Nehru’s Arrogant Ambition

[From the Berkeley blog June 2003 archives.]

Why is India poor? As some have argued, India is poor by choice. I will explore that idea a bit here.

Of course, that does not mean that every poor Indian has chosen to be poor. Someone else in a position of power made choices whose consequences are evident. India’s leaders – past and present – have consistently made choices that have had, and are having, a disastrous effect on the lives of hundreds of millions of human beings. What motivates these people is a question that directly follows from any attempt to answer the question of why India is poor. Nehru epitomizes the class of people that have through their choices doomed India to being an almost irrelevant nation of one billion humans.
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Whoring Aamir Khan Style

Whoring is an ancient human tradition and some primatologists even say that it is not restricted to human animals alone. Cynics definitely believe that everyone has a price and can be bought to assume any desired position. I am a cynic and Diogenes of Sinope is a hero of mine.

The Acorn reports that Aamir Khan has decided to carry the Olympic torch on its journey through India. He is paid by the Coca Cola company to do so. Whoring for the Chinese government indirectly through the commercial interests of a peddler of soft drinks is no shame. Aamir Khan is a past master of the game.
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The “dot-corn” Bubble

The April 7th cover story of TIME, “The Clean Energy Scam,” claims that by pushing corn-derived ethanol in the US as an additive to oil, politicians and Big Business are making a bad situation worse. It is causing food prices to rise globally, contributing to global warming, and stealing money out of the public purse.

To some this is old hat. For a while people have been arguing against corn-based ethanol. Mother Jones magazine did a story on it in November 2007 (where I had come across the term “dot corn”). The graphic below from there succinctly makes the case against corn-based ethanol.
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Milk Does a Body Good?

Let me start off with the confession that I don’t like milk. It is just a matter of taste, nothing more. For years, I had felt somehow deprived that I didn’t have a taste for something that was clearly so beneficial. But as the evidence against milk mounted, I started feeling a sense of smug satisfaction — I figured that my taste buds had figured out a truth that I had not known. But I am sure that you are not interested in my dietary preferences. I bring this up only because the story of milk illustrates a number of deeper issues.

The first lesson is that it is possible for people to believe something sincerely and yet to totally mistaken. The second lesson: commercial interests motivate many to maintain a falsehood in the face of mounting evidence. Third, the world is connected and therefore even if you don’t directly promote harmful activities, even seemingly innocuous activities can indirectly cause suffering. Fourth, sometimes a proposed cure can aggravate the situation. Fifth, what appears to be a well established ancient practice could well be a relatively recent result of the modern way of living. Sixth, it is not easy but eventually with due diligence, researchers figure out what are the causes of a problem. That is, empirical studies reveal truths that are not analytically tractable. Seventh, the power of advertising and marketing is immense and can brainwash people into believing whatever the commercial interests dictate.

Enough of the editorializing. Here are the relevant articles. The first one is a two-part report in the Guardian: Diary Monsters – part 1, and part 2. A few excerpts below the fold.
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Virgle

You know that some people just naturally think big. Like Richard Branson and the google guys, Larry and Brin.

[Click on image for link.]

An invitation.
Earth has issues, and it’s time humanity got started on a Plan B. So, starting in 2014, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.

[Sorry, this should have gone up yesterday.]