Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Groundbreaking Dutch study links overeating with obesity !!!

How many Dutch scientists do you know, or have even heard of? I can name only one - Christian Huygens, but then he was more a speculator than a scientist. When the Europeans and the Americans were busy discovering electricity, gravitation, photons, X-rays, black holes, vaccination, solar systems and automobiles, the Dutch largely remained quiet, occasionally breaking their technological silence with an odd invention like the device to slice beetroot or the paperweight. But just after the late 1980s, when the scientific community reached a more or less stable state and new inventions became increasingly hard to come by, it appeared as though we were finally exhausted from running hard in the African jungles, and had stopped for a breather only to find ourselves surrounded by cannibals armed with spears and poison darts. And just when we were staring at each other with open mouths in deathly silence, sweating, panting and without a clue as to how to escape from the awkward situation, the Dutch arrived accompanied by a loud din, crashing in sideways in a flurry of flying test tubes and slide rules, burying everyone neck deep in a pile of reseach papers. The next thing you'd expect them to do would be stand up and look around quickly, dust their coats and announce that they were alright.

The volume and quality of research output from The Netherlands has, in recent days rattled the whole scientific machinery, with such breathtaking revelations about the myriad workings of the universe as:

Friday the 13th is not unlucky.

Customers return the products that they can't use.

Children of lesbian couples are like other children.

When people play loud music, they are aware of it.

Drugs are good.

If you eat chocolate, you will live to be 140.

Drugs are good.

Even though twins look the same, they are different people.

When people don't want to quote the exact source of a stupid and obscure scientific finding, why do they always start with "Researchers in the Netherlands have found that..."? Who are these Researchers in Netherlands, and what else have they found out? Has anyone ever bothered to investigate? Do such people really exist, or are they just a stereotype? Short bespectacled men in white labcoats and miner's helmets, holding clipboards, hunched over a mouse cage, taking notes, pretending to be interested.


Look at that picture. Why do those people need labcoats, gloves, shower caps, safety glasses and gas masks to read what's written on a clipboard? Even if it was a sinister noxious-gas emitting clipboard, why is only one person wearing that gas-mask? Doesn't the older man care about his safety? Maybe he is a seasoned old veteran who has seen it all. Even if poisonous gases are emitted, does the scientist on the left really think that the flimsy piece of cloth can save him from the resulting slow and gruesome death? Why are they wearing shower caps? Because they don't want the hazardous clipboard to catch dandruff? Even if you concede that it is a fair thought, why is the man on the LEFT wearing it? He doesn't even have any hair!

Do these chimpanzees really think they can outwit the micro-organisms by wearing silly hats? Who are these people and what exactly are they doing in the picture? Are they even real scientists?

What are those clowns discussing, anyway? The effect of Korean hip-hop music on the embryo of a platypus? The correlation of a graph that links teenage pregnancy with political turmoil in Chechnya?Why do all laboratory accessories come only in white? Won't purple labcoats work just as well?

Recently a team of researchers in Netherlands found that Fluoride in drinking water increases the risk of hip fractures in women. A few months later, another study showed that the fluoridation/hip fracture link was not gender specific between high and low fluoride areas. Barely a few months later, another team from The Netherlands found that Fluoride has nothing absolutely to do with anything at all. A team of researchers studying the polar ice caps reported decreasing ice volumes. Another team of researchers studying the polar ice caps reported increasing ice volumes. Another study established that it is both increasing and decreasing. I am not kidding. The third, ground breaking study quoted "A change in one direction must be matched by a change in the opposite direction, in order to preserve physical harmony in the universe. The predicted result is that sea levels will both rise and fall, depending, of course, upon the perspective of the observer." Those are NOT my words. A scientific study found that fish oil is very beneficial for health. A Dutch study found that fish oil is not beneficial for health.

They really are kicking up some serious scientific dust in Netherlands, aren't they? (Doesn’t nether land mean hell or something?) They advise you to eat Brussels sprouts because it prevents cancer, and then they advise you against eating it because it causes DNA damage. They invent lithium batteries and Bluetooth headsets for cell phones and then warn you against the harmful effects of cell phone radiation. It always seems that research in The Netherlands is sponsored by two rival groups of corporate giants who want to prove each other's products unworthy. In fact scientific funding is so abundant in Netherlands, and the volume of research is so staggering that around 60% of the Dutch are scientists. The other 17 are drug peddlers and prostitutes.

What kind of questions do such findings answer? Who is asking those questions? What manner of scientific or intellectual thirst does it quench? Honestly, I cannot imagine the level of sheer desperation, or boredom that would drive a man towards a line of research such as that. What could it be? The belief that every other significant thing has already been discovered, and all that remains in the world to be done is establish beyond doubt that children who grow up with noisy neighbours tend to be socially inactive in their late 40s?

Please stop taking scientific research seriously. Don't believe anyone. Not especially those tarot-card readers and fortune tellers cleverly disguised as scientists in white labcoats. They are the scum of the scientific world, the disgusting creatures that live behind hinges and in dark corners. Never buy science from a person who seems to know what he is talking about. In science is sometimes wiser to trust a person who is clueless.

