to fight their fight in Europe. Early last century he was rediscovered by the Muslims and he is being used to fight against the spreading fundamentalism like salafism and Wahhabism. 

Fascinating. At a lecture in London about him, one of the speakers said that the Islamic societies in British universities are full of the most close minded Muslims ever. When you go there son, observe them closely. It's those close minds that ibn rusd fought against. 



Online Library of Liberty - The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes

Table of Contents

The Gaekwad Studies in Religion and Philosophy: XI.


Printed by Manibhai Mathurbhai Gupta at the “Arya-Sudharak” Printing Press, Raopura, Baroda, and Published by A. G. Widgery, the College, Baroda 1-1-1921

[Back to Table of Contents]



It was at your feet that I first learned to appreciate historical and literary research, and the following pages constitute the earliest fruits of that literary labour of mine the impetus for which I am proud to have received from you. I crave your indulgence for my taking the liberty of dedicating the same to your revered name, with the hope that it will not fail to attract the same generous sympathy from you as you have always shown to your pupil.

[Back to Table of Contents]


It was as a Fellow of the Seminar for the Comparative Study of Religions at the College, Baroda, that the present work was begun. The subject was taken up in the first place as a parallel study to that contained in a paper in the Indian Philosophical Review, Volume II, July 1918, pp. 24-32 entitled “Maimonides and the Attainment of Religious Truth.” But as I proceeded with my investigation I thought it might be best to let Averroes speak for himself. For this reason I have here translated certain treatises of Averroes, as edited in the Arabic text by D. H. Muller in “Philosophie und Theologie von Averroes.” Munich 1859. I am confident that the book will prove an interesting one and will explain itself to the reader without any introduction on my part.

Though owing to my appointment at Hyderabad I resigned my position at Baroda soon after commencing this work I wish here to express my thanks to Professor Alban G. Widgery of Baroda for his constant sympathy with and encouragement for my work in and out of the Seminar. He has also kindly accepted the book for inclusion in the Gaekwad Studies in Religion and Philosophy. I am indebted to him for a complete revision of the manuscript and for the onerous work of seeing the book through the press. I am also indebted to my brother Mutazid Wali ur Rehman, b.a. for valuable help in rendering many obscure passages.

Mohammad Jamil ur Rehman

Monday, August 11

Over the hump for oil demand

Here's a fascinating economic tipping point for you son. The world you will grow up in will be different from what I grew up in. Energy will not be that important.
This will have serious geopolitical and economic not to mention social implications. Here's something to chew over, what will you do to take advantage of this? Short some stocks? Buy something? Which ones? Which markets? Which countries?

I saw this article when using the Financial Times app and thought you might be interested:
Financial Times,
Over the hump for oil demand
By Christof Ruehl
Energy intensity is falling as the world is using less oil, gas and coal and other fuels to deliver each additional dollar of GDP, says BP’s Christof Ruehl
Read the full article at:

Friday, August 8

A Liberal Decalogue: Bertrand Russell's 10 Commandments of Teaching

Here's another amazing man pontificating on education. I'm proud to call myself as a liberal. The traditional liberal. Not the idiotic thing that the Americans have made it into. And we come from a long line of teachers kannu. Your father is a Professor. Your grandparents are professors. My grandfather was a professor. And so it goes back generations. Who knows you may also become one. It's one of the most rewarding of professions son. Not only you get paid to learn, you are constantly on a journey of exploration. 

But even if you become a corporate member or setup your own business, you will still need to teach. These principles are worth knowing and following. 



A Liberal Decalogue: Bertrand Russell's 10 Commandments of Teaching | Brain Pickings

by Maria Popova

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

imageBritish philosopher, mathematician, historian, and social critic Bertrand Russell endures as one of the most intellectually diverse and influential thinkers in modern history, his philosophy of religion in particular having shaped the work of such modern atheism champions as Christopher Hitchens,Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins. From the third volume of The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell: 1944-1969 comes this remarkable micro-manifesto, entitled A Liberal Decalogue — a vision for responsibilities of a teacher, in which Russell touches on a number of recurring themes from pickings past — the purpose of education, the value of uncertainty, the importance of critical thinking, the gift of intelligent criticism, and more.

Thursday, August 7

Decoding the great Indian real estate ponzi scheme


Real estate is a horrible industry to be in. Supply is constrained. Governments take an unhealthy interest in it. People need housing. It's a strange place. 

So remember you will always need a place to live. Get an average house. Pay it off as soon as you can like we did. And invest in other industries which are more productive. 



Decoding the great Indian real estate ponzi scheme - Firstpost

A headline can sometimes tell you the complete story. The May 20, 2013, Hindi edition of the Business Standard had one such headline. “Intehan ho gayi intezar ki, aayi na kuch khabar ghar bar ki (Its been a long time waiting, and there is still no news of the house),” went the headline.

The headline was a play on the hit Amitabh Bachchan-Kishore Kumar song “Intehan ho gayi intezar ki, aayi na kuch khabar mere yaar ki (Its been a long time waiting, and there is still no news of my love) ,” from the movie Sharabi.
The story which appeared in the English edition of Business Standard as well with a rather drab headline
‘Supply blues persist in realty sector’, basically made two points:

Wednesday, August 6

Perceptive Travel - Rolf Potts in Rishakesh

Frankly son, if somebody gets all mystical and says crap like tantric sex, just smile at them. Lovemaking is simple. You have to be a touchy feely person. What happens before and after is perhaps more important than the actual act. Cuddling after is just a great thing. Take time to learn about your partner's likes and dislikes son. Learn to use all the senses, touch, smell, sight, hearing. Everything. And self control and discipline. You have more fun if your partner has more fun :)

Keep in shape. Engage with your partner. Laugh often and frequently son in and out of bed. And ignore advise like peeing in short bursts :)

Have fun son and stay safe. 

