Weekend Flea Market 5-Oct-07

An assort­ment of stuff I came across in cyber­space, offered sec­ond hand, for any­one who may be inter­est­ed.

  • If you haven’t read it already, Thomas Friedman’s penul­ti­mate op-ed 9/11 Is Over, is a must-read.
  • Chi­na has now start­ed block­ing all RSS feeds as well.
  • A woman has been sen­tenced to death by ston­ing in Iran for com­mit­ting adul­tery. Kaman­gir and a group of Iran­ian blog­gers are try­ing to stop that from hap­pen­ing.
  • Microsoft launch­es Health­Vault, an online repos­i­to­ry where con­sumers can store med­ical infor­ma­tion for free in an encrypt­ed data­base. For once, Microsoft beats Google to some­thing!
  • Ashok talked about “Col­lec­tive Intel­li­gence” in the com­ments dis­cus­sion on my post “Run­away Train”. Techcrunch reveals that a new site, Crowd­Chess, has launched. You log on and sign up for a game. Each side is made up of teams of dozens, hun­dreds or even thou­sands of peo­ple. Any­one on a team can sug­gest the next move, and the move that gets the most votes is the one that is played out. Like Erick, I too won­der if any num­ber of ama­teurs can ever beat a grand­mas­ter in this sce­nario! What do you think?
  • MMP has his own insight­ful analy­sis of why he blogs. He has devel­oped an inter­est­ing uni­ver­sal mod­el that shows how we all live in blog­ging CAVES. Check it out.
  • Check out Ashok’s take on the var­i­ous cat­e­gories of Indi­an blog­gers to have a healthy laugh at The Blo­gos­phere Zoo­pe­dia.
  • A US Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee has passed the Free Flow of Infor­ma­tion Act. There is still a long way to go and final out­come seems uncer­tain at this stage. See Are Blog­ging Jour­nal­ists Shield­ed? for back­ground infor­ma­tion.
  • The Econ­o­mist paints a sor­did and bleak pic­ture of the chal­lenges involved in revamp­ing Mum­bai. A must-read if you care about Mum­bai.
  • Finan­cial Times puts Rahul Gandhi’s first pop­ulist action after ascend­ing to the Con­gress sec­re­tary­ship as the back­drop to describe how polit­i­cal short-ter­mism is ham­per­ing retail reforms.
  • I had pon­dered on a few ques­tions regard­ing cricket’s sta­tus in India in my 10 Thoughts on T20 World Cup Win post. Social psy­chol­o­gist Ashis Nandy has some inter­est­ing answers in his inter­view with Out­look mag­a­zine. He says there are only three areas of our life—cricket, cin­e­ma (Bol­ly­wood) and crime that rec­og­nize capa­bil­i­ty whole­heart­ed­ly and uncon­di­tion­al­ly.
  • I have writ­ten about the con­tempt of court rul­ing regard­ing Jus­tice Sab­har­w­al. Vin­od Mehta brings greater clar­i­ty to the issue and wise­ly cau­tions that if the media and the judi­cia­ry engage in a war, the only win­ners will be the politi­cians.
  • To bring this pot­pour­ri full cir­cle back to the US, Rajin­der Puri takes on a lot of con­tro­ver­sial issues in his take on the decline of the US. Some of his com­ments res­onate with Shefaly’s com­ments in the dis­cus­sion on Right To Free Speech: What does it mean?.
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  • Mahen­dra: Isn’t it great to have Fried­man free again? 🙂

    Re The Onion: as I am fond of say­ing, “Der Zweibel ent­fer­nt allen Zweifel” (the Onion removes all doubt!).

  • Nice col­lec­tion.…
    Free Flow of Infor­ma­tion Act is a start, I am opti­mistic.

  • Crowd­chess — can a large group of ama­teurs beat a grand­mas­ter. No. The con­di­tions for col­lec­tive intel­li­gence are not met.

    1) Each per­son acts inde­pen­dent­ly
    2) The effect of everybody’s choice is some­how summable/aggregatable to pro­duce a greater-than-sum-of-parts effect, so there­fore each per­son brings a slight­ly dif­fer­ing per­spec­tive.

    1) is met. 2) is not. A demo­c­ra­t­ic vote ( a sim­ple max­i­ma) is not nec­es­sary wis­dom of crowds. wikipedia on the oth­er hand is.

  • She­faly: Absolute­ly! I know there are many crit­ics of Fried­man, but what­ev­er I’ve read and seen of him so far has impressed me.

    Some­times I won­der if his vocif­er­ous crit­ics real­ly under­stand him or whether they’re real­ly out to gain some cheap pub­lic­i­ty out of crit­i­ciz­ing some­one famous like him?

    Is that your own quote regard­ing the Onion? If so, I must say you’ve many lay­ers just like an Onion…

    Oemar: I’m afraid I don’t share your opti­mism. This act seems doomed by the oppo­si­tion by the Bush admin­is­tra­tion.

  • Ashok: Thanks for clar­i­fy­ing your con­cept of ‘col­lec­tive intel­li­gence’. I’ve pre­ferred respond­ing to your clar­i­fi­ca­tion in my orig­i­nal post on the Run­away Train.

  • I like this idea of a fri­day flea mar­ket. Tick­les the brain. thanks mahen­dra.

  • Mahen­dra: Thanks. I some­times agree with TF, some­times not. In my expe­ri­ence, many crit­ics often do not read what they are cri­tiquing so they go from cri­tiquing to crit­i­cis­ing.. (An exam­ple is book reviews on Ama­zon; one can eas­i­ly tell who read the book and who read the bub­bles on the back cov­er!).

    Yes that is indeed my own quote. I like word play in lan­guages. It can get awk­ward.. If some­one is say­ing some­thing and I see the humour in it, because I see that expres­sion in Ger­man or Hin­di or French, I can embar­rass peo­ple by laugh­ing out aloud. Much explain­ing has to fol­low 🙁


  • Nita: Thanks! I won­der how many folks like this idea…

    She­faly: You do not have to pre­fix and suf­fix each com­ment with a Thanks on my blog! 🙂

    You are so right: going from cri­tiquing to crit­i­ciz­ing!

    So apart from hav­ing lived in 20 coun­tries, you’re a mul­ti-lin­gual mas­ter too! Wow…

  • Mahen­dra: When I was a child, my father taught me a dit­ty:

    Hearts like doors
    Will open with ease
    With very, very lit­tle keys
    And don’t for­get
    That two of these
    Are ‘I thank you’ and ‘if you please’.

    I remem­ber it and prac­tise it con­stant­ly. Alas, habits die hard.

    I notice some of my friends — and now read­ers — find it odd that I do it. But as they say, the girl can’t help it.

    Thanks for your under­stand­ing.

    PS: It is 20 cities around the world, not 20 coun­tries. I hate mov­ing house — and hard­er with so many books — so that would tru­ly have dri­ven me mad… 🙂

    I am not a mas­ter but I aim to improve con­stant­ly. Read­ing poet­ry and lis­ten­ing to German/ French rap is still not easy.

    As I men­tioned once to Nita, since I grew up where I did, my first lan­guage was marathi. Now it is gone! Poof! I can say a few things and I can com­pre­hend much more but noth­ing else. So you see I am not a mas­ter of any sort!

  • She­faly: that is quite a cute and pro­found one! 🙂

    Entschuldigen Sie bitte…Tula Marathi yeta he mala mahi­ti nhav­ta!