Seriously, if scientists hadn't fooled around with such useless research and focussed on the really important things, we might have already cured cancer, or eradicated hunger and poverty. The downside of it is that we might also have invented bigger, more powerful bombs...So maybe its good that the most resourceful minds in the world (not necessarily Dutch) are kept occupied with inventing ceramic cheese graters and talking coat-hangers. Maybe we can put off annihilation by a few more years.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crude Oil crisis - What the US should do.

Here are a few pointers for the policy-makers in the US govt on how to deal with the oil crisis.  As I see it, the US Govt has the following options to bring down the crude-oil prices back to sustainable levels.

1) Mount a covert operation to hide away all your motor vehicles for a month. Don't allow any cars or trucks on the roads. Plant false media reports that Toyota and Honda have independently invented teleportation, and the days of the automobile are past. Plant media reports that the Japanese car manufacturing giants have patented two designs of the teleportation machine and are undercutting each other's prices. Convince the world that internal combustion engines have been declared illegal and anyone found in possession with intent to use is being shot on sight. Make sure that TV reports show empty roads and airstrips for an entire month. Since the economy of the Arab nations and a large part of the former Soviet Union and Venezuela depends on Oil exports, and with no scope for export revenue, they will soon begin to panic. In a desperate attempt to save the motorcar (and hence their economy) they will be forced to approach your Government. They will be on their knees, begging you to take away all their oil reserves in return for few sandwiches. Take ownership of their oil fields, without seeming to be too keen. When its done, bring back your cars and airplanes, and resume your normal life.

2) All this fuss is over crude oil, which is essentially fossil fuel. Buried old carcasses of animals. So, logically the only reason Middle Eastern Asia is rich in oil reserves is because at one point of time, that region was the most populated in the world. It is too late to do anything about it now, but there is still hope. You can secure energy independence for your future generations. Start by encouraging immigration. Increase your population. Promote promiscuous inbreeding. Lift job curbs on migrant workers, promote immigration. Take in refugees. Adopt the biggest refugee camps in Africa, and bring them home. Encourage obesity in schools. Lift the ban on lard. Ban exercise instead. So, finally when the world plunges into a dark ice age, 3 billion overweight people will be buried under 5 miles of snow. Maybe a million years later, you might have a slight edge over the Middle Eastern countries. It may not be much of a chance, but under given circumstances, its the best you've got. Some economists I have spoken to seem to be of opinion that for world dominance, giving yourself 1 million years may be a tad pessimistic, which brings me to my next point.

3) Invade Saudi Arabia.

And Russia. And while you are at it, annex Iran, The United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Kuwait. Bomb the living daylights out of Canada and Mexico, and kill all refugees. Kill every man, woman and child in Venezuela, Norway and China. Simultaneously, using your air strike capabilities, capture Peru, Brazil and Siberia. Alaska is already yours but bomb it anyway, just to be sure. Bomb the hell out of Bering Sea, South China Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and carpet-bomb most of the Pacific Ocean, just to mark your territory. Seeing the trail of death and destruction, Algeria and Nigeria will throw up their arms in the air and surrender without a fight. You will then have undisputed control over 59 million barrels per day of supply and over 1189 billion barrels of oil reserves, besides a lot of cheap real estate.

4) Next, confiscate all automobiles in China, UK, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Russia and India. With no cars left in the 7 largest oil importers and with no human beings left to drive them anyway, the demand for crude oil would fall to near zero levels. Finish off the steel and fertilizer plants to do a thorough job. When oil suddenly becomes so cheap, nothing will stand in the way of your economic growth. More thermal power plants will flourish, cars will become bigger and faster, more space stations will be launched, more factories will be opened, clean energy projects will become prohibitively expensive and hence will be justifiably abandoned. Forests and polar ice caps will vanish and so will the sun - behind a screen of thick black smoke, which will give the earth perfect camouflage in outer space, so wandering alien space-settlements will accidentally crash into it, and the alien spectators will think its a black hole and will dutifully follow suit, doing what is expected of them, careful not to annoy the laws of physics; thus destroying whatever is left on earth. But what is buried under an ocean of rubble is a hundred billion tonnes of decaying human carcass, which would one day form the reason for another fine political engagement, thus setting it up nicely for a sequel.

On a lighter note, my grand-uncle recently told me that he drove from Kottayam, Kerala to Madras - a distance of 700km on a tankful of diesel in his Ambassador. It cost him Rs.45 in 1971. For Rs.45 these days, you cannot even crank an engine one revolution. I wish I could tell kids 30 years later that I travelled 700 km for Rs.45, but I don't want to. I love my planet too much to let petrol remain cheap.

If there is indeed a solution to the oil crisis, it's got to be one of these. Anything else is just a compromise. You have nuclear reactors and multi billion dollar auto industry backed researches into ceramic superconductors and ultra efficient electric-hybrid-DNA cars that run on love and sunshine. Those Sheikhs have nothing, just a few pipes stuck into the ground. What chance do they have? If with all the might of your atomic energy and nuclear science you couldn't put a few camel jockeys out of business, well you're pretty much screwed.