Perceptive Travel - Rolf Potts in Rishakesh

Tantric masters are reputed to be able to have sex for hours at a time. In a quirky ashram in the sacred Indian city of Rishikesh, Rolf Potts takes a crash course in this mystic Eastern discipline.

I. The Girl

You spot The Girl on your first afternoon in Rishikesh. She is long-limbed and graceful, and she walks carefully along the path, as if not to disturb the dirt beneath her bare feet. She wears loose cotton pants, and tiny bells in her hair. She is smiling. Her stomach is browned and taut; the tiny hairs on her arms are bleached from the sun. When she spots a cow in her path, she stops to stroke its neck and whisper into its ear. You watch, and you wish you were that cow.

You think to yourself: If I have come here to learn Tantric sex, I want that woman to be my partner.

II. The Holy Place

Rishikesh straddles the Ganges just below the point where the sacred river comes roaring out from the mountains. The water here is clean and cold: In the morning, Hindu pilgrims tip offerings of fresh milk from the riverside ghats; in the afternoon, helmeted tourists — Indian and foreign alike — bump through the current in rubber whitewater rafts. Monkeys chatter in the trees along the shore.

As in other holy places in India, the dread-locked sadhus near the river do a steady side-business posing for tourist photographs. Middle-aged Indian men stroll the alleys, offering you marijuana in the same chirpy, unconcerned voice one might use in offering snack pellets to a pet gerbil. Kids here tug on your sleeve and ask you for ballpoint pens. You did not initially come here to learn Tantric sex. Rather, you stopped here en route to the Himalayas, on the recommendation of a yoga-obsessed friend. You are not much into yoga, but one charm of travel is that it frees you to be a dilettante. Just as you tried scuba diving in Thailand and windsurfing in Galilee, you intend to try yoga in Rishikesh and decide later if you really want to make it an active part of your life. Advertisements for yogis are pasted everywhere in Rishikesh, and you sometimes stop to read them. Your favorite comes from a certain Swami Vivekananda. “I mix the rational understanding of the West with the mystical approach of the East,” his flyer states. “I will not bother you with religious nonsense, weird rituals, dogmas, or superstitions.” The true selling point, however, is printed at the bottom. It says: “SUNDAYS: A step-by-step approach to the oral secret tradition of the Tantric schools of India and Tibet.” You don’t know a lot about Tantra, but you’re pretty sure it’s a technique that allows you to have sex for hours and hours at a stretch. You elect to remain in Rishikesh until Sunday and pay Swami Vivekananda’s ashram a visit.

Monday, August 4

Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online?

A long read son. Whilst it won't impact you or perhaps even Diya, a significant change is coming to higher tertiary education. The Gutenberg bible was the start. When the link between 1-2-1 teaching and learning was broken. When the bible in local languages was made available, it didn't need a priest / teacher to teach religion or education. Slowly life is changing. 

You don't have to be in a classroom to learn. But you personally have to have a degree as that is a qualification. A union card if you will. You heard the discussion over the weekend son. One needs to be at the top university. Oxford and Cambridge are it. Then LSE and others. Or if you want to study in Harvard or MIT. 

But you will face the students who have studied online. As potential employees, customers, tax payers and shareholders. Their behaviour and economic incentives will be slightly if significantly different. The trick is to know and recognise this difference son. 



Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online? : The New Yorker

Gregory Nagy, a professor of classical Greek literature at Harvard, is a gentle academic of the sort who, asked about the future, will begin speaking of Homer and the battles of the distant past. At seventy, he has owlish eyes, a flared Hungarian nose, and a tendency to gesture broadly with the flat palms of his hands. He wears the crisp white shirts and dark blazers that have replaced tweed as the raiment of the academic caste. His hair, also white, often looks manhandled by the Boston wind. Where some scholars are gnomic in style, Nagy piles his sentences high with thin-sliced exposition. (“There are about ten passages—and by passages I simply mean a selected text, and these passages are meant for close reading, and sometimes I’ll be referring to these passages as texts, or focus passages, but you’ll know I mean the same thing—and each one of these requires close reading!”) When he speaks outside the lecture hall, he smothers friends and students with a stew of blandishment and praise. “Thank you, Wonderful Kevin!” he might say. Or: “The Great Claudia put it so well.” Seen in the wild, he could be taken for an antique-shop proprietor: a man both brimming with solicitous enthusiasm and fretting that the customers are getting, maybe, just a bit too close to his prized Louis XVI chair.

Nagy has published no best-sellers. He is not a regular face on TV. Since 1978, though, he has taught a class called “Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization,” and the course, a survey of poetry, tragedy, and Platonic dialogues, has made him a campus fixture. Because Nagy’s zest for Homeric texts is boundless, because his lectures reflect decades of refinement, and because the course is thought to offer a soft grading curve (its nickname on campus is Heroes for Zeroes), it has traditionally filled Room 105, in Emerson Hall, one of Harvard’s largest classroom spaces. Its enrollment has regularly climbed into the hundreds.