Tag Archives: Top ten list

How to have a great Doomsday: Another Top Ten list

Great thought needs to be put into proper planning for the Doomsday. It matters little whether the Doomsday is near or not, proper planning for such an important day in our lives is sheer common-sense. We would feel silly, spending the last evening of our lives watching soaps on the telly or updating our fb status with something silly like ‘love conquers all’ or ‘have a great day’. I propose the following with the aim of having a perfect doomsday – a doomsday to remember for the rest of our after-lives.

  1. Put George Bush(Jr) back into the White House. That would help the ‘fireworks’ department. The guy knows how to setup a spectacular show, and can rope in the CNN for a live.
  2. Make George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and of course Roland Emmerich (of the 2012 fame) the masters of the ceremony. They know how to get the event done up in style. We do not want a damp-squib show at the climax.
  3. Plan the main event in one of the European cities. Paris, London or Berlin, (or even Madrid or Athens). That would be a great backdrop for the Doomday. Manhattan, however spectacular, would be boring since we have seen the city hit by disasters too many times on the silver screen.
  4. Advertise the event/day properly on all media, and hint a sequel. Cast some great celebs in the promos. That will grab attention, and lend positive vibe to the event. I propose we rope in Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, Monica Bellucci and Justin Bieber for the main event and the promos. Leak stories on what they would be wearing on the D-day, where they would like to spend their last evening, and with whom.
  5. Leave out the third world from the event. (Even if D-day hits the third world they would not know any difference from their daily existence. There is a chance that the D-day may not be too comprehensive, and may ignore the third world. Cockroaches and rats too are slated to survive.) In any case, most TV stations in the third world would relay live the Reuters feed of the event, and will feel for the tragedy that shall befall the rich and the famous.
  6. Plan a lot of flights to Moon and Mars for the super-rich. No one on these flights will survive, but it would be the last hurrah for the rich, the last stab of snobbery, the last injection of jealousy that they will give to the rest of the world.
  7. Call a UN General Assembly meet to decide on the goals for the next millennia.
  8. Plan the D-day on a holiday. It would be no fun to watch the D-day from the office window, trying to justify the shortfall in sales target, or to reach home, tired and depressed, to find that all that you did in the day does not matter. (In any case most of what you do in office does not matter, but D-day would rip off the façade and makes office work seem even more useless.)
  9. Keep the cult leaders, gurus, priests, Doomsday experts at bay. They are likely to be pretty irritating on that day with their ‘I told you so’ and ‘repent in leisure’ and ‘pray for forgiveness’ type of rant. They would hog the limelight, and be too verbose. In any case ‘sin throughout life and ask for forgiveness at the end’ is a pretty dastardly approach to after-life. Be a man – be ready to face the consequences of living the high-life, to give a plausible explanation for your sly affairs and your smart schemes that are likely to be dubbed as ‘cheating’ by the holy account keepers.
  10. Do invest in falling stock market. This is a contrarian advice, but well considered. If the D-day fizzles out for some reason (Geroge Bush for example), you would hit a jackpot. If D-day is a hit, money would cease to matter in any case, so practically you would lose nothing.

As you can see, this is a well thought-out, practical plan for what would undoubtedly be a very important day for the world. It amazes me that so little has been done so far. There is, in any case, no harm in being prepared – doomsday will strike, sooner or later, the way we are hurtling towards a total economic-social-ecological collapse, fully conscious, determined and with a single minded devotion.

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Ten ideas that are going to change the world, again

The world is changing fast, but you haven’t seen nothing yet. The good news is, the world that we know is likely to morph into something quite different within our lifetime.

The mobile and internet revolution happened in our lifetime – it started in the mid eighties and has had a tremendous impact in the lives of almost everyone on the globe. Now the next wave shall be dominated by revolution in energy sector, biological sciences and of course electronics. But I will also nominate a social-science phenomena that I think shall be significant.

Futurologists are studying trends scientifically. But books by visionaries like Orwell (1984), H.G.Wells (The first man in the moon, The world set free), Jules Verne (From earth to the moon, Thousand leagues under the sea) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) were science fiction-y, bleak and quite accurate.

The ideas selected are just on the verge of practical application. For cross-verifying the truth, just research the internet – you would be amazed at the amount of information already available on these topics.