And that's all I have to say on that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Some more things about the universe that don't make any sense to me...

1) Why do they say "the ball is in your court"? The players are not playing on different courts, are they? Shouldn't they say "the ball is in your SIDE of the court"?

2) What do they mean when they say "3 different times"? Isn't "3 times" enough to convey the message? "I lost my pen 3 different times that day", as opposed to what, 3 same times?

3) Just because you make vernacular motion pictures in a certain town in India doesn't mean you have to name it after the biggest movie industry town in the world. The name of a movie town doesn't HAVE to rhyme with Hollywood. Bollywood! Its OKAY to just call it Hindi film industry. Same goes for Tollywood and Kollywood. The Bombay stock exchange is not called BASDAQ.

4) "Walking distance" is NOT a measure of distance. How the hell long is walking distance anyway? I could walk to the north pole if I had the time.

5) If you pay Rs.100 for this -

would you pay Rs.50 for this...?

Then can butchers just point at leghorn hens in the bushes and collect 50 bucks for each?

Oxygen!!   I need Oxygen!!!!

If you want Boeing to manufacture airliners with ceramic plumbing fixtures, stay off cereal.

Hunger Strikes. I could never really get a handle on the whole concept. It seems there is nothing these days that you cannot protest against by staying hungry. Two powerful nations make a deal to exchange atomic technology in a multi-billion dollar deal that can secure the energy-independence of a large part of the third world; Eastern European refugees are mercilessly slaughtered by soldiers armed with AK-47 assault rifles; Arch gravity dams are built by geotechnical engineers aided by the Government and secretly backed by major power corporations. You read about all this in the news and conclude that the world is upto no good, and decide to do something about it.

What do you do? Do you mobilize the power hungry masses of a deprived communist nation and start a revolution to overthrow the dictatorship? Do you mastermind a secret plot to assassinate the president of the United States of America? Do you thrust anti-aircraft guns and pepper spray into the hands of crane operators and paper mill workers and lead an invasion of the solar system? No. Instead you decide to skip lunch. And assure the media that you are not on a weight-loss diet.

I fail to understand how people can think that they can bring about a change by not eating. How do you combat persuasive political will and corporate greed? Quite literally by skipping lunch! It's a bit like hoping to ward off the Spanish armada, armed with a watermelon.

What do you think is going on behind those thick boardroom walls?

Politician 1: "Gentlemen, we have managed to secure the Government's approval for construction of the nuclear power plant. The project will be sanctioned in a couple of weeks. The reaction chambers are being assembled in Volgograd and the enriched Uranium ore is being loaded into an Ukrainian vessel in Shanghai even as we speak. Phase II of the project will go live in exactly 90 days from now, and within 6 months, our newly installed power plant would produce 11500 MW of power."

Politician 2: "That's great news! We are well on our way to becoming a nuclear superpower. Nothing can stop us now!"

Politician 2's sidekick (in a small voice): "Umm...there could be one small problem..."

(at this point deathly silence suddenly descends upon the room. There is a collective holding of breaths in the room, and the tension mounts)

Politician 2's sidekick nervously continues, "Well, uhh...umm... some environmentalist from Nagpur has not eaten since morning..."

(Everyone in the room gasps in horror, looks of disbelief all around.)

Corporate Mogul: " Oh No! Not THAT! Politician 1! How could you let this happen?! Our plan was supposed to be airtight! How could you let this happen?! What are we going to do now?! Our entire nuclear strategy is compromised now!"

Politician 1: "Honestly gentlemen, we didn't see this one coming. Since we, the Government and the corporate giants care deeply for the gastronomical well being of our social activists, this new and unforeseeable development leaves us with no alternative but to pull out of the deal. Delegates of the press, representatives of our corporate sponsors and representatives of the UN and the G5 nations, we apologize for the inconvenience. Bhel-puri is served in the stalls in the lobby, thank you for your time."

Seriously protesters, do you imagine boardroom conversations to be like that? Look at the situation objectively. In my rational opinion, no one would be hassled if you stop eating, unless they want to sell you popcorn. On the other hand, all considered, few things are more convincing and persuasive than the unfastened end of the barrel of a 5.56mm M4 carbine staring at your temple like a Nazi pit-bull. Hunger of course, is a mute statue compared with the persuasive eloquence of the immediate possibility of 30 rounds of a semiautomatic burst jostling for space with your larynx.

No one has ever died while fasting. It's a fact. Place that large heavy machine gun order before they find out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Men Are Back with a lot less

No Anti roll bars
No Limited Slip Differential
No twin-Garett Turbochargers
No Pirelli P-Zero semi slicks
No sodium-cooled titanium valves
No Dihedro-synchrohelic actuation gullwing doors
No Traction Control
No Active Suspension
No Seven-speed Sequential paddle shift gearbox
No Brembo high-performance discs
No carbon-fibre monocoque
No Electronic Launch Control
No rear spoilers, no Venturi ducts
No variable geometry engine intake
No Afterburners