Sunday, May 26, 2013


Two-and-a-half quintillion (18 zeros!)
 -- The number of new data bytes
Generated every day.
Yet our inferences
About our world
Are often incorrect.

Here's an example
Of inappropriate use
Of information.
We look at outliers
Like Bill Gates
And conclude that
Is unessential for us average beavers.
Inappropriate use of information.
Even irresponsible.

For most originating from
Middle and low income families,
Lifetime earnings are higher
With high school diplomas and college degrees
Than without.
And nothing replaces the
Broadening of horizons;
Exposure to diversity of views
That come with general education.

Yes, life is more than our earnings,
But not everybody finds opportunities
To travel;
Move in social circles
Inherently different from theirs; Or
Learn leadership qualities
Without access to formal education.

Don't be a sceptic.
Your education
As well as
That of others.
Say yes
To good,
Public Education.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wildlife vs. people (natives vs. tourists)

With her last statement, the writer, Akhila Vijayaraghavan, undoes every previous argument for ecocentric, non-anthropocentric approach to conservation: With the state of Madhya Pradesh already on the map for a sizeable tiger population, it could soon become the only state in India with both the big cats *which would make it an exciting visit for wildlife enthusiasts.*  Emphasis mine.  Access the article here.

Compare with the words of Neha Sinha, whose op-ed Vijayaraghavan is highlighting. "Placing the persistence of species at its heart, the judgment calls for directives based on an ‘eco-centric approach’ and not a human or anthropocentric approach. Combined with the idea of doing what is best for the species, rather than the whims of policies, planning and politics, the judgment makes a powerful call for a new conservation paradigm, based on both science and ethics, for our most threatened species.”

Despite our best intentions, we always have an eye on our benefits as humans, however, tangible or intangible.  Until the next study comes along and quantifies the cumulative effects of well-meaning wildlife visits, we will continue to believe visits as benign activities while local dwelling as exploitative.  My generation (of wildlife enthusiasts) was brought up with the thought that if you bring people to the wildlife, people will find value enough to want to conserve these species.  But I don't know...Maybe the new paradigm in justifying, planning, arguing for conservation should be to value species and habitat protection whether or not non-local people get to see them.

Contrast with the story of relocation of a whole village.         

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How much critical mass of scientist potential results in one award-winning young scientist?

Facebooker 1: Why can't we invent something like that [American teen who won the Intel award for creating an energy storage device that can charge cell phones in 20 seconds so we don't have to pause between text messages]?
Facebooker 2: We are not THAT smart.
Facebooker 3: You are smarter than you think. Unless you put limits on yourself. Your brain will believe it.

Eavesdropping Facebooker 4, which is moi, can't keep some thoughts to herself.  So, here, they tumble out:

The constraints do not come from individuals imposing limits on their own smartness, but from governments and societies passing up organized opportunities to tap into their citizens' smartness.  If every country, every government, every society, invested in and developed the collective potential of their peoples, then more 18-year-olds across the globe will have solutions to problems most pressing to them and their neighbors--and this may or may not include a focus on charging cell phones on the go.

And if you have not heard that Ionut Alexandru Budisteanu, 19, of Romania, won the Gordon E. Moore Award for using artificial intelligence to create a viable model for a low-cost, self-driving car, don't feel bad.  You are not alone.  I am with you.  I was so taken up by the promise of charging my ever-dead cell phone in 20 seconds in the near future that I did not dig up the news story that promises freedom from having to drive myself on the interstate.  Thank you, Romania, for investing in *your* smart and thoughtful teen.