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Showing posts from April, 2015

My Money, My Home

In Japan seven years ago, the central government began allowing city residents to divert a proportion of their income-tax payments to a furusato of their choice, a schema known as the furusato nozei, and the response has been overwhelming: in the last fiscal year rural towns earned $1.2 billion from such contributions. Some city-dwellers still harbour strong feelings towards their furusato, or home town, that rural area which their forebears may have left many decades ago, but others choose a furusato simply because they like the area. Lucky rural towns, suffering financially as a result of ageing and shrinking, are especially delighted as the furusato nozei is proving a windfall. -

Robochef: The Anthropomorphic Argument

Mark Oleynik hopes to change the home kitchen by introducing a robot cook that is as good as a top chef but which can be installed in all houses. It can, in principle, be used to cook more or less anything: a pair of dexterous robotic hands suspended from the ceiling assemble the ingredients, mix them, and cook them in pots and pans as required, on a hob or in an oven. A prototype of the idea, unveiled in Hanover, has been demonstrating its culinary prowess in public, by whipping up an excellent crab bisque. The machine's finesse comes because its hands, human-sized and with jointed fingers and thumbs, are copying the actions of a particular human chef , who has cooked the recipe specially in order to provide a template for the robot to copy. The plan is to support the automated kitchen with an online library of more than 2,000 recipes. 

Fill The Vacuum

In one talk held in 2009, a trustee of the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) told the recruits: “Our goal is to create the True Believer, [and] to then mobilise these believers into an organised force for change who will carry out dawah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad. This will lead to social change and Iqamatud-Deen [an Islamic social and political order].” Another IFE document said: “IFE’s primary work is in Europe because it is this continent, despite all the furore about its achievements, which has a moral and spiritual vacuum.” [ The Telegraph  (2010)]

Um Centro

“E tu, o que é que vais fazer?” Acompanhei-a à porta: de facto, dei-me conta de que não tinha a mais pequena ideia. Beijei-a suavemente nos lábios e respondi: “Não há um Israel para mim.” Um pensamento pobre, mas exato. Depois, ela desapareceu no elevador. [Michel Houellebecq (2015), Submissão]

More Cosmetics Than Reality

No single elected official has the power to change the system. The system is, in fact, largely unelected and unappointed. The bureaucracies are massive. The cumulative regulations and legislation that empowers them are monumentally complex, impossible for any single mind or any one generation to comprehend. The process of reform is messy, structured so that the special interests with the most lose get decide where it goes. It is highly unlikely that this process will result in an overall net good for the cause of human liberty. This is why there seems to be so little relationship between promised results and actual results. We do well to keep in mind that politics is more about cosmetics than reality. Also, someone inside the system has little chance of changing it.  A well-established tradition of merit rating becomes the current system's most valuable weapon for its own survival. People who attempt to change the system (for the better) have no chance of recognition .

Our World Our Rules

California 2015 Maputo: giant plantations VS small farms