Sunday, December 10, 2023

Book of Life - 5

The day came and went quickly. In the morning, there were so many things on the to-do list. By night, most of them were done. It's so rare that I was able to put a tick mark across most to-do items. However, in the night when I sat back and took stock of things, there was no sense of achievement. Was I chasing ghosts? Or was I eating the sweetest frog first instead adhering to Brian Tracy's counsel to confront the ugliest one first?

When I went through the articles about recent world events, an interesting pattern came to my attention. The first event was the climate summit (COP28) just finished in Dubai, and the second one was the cease-fire in Gaza. Regarding COP28, it was hosted by UAE, which is ironic because the summit aimed to save the world from increasing carbon emissions, and the UAE is one of the largest producers of fossil fuel. UAE's interest is aligned with the continuing use of fossil fuel. The irony didn't end there; the president of the summit also has a full-time job as the head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)!

The second event, the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, was brokered neither by the UN (the world organization supposed to stop wars), nor the US, EU, Egypt (Rafa crossing is between Egypt and Gaza), nor Jordan (which ruled the West Bank until 1967). Instead, it was brokered by Qatar. If one follows the news from the Middle East for a while, it's clear that Qatar is everywhere. They even brokered the mediation between the Taliban and the US in Doha during the US exit from Afghanistan. Now, if you look at Qatar, its size is slightly larger than the tiny Indian state of Tripura, and it has 3-4 hundred thousand native citizens who hold the passport. That is not the point; the point is, Qatar is the 4th or 5th richest country (by per capita GDP), and they are ready to use their wealth. As we all know, wealth also brings much power and opens doors if you are ready to use it.


1, ADNOC is the 12th largest oil producer by volume!!! 
2, Egypt is the only country other than Israel which shares border with Gaza. Also Egypt controlled Gaza strip from 1948 to 1967.
3. West Bank- the other bigger Palestinian territory - was ruled by Jordan till 1967. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Book of Life - 4

I finally finished 'Annihilation of Caste' by B.R. Ambedkar. One may or may not agree with his thoughts, but I strongly believe people should read this speech at least once.

Later, I picked up Richard Feynman's 'What Do You Care What Other People Think?'. I liked the book immediately. He started with his childhood days and how his father explained concepts to him, and how he began looking at things for what they are. There are some interesting incidents, such as finding a logical explanation for miracles mentioned by priests. On another occasion as a child, he believed in a story until the narrator admitted to spiking it to get attention. After hearing this the kid started crying. The book later goes through the courtship with his wife, their subsequent marriage, and the initial misdiagnosis of her disease. The misdiagnosis occurred because the doctors overlooked an obvious disease that explained her symptoms.

A good portion of the book is dedicated to explaining his role as a member of the presidential commission investigating the shuttle accident. It discusses how information did not move up the chain of command and how often and easily the data and opinions provided by people directly working on the machines and engineers on the ground were disregarded. There is a part where Feynman asks a group and their manager to write down the probability of shuttle accident; while engineers wrote a possible value, their manager provided an impossible probability. It's really insightful to read about how their commission worked.

Without telling you about 'Feynman's Lectures on Physics,' this is not complete. I heard about this book a long time ago when I was in senior secondary. During my first year in college, I found this book in the post-graduation section of the library. This book had a reputation for explaining physics concepts in simple, understandable terms. The problem was that the book was in English, and for someone like me who went through the vernacular medium (i.e., Malayalam) throughout school life, it was not an easy task to go through a book purely due to my interest in physics. I wish these books were translated into local languages and available in all libraries. That time, I read the first book in the series and then left it on the rack.