 1.           Cars will run on water

Ratan Tata dreams of cars running on water: Scientist
PTI, Jan 1, 2011
Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata’s dream is to see cars run on water and he has invested USD 15 million in a start-up firm supporting research in the field, an eminent scientist said today. Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Prof C N R Rao said one of his close friends and a professor in the famed Massechusetts Institute of Technology in the US has found a way to split water directly into hydrogen and oxygen….

The dream and hoaxes related to cars running on water have been with us for the last half century. The logic is simple – split water into hydrogen and oxygen and use them as fuels. It shall be the ultimate cheap and environment-friendly fuel. The problem has been, it was easier said than done. But now, I believe, with hydrocarbons reserves nearing their end, there shall be renewed effort to make the dream possible.

2.           Driverless Cars

The U.S. state of Nevada passed a law in June 2011 concerning the operation of driverless cars in Nevada. Google had been lobbying for driverless car laws. The Nevada law went into effect on March 1, 2012, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles issued the first license for a self-driven car in May 2012. The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google’s experimental driver-less technology.

While on cars, here is another revolution in the pipeline – automatically driven cars. Google is investing in the technology and hopes for early commercialization.

The concept is not as weird as it sounds now – in fact, once driverless cars become a vogue, we would find the idea of ‘driving’ strange, barbaric  and cumbersome. Imagine, properly programmed cars, running efficiently as per traffic rules. DO NOT imagine bad programming, programme crashes or that the car computers ‘hangs’ in the middle of the road.

3.           Mind reading machines

Mind-reading breakthrough hailed by US scientists
February 02, 2012
A machine capable of deciphering people’s thoughts could become a reality thanks to a breakthrough by US neuro-scientists. Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley developed a technique to record and decode patients’ brainwaves and translate the electrical activity into words.

  

Radiotelepathy
Freeman Dyson, physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
The futurist expects a burgeoning field of neurology to result in radiotelepathy, “the direct communication of feelings and thoughts from brain to brain. The ancient myth of telepathy, induced by occult and spooky action-at-a-distance, would be replaced by a prosaic kind of telepathy induced by physical tools.”

I expect the mobile phone industry to be the first to implement the thought reading technology. This is mainly because of the intense competition and money involved in the industry and also because of the strides made in neuro-sciences.

The implications are mind-boggling, but not all of them are pleasant. How, for instance, would you password-lock your brain waves. If, and I think there will be, there would be mind-reading machines, control over humans could be greater and intrusive.

 4.       Artificial heart

 
New lease of life: Plastic heart helps escape death
August 3, 2011 | PTI
LONDON: Surgeons claim to have carried out a ground-breaking artificial heart transplant operation on a 40-year-old man, suffering from end-stage failure of both chambers of his heart. During a six-hour successful operation, surgeons at Papworth Hospital in the UK replaced Matthew Green’s damaged heart with a device that they say will serve the role of both ventricles and heart valves.

 

Heart is actually a mechanical devise, and more readily created in the lab than other parts. The problem has been the human body, which rejects all external things. The scientists are fast overcoming this resistance, and like artificial valves and pace-makers, full artificial hearts are around the corner.

5.           Human Cloning, stem cell research and Cancer research

Scientists replicate natural cloning in world first
Breakthrough by team from Prague has human implications
May 2, 2012 Eva Peňázová
Scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences have discovered the secret to natural cloning, a revelation that could have future implications for replicating human organs.
 

Medical science is on the verge of two important breakthroughs – victory over cancer and AIDS. Further ahead is the brave world of stem cell research and human cloning.

Cloning has been a morally contentious issue, and there are laws banning research in the field. But, going by the news items on the net, research in the field continues unabated. I believe, this technology is easy to master, and its implications are positive in the field of medical aid. These researches are likely to help us by the time we reach old age.

6.           Genetic engineering to stop aging

Scientists Find Genetic Engineering Technique Reverses Effects Of Aging In Mice
November 3, 2011
Darren J. Baker and Jan M. van Deursen working at the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic said they had succeeded in disrupting the natural aging of cells through a breakthrough in genetic engineering. In their work, the scientists affirmed they had manipulated senescent cells, which are believed to spur the aging of tissues. By cleansing the body of such cells, researchers are hoping they can stave off the deleterious effects of aging, The New York Times reports. 

It is hardly likely that the scientists are worried about the aging mice. You get the point – the break-though has a human implication. And given the desperate desire to stop aging, the commercialization of the techniques are likely to be faster than you think. I do not, however, expect popping pills or getting procedures done to stop the spread of my greying hairs. Or will I?

