Sunday, March 27, 2011

Japan's nuclear predicament

The recent Tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan recently, brought along with them another disaster, potentially even more devastating , the radiation leaks at multiple reactors. The full extent of the damage is not known (or at least known in the public domain).
On cue commentators of 2 types have leaped up to kick Japan while its down. The environment activists who view Nuclear energy as evil, at least have some intellectual honesty , when they go about criticising Japan for suffering the consequences of its pursuit of harnessing nuclear energy.  The second kind of critic , I find far more annoying and plain, mean spirited, are the type of critic , who points out how Japan, as a nation was so confident of its technology , but even their technology was no match for Mother Nature.
There is an undercurrent of glee in that observation, I cannot palate.
But I am going to address both , categories of critics..
With the invention of the internal combustion engine, and almost simultaneously that electricity..before the commencement of the 20th century, the world had been divided into the Haves and Have Not's of energy. With the end of the second world war , having your colonies supply your energy needs was no longer an option.
So for the last 70 years, countries like Japan, with no real energy resources, have been shipping over the money they earn by being amongst the most hard working and innovative people in the world, to countries like Saudi Arabia, so that they can keep their economies running..
Are the Japanese , not justified in at least trying to seek an alternative?
Especially in times, where  we fear the World Oil production has peaked..
What alternatives did Japan really have?
Go back to the stone ages?
They use a lot less energy per capita , when compared to America... (I haven't looked at the figures but anecdotal evidence, does bear out my assertion).
And as far as misplaced pride in their technology goes.. Why should they not be proud, they have certainly showed the world the way.. in many technologies endeavours, while there are many nations, whose only contribution to the world has been suicide bombers and child soldiers.
All this doesn't mean the Japanese are above criticism, but before you criticise , step back for a second, imagine that their compulsions are your compulsions and their circumstances are your circumstances.. Could anyone else have done a better job?

Donating to Japan

I recently donated to the Tsunami relief in Japan.. It got me thinking, since I had made no donation to Haiti. Haiti was clearly less capable than Japan, to take care of its own. So why did I donate to Japan and not Haiti?
 I don't know if I came up with the the right reasons, but here is what I have so far.
I have visited Japan, and feel a connection to the place, which I do not feel to Haiti. I have a great respect for Japan and the Japanese for the manner they powered themselves to the number 2 economy(until very recently) from the devastation of World War II.    
How many civilizations  have done so much with so little? 

The Turkish Getup

When Gray Cook mentions the Turkish Getup as the one free weight exercise he would recommend over any other, you pay attention. The mechanics of the move are best explained by the man himself. I have been dying to do this in the gym, but have been holding myself back, since I only had knee surgery a little over 2 months back..
Also this move has a lot of parts so after much youtube repeats, I finally tried it out at the gym... And though I topped out at the 18lb kettlebell, I can say I do not feel any ill effects.. I am definitely adding this to my routine.      

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The absurdity of complaining about US action in Libya

While the World watched, Col. Gaddafi, the despot who has ruled Oil rich Libya for close to 40 years, used an iron fist, and by some accounts , mercenaries, to crack down on dissidents, who threatended his hold over the North African nation.
Finally under the aegis of the UN , a no fly zone was finally imposed, so that Gadaffi , could not atleast use war planes against the over-matched rebels . As part of the effort to impose the no fly zone, it has been estimated, this would cost close to $800 million.
 Such spending has come in for criticism at home , where there is a new conciousness of the state of the deficit..
All this consternation, is at the very least perplexing and in my opinion misplaced.
Firstly, the reason why America, spends as much as it does on the military is to protect and project American interests abroad. If this was not the objective, America can get by spending the same as Canada and Mexico.
Some of the media attention on spending on the hostilities in Libya , has focused on the Tomahawk missiles (hundreds are being used).
I also saw an estimate on how much it cost to operate a military aircraft for an hour..
A couple of points need to be made here. Missiles have a shelf life.. If they are not used in a certain time frame, they will eventually have to be scrapped.
So firing off a tomahawk, is closer to using an egg once you have bought it , before it spoils.
Also what exactly do you believe the military does in peace time? They train and practice.Would anyone question the cost of operating military aircraft for such purposes in peace time?
Coming to think of it In have never heard a single protestation of the pointless fly pasts during the Superbowl.. Do you believe the NFL pays for that?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The $10.6 billion dollar question

For most of this decade, India has been  in the process of acquiring a 'Medium' Fighter aircraft in large numbers(approx 126). The size of this deal makes it the most eagerly anticipated decision(for the manufacturers in the fray)
But there are no easy options. Here are the drawbacks of each aircraft as I see it.
1. Eurofighter : at $100 million a piece, this might be too expensive.
2. Rafael: No way Rafael, wins this over the Eurofighter.
3. Saab Gripen: This might be a good solution, but Sweden is a politcial light weight
4. MIG-35: Does not find place in the Home Airforce (Russia)
5. and 6: F-16 and F-18: If we buy American and America turns around and supplies Pakistan with free airplanes to 'fight the taiban', I am not sure How we will live down that one.