Jun 29th, 2006 by ravi
Google Checkout


The latest thing from Google: Google Checkout. An e-commerce (what a quaint old term ;-)) payment system. One nice feature I notice is that Google will help anonymize your email address.

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Jun 27th, 2006 by ravi
LTTE regrets Rajiv Gandhi

So the LTTE is in a bad spot now and wants the Indian govt to step back into the conflict in Sri Lanka. And just as in Kashmir, the people are stuck in the middle of this terrorism from all sides, and I doubt any new IPKF will do better than the previous one. A weakened LTTE, in the absence of all other Tamil representation which they so meticulously eliminated, will be only more encouragement for the Sri Lankan government.

I can remember the headier days of the LTTE, when Prabhakaran and his entourage lived in upscale houses in the street adjacent to my own, and the occasional bloody streetfights in Pandi Bazaar or elsewhere (not to forget the bomb threat we received by postcard, one fine day!)… and wondering how this would all end 20 years later. And it is now 20 years later, and it seems to be much the same.

FT.com – Sri Lanka rebels express regret over slaying of Rajiv Gandhi
By Jo Johnson in New Delhi

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas last night expressed "deep regret" over the assassination in 1991 of Rajiv Gandhi, then Indian prime min-ister, and called for a "new relationship" with India in which New Delhi would play an active role in resolving the island's ethnic conflict.

The unprecedented statement, made in a televised interview by Anton Balasingham, the Tamil Tigers' chief negotiator, reflects the separatist group's increasing isolation following the European Union's decision last month to follow India, the UK and the US in putting it on a list of banned organisations.


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Jun 27th, 2006 by ravi
The Viagra Rush

So old right-wing druggie Limbaugh is on the drugs again. You just can't keep this man down, can you?

CNN.com – Viagra threatens Limbaugh plea deal
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) — Rush Limbaugh could see a deal with prosecutors in a long-running prescription fraud case collapse after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his bag at Palm Beach International Airport. The prescription was not in his name.


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Jun 26th, 2006 by ravi
Such a thing as a free Buffett?

Sometimes it feels OK to be just a regular liberal rather than a revolutionary leftist! Yes, this is still the same old crappy system of inequity, but at least in currently possible world terms, its good news:

Buffett gives $30 billion to Gates | Reuters.co.uk
By Robert MacMillan and Mark McSherry

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warren Buffett, the world's second-richest person, is donating about $37 billion (20.3 billion pounds) — more than 80 percent of his fortune — to foundations run by his friend Bill Gates and by the Buffett family.

The move is the biggest-ever single act of charitable giving in the United States.


The Gates foundation is one of the world's richest philanthropic organizations.

It has committed millions of dollars to fighting diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries, and to education and library technology in the United States.


However, Wall St no likey charity:

MSNBC: Berkshire stock falls after Buffett charity move

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shares fell Monday after Chairman Warren Buffett said he would give most of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other charities.

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Jun 23rd, 2006 by ravi
More on 2004 Election Fraud


In an earlier post I quoted an article in Salon by Farhad Manjoo, which criticized RFK Jr's Rolling Stone article on the 2004 POTUS election fraud in Ohio. Manjoo offered up some rather snide criticisms of Kennedy's reasoning. Now there are a few responses to Manjoo, some in a similar vein to his own ;-).

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Jun 20th, 2006 by ravi
Von Hoffman on Larry Summers

Von Hoffman gives it to Larry Summers, in the New York Observer. I quote the juicy bit, but read the rest at the link for a pretty decent analysis of Summers' nonsense:

NYU Stern: NYO: Beyond the Gender Issue, What’s the Deal at Harvard?


So does this pointless blather make Larry Summers an idiot? No, it makes him an economist, which is not quite the same thing. Mr. Summers, of course, has won himself a reputation as a barbarian—that is, one who is both ignorant of and incapable of enjoying what the humanities have to offer—but he is a smart barbarian, and a thoughtful one. Although a lot of people are furious with him, we are not looking at a bad man, only a wild man, backed to the hilt by powerful interests—a man who should be listened to, if only for our own self-protection.


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Jun 18th, 2006 by ravi
RSS reader: Alesti

Tired of Google reader's lack of "mark all read"? Or Bloglines' or NewsGator's poor use of real estate? Not happy with any of the RSS clients? I heartily recommend Alesti, an on-line newsfeed aggregator. Not only does it cover the important basic features, but these guys seem to actually have a clue (no insult to my talented buddies at Google, whose reader I quite like except for the missing "mark all read"). If you find an important feature missing, you can be sure that the Alesti team will not only clairvoyantly figure it out, but will have it implemented in short order.

The things I like about it:

  • Web based, so you can read from any computer, anywhere.
  • Fast, fast, fast
  • Tags for feeds
  • OPML import (but that's a standard for all readers, these days)
  • Intuitive/traditional interface
  • Appropriate links at every point (reduces mouse travel)

The last point is worth expanding on: If you read a decent number of feeds, one thing that might be of importance for you is to be able to scan through them at a fast clip. The UI of your reader can make a big difference here. For example, if you need to bring up a context menu (right-click) to "mark all read" that's extra work. Alesti gets a lot of this right. There is a "mark all read" right at the top of the article list. There is a "launch in new window" link next to each article title. And so on!

Its a fairly new service (I think) and its still a bit rough around the edges, but quite usable. And it shows a lot of promise.

[I say RSS but I think Alesti supports most forms of syndication]

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Jun 14th, 2006 by ravi
BJP fights kindergarten imperialism!

[via RawStory] 

Guardian | Indian state bans Baa Baa Black Sheep
Maseeh Rahman in Delhi
Wednesday June 14, 2006

Tens of thousands of children at Indian schools have been told they can no longer sing popular English nursery rhymes such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

In an attempt to rid schools of what is perceived as malign western influence, the school education minister in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Narottam Mishra, has commissioned a new set of rhymes written by Indians to "infuse a sense of patriotism" among five-year-olds.


This is not the first time that the Hindu nationalist BJP has stirred a controversy by tinkering with the school curriculum. In neighbouring Gujarat state, school textbooks were rewritten to categorise religious minorities including Muslims, Christians and Parsis as "foreigners" and to extol aspects of Nazism and fascism. A social studies textbook in Gujarat said: "Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time, establishing a strong administrative set-up."

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Jun 14th, 2006 by ravi
Why We Fight

[via J on LBO]

You can watch the trailer and movie bits from "Why We Fight" at the following links:

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Jun 14th, 2006 by ravi
Mallory inches closer to summit

Thorough sentimentalist that I am, I have always believed that Mallory (and Irvine) made it to the top before Tenzing Norgay and Hillary. Mallory's body was recently discovered a few hundred feet from the summit, reigniting the old debate. The news bit below is gratifying not only because it gives further credibility to the idea (of Mallory summitting) but also brings up an issue (read the entire article to see what I mean) that is a pet peeve of mine: that when we "solve" problems with modern technology, we almost always lose something ie., there is a very rosy-glow notion of technological progress that is at best naive. The connection: Graham Hoyland, who tried Mallory's "simpler" clothing on the Everest, found them in many ways preferable to the modern polythene stuff.  

BBC NEWS | Replica clothes pass Everest test
By Janine Ainley

The results of a unique experiment on Mount Everest confirm that the clothing of the 1924 climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine would not have prevented them from reaching the summit, as many had believed.

The findings are a step closer to proving the men could have reached the top, 29 years before Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary.


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