7.           Moon tourism

 A Desert Town on the way up
Kenneth Chang/The New York Times/ May 5, 2012
MOJAVE, Calif. The sign into town, slightly weathered, says “Gateway to Space!”
The mélange of small aerospace companies at Mojave shows that the ambitions of the New Space movement go far beyond serving as a delivery service for NASA.
Two of the companies are fronted by famous billionaires: Virgin Galactic is part of Richard Branson’s empire, while Stratolaunch is the brainchild of Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft. Stratolaunch is building two cavernous structures, a factory to build an airplane with the widest wingspan and a hangar to store it in. The airplane will be an airborne launching pad for a rocket.
 

A decade from now, the dream destination for the romantically inclined rich, is not likely to be beaches of Miami or the French Riviera – it will be Moon. Budget travel to Moon is the next logical step – be advised to take your own food as they will charge you a bomb on the rocket.

8.   Solar energy

 Better, Cheaper Solar Cells
The cost of photovoltaic cells (that turn sunlight into electricity) are coming down. In less than ten years the cost of solar energy could be at parity with the cost of electricity from the grid, and solar cells could be standard features in new residential construction. Your house could power itself about a third of the time.

 

Saudi Arabia Plans $109 Billion Solar Future
By 3p May 14th, 2012 
Saudi Arabia will seek investors interested in a $109 billion plan to generate power from solar energy. The ambitious plan calls for a long term goal of generating an entire third of the nation’s electricity from solar power by the year 2032.

 

The key point in both the news stories is that ‘one-third’ of all energy requirements shall be met by solar energy in the near future. Solar energy is the cleanest and shall have a positive impact on the planet. Also notice Saudis taking interest in the project – the hydrocarbon reserves are limited and shall end sometime in this century itself. The Saudis, with their deserts, are rightly positioned to keep dabbling in energy market.

9.           One world – decline of nationalism

Now for the social science break-through I promised. I shall not point towards any news story, but consider the following facts- increased global trade, increased global tourism, decrease in wars and success (yes, I stand by that) of European economic integration. Apart from the flashpoint of Middle East and Afghanistan, there are no significant ideological-political fault-lines to divide the world.

Internet and other communication technologies are bringing the people together. Rabindranath Tagore was pretty uncomfortable with the idea of nationalism – he found it divisive and limiting. Sri Aurobindo also predicted a global village, devoid of boundaries. But in reality, a global village shall not remain the dream of poets and mystics only.

I believe that even before we realize the change, we shall be living in a boundary-less village, with no global bureaucracy – and weak national governments.

10.               Digitalization of knowledge

With work going on to convert huge amounts of books and research papers into digital form, and because huge amounts of this digital data shall be freely available on the net, the pace of research in all fields of human endeavour shall increase exponentially. It will be like the invention of the printing press that changed the world surreptitiously.

However, to end, some words of caution.

  • There are some basic human factors like greed, hate, jealousy and love that will never change – ‘the more things change, the more they will remain the same’.
  • Not all changes will be good – many things will happen that will make us nostalgic for the good old days.
  • There would be disruptions because of climate change and increasing human population. There will be scarcity of drinking water in many parts of the world. Dissatisfaction over disparities will lead to greater localized violence.
  • Consider this from New York Times – “Albert Brooks, the actor and director, brought out “2030,” in which the nation’s economy is sent into a spin by seemingly good news: cancer is cured. The bad-news twist: the resulting drain on national resources by an aging population that no longer conforms to the actuarial tables and continues to consume resources at baby-boomer rates, and a rather literal twist on the notion of intergenerational warfare.”

Having said that, the balance sheet does not look too bad. The future is something to look forward to, if not downright rosy.

Do add to this list, or dispute the claims – it shall be fun hearing of more idea that will change our world, in our own lifetime!

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What is the next big idea that will move the world: A yet another top-ten list!

Tintin's illustration

 

The thesis of Clash of Civilizations and such other paradigms (there cannot be a ‘fraud-intellectual’ paper without the word paradigm) having failed to predict the next-big-idea that shall move the world, it is now up to me to give it a try. I shall not shy away from this duty. But to do so, I must, as a student of history, first make a top-ten list of the ideas that moved the world so far.

“Why a top-ten list,” you ask? “Why not,” is my answer. I love top ten lists.

Anyway, enough arguments. We must get to the brass-tacks now. Here is the list, in chronological order:

  1. Survival: For long this big idea ruled the world. It still does, but not as a ‘top-of-the-mind’ motive that drives the world. It was in the stable city states that came up after the creation of an agricultural surplus that gave man the luxury of indulging in the next big idea, which was…
  2. Religion: Or, to be more exact, an organized idea of religion with a priestly class. Religion, as distinct from God, is a creation of man (a well-fed idle man), who wishes to explain the world and predict the future (like me). The gathering riches in the temples and churches of early city states, and the war between the city-states led, slowly and inevitably, to creation of armies, which led to…
  3. Royalty: This simple but awesome idea was also supported by those motivated by survival and religion. It seemed to answer the question, ‘how to discipline the society’. From attributing Divine essence in the kings to justifying it through social contract theory, the idea and legitimacy of royalty had to be intellectually protected at various times. The bards sold themselves for a handful of silver, the priests sullenly agreed to cede top space in face of the armies, and the common people (who often got fed up with the royals) were sometimes suppressed and sometimes pampered. But the space at the top was too narrow. Poor man-management by the royals, sibling rivalries and the instigation of the priests led to the idea of…
  4. Feudalism: This gave more space at the top, though it fragmented the state from the size of a powerful empire to small states (sometimes under a benign umbrella of a weak empire). The feudals merrily fought each other (playing ‘battles’ was their hobby), exploited the serfs and kept the priests in good humor. An unforeseen result of this was the creation of too many aristocrats who had nothing to do between battles, and it was they who advocated the next big idea, which was…
  5. Enlightenment: Humanism, Scientific enquiry, resurgence of interest in arts and learning and books…the world went crazy for the intellectuals. Leonardo and Galileo, Erasmus and Voltaire…they were the pop stars of the late middle ages. They worked in Sanskritised languages like Latin or in the local dialects, leading, unwittingly, to…
  6. Nationalism: The idea of a country, so popular now, was not something that kept people awake even a few hundred years ago. Nowhere in the world was this idea popular, or seemed likely to attract much traction. And yet…It was the question of reorganizing the society in terms of identities that would help the royals once again free himself from the clutches of the other royals and the priests, that made nation states popular. Modern world starts with this mess. So powerful did the idea become, unchallenged as it was at the nascent stage, that it led to wars and something more powerful, that is….
  7. Greed: Or, to give its respectable name, the economic idea. Wealth of nations, colonialism, centralized banks, money economy…all the trappings of the modern world were quickly put into place by the advisers of the royalty, who, poor sods, believed that they would be getting more and more powerful with the gold that was being hoarded in the central treasuries. However, education was playing its insidious role of provoking an ever increasing numbers of the middle classes. They struck back into many forms, and as a generic title we can call the movement…
  8. Socialism: From strong move towards democratic ideals to ‘power back to the society’, the idea of society organizing itself without a royal at the head, took many shapes. Marxism to mild democratic socialism was the death-knell of the royals, but not of nationalism (Though Marxist-Lennists did try that hand). The fight for supremacy between nationalism, greed and social compact raged throughout the twentieth century in form of the Cold War, but with diminishing returns. Higher education, and mass media sought to bring back the ideals of the age of Humanism and Enlightenment, but the hotchpotch actually led to the age of the…
  9. Hippy: Rebelling against everything was the rage. Peaking during the second half of the twentieth century, the pop stars, the novelists, the intellectuals, the college students…in fact all those who did not have to worry about their next meal, indulged in rebelling against establishment, and in favour of…well anything. The youth, goaded on by the professors, rushed in to save the women, the environment and everything else that came in sight. They lived a life of ‘poverty-ridden hedonism’ a very original concept, since it suited the poor-rich generation. But soon they were bored and slowly turned to…
  10. Individualism: The individual as the centre of universe is not a new idea, but technology, security and adequate surpluses in the system gives us an opportunity to live out this idea too. Loyalty towards none but the self is the motto and the religion. It is an unabashed declaration of independence of individual from any institution. Live in relationships, individual greed, cross-national lifestyles – in short loyalty towards none.

Now that we have reached the present, we come to our basic question, what next?

An easy answer would be that since all the above tendencies simultaneously exist in the society today, and are vying for supremacy, one or the other would make a comeback of sorts. Now you understand why I said Clash of Civilizations idea was a flop? It was another rehash of old battles, and was not the next-big-thing. But that answer would hardly be intellectually satisfying.

I must admit that, as of now, I do not know. I assure you I will keep my eyes open, and, as soon as something interesting comes up, I would let you know. In the meanwhile, we may, if you wish, add to this awesome top-ten list, by filling in the gaping holes. Or give me an idea for yet another top-ten list.

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Choosing the right career: Top professions of our times (Another top ten list)

Times have changed – no really, I am not bluffing, this time they have. I have prepared a list of top ten get-rich-fast professions/careers, based on solid research. If I do not give actual examples and names along with this list, it is because, (a) everybody knows who the top dogs in each profession are, and how they have reached there, and (b) I want to live a little longer.

Now for the top ten get-rich-fast professions/careers:

1. Looters of the natural resources. These come in three basic categories- (a) Mining (including oil, coal and other minerals like iron ore, bauxite, aluminium and even stones!!), (b) land or real estate and (c) spectrum.

(Spectrum really came as a welcome addition to the scarce resources that can be looted with the help of the ruling class.)

The beauty of the game is that this looting provides a short cut to the No.1 businessman position and with it comes all trappings of respectability. You just cannot go wrong with this one, wherever in the world you are.

Earlier it was the sovereign right of the powerful nations to loot the natural resources (of anybody’s land), but now the political class has outsourced the process of looting to the crooks, who shall be called, from here on, businessmen.

2. The arms dealers. You cannot go too wrong with this one. Again, it is the political class which needs these middle-men, though I really do not understand why they do not cut the commission agents and directly deduct their ‘n’ percent.

3. The politicians. Left, right or centre, they are the ones who own the world. There is no need to be squeamish about the fact that they are the ‘rulers’ and the rest of us are the ‘ruled’. This profession is open to all in a democracy, and there should not be unnecessary jealousy about their riches. It may however surprise some that they figure third on this list. I feel that the average income of this class is being reduced by the cranky do-gooders, the honest types, the self-appointed world changers. Also, the Return on Investment is also unfavorable compared to the two categories mentioned above.

4. The celebrity. Not an actor, not a rockstar – it is the celebrity that has it all. Here, some examples would clear the picture – Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Poonam Pandey, Rakhi Sawant. Predominently female, this tribe has mastered the art of raking in the moolah without doing anything. To launch this career with a sex-tape, or even with a hint of one, can only be a work of a genius, or a ‘celebrity’. Since there is no investment involved, the RoI is infinite.

5. Pimping and drug peddling: Now this is not as bad as it sounds. Think of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Sounds better already? Think of any huge metropolis, and the shiny Mercs. I am told half of them are owned by pimps and drug peddlers. Sounds even better now? The whole ball game is to play it at the right level, on the proper scale. Include lateral branches of this business – sports betting, casinos, escort services, and providing odd assistance to the four categories that precede this one, and you know that there will never be an off-season for this class of professionals.

6. Doctors: Aligned with the health insurance guys, the doctors are rocking and rolling (in money). That they figure below the drug peddlers is again because of the crack-pots in their profession, who bring down the averages, by parking themselves in shanties and the villages and getting bit by mosquitoes for no apparent reason.

7. Lawyers: The traditional leaders of the pack have fallen into bad times, since the top five categories now maintain such good relations with each other that they do not need to meet each other in the law courts much these days. But when they do, there is the black-coat to see to it that the wealth is equitably re-distributed.

8. The Social media owners: A small and exclusive class that rules the world by pampering to people’s egos. Killing the publishing industry, and taking over the gaming industry are their main hobbies. They have an eye on the movie industry and the mobile industry also. Too bad there is scope for only a few here.

9. The new age Gurus: Needed by all the above and also the rest of greedy mankind, the Gurus are laughing all the way to the banks. Yoga, meditation, or simply washing off the sins – they have a long product line. They are branching off to healing and spas, rehabilitation and old-age services these days. The land of the Gurus, India, is exporting their services at a good rate, and the country’s balance of payment is probably helped by the remittances by these Gurus, or donations to them by the ‘poor’ rich of the West.

10. Coaching centres: Not education. This field is different. It is the bye-product of an overpopulated world. They promise survival and are the last recourse for the hungry middle class youth. They are the hyenas who feed on the carcass of society, if we may use imagery from the ‘laws of the jungle’.

As a word of caution, I shall end with a list of absolute NO-NO careers if you want to make it good:

  • Farming, unless you are fed up with the world and want an excuse to commit suicide,
  • Manufacturing – no one does it in the West now. It is way too messy and old fashioned, and
  • Teaching, Writing, Science, Researching – These are now at par with the call-centre jobs in terms of return on investment, so be very careful with people who seek to inspire you to take up these noble professions.

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