Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Kantian perspective on Tata Nano

When the whole world is going ga-ga over the Tata nano, there are a few voices raising concerns over the pollution, traffic jams and the increase in the oil imports that would be the consequence. Some have even called for an extra tariff for small cars. As if this is the fault of the Tatas. 

I give credit to a Slashdot comment for opening my eyes - it asked "why should the rich have any more right to jeopardize the human and environmental health" ? 

A simple application of Kant'ian philosophy unravels the criticisms. Roughly put, it asks "what would happen if everybody in the world does this" ? The application of Kantian philosophy didn't arise so far in automobiles (except for a subtle influence on nobel-winning "Market for Lemons"), because there was no way that a sizeable number of people could own cars. Now that this is possible, the in-built hypocrisies become apparent. If you can travel by car, so can anybody else. If you don't care about pollution, why should (or would) anyone else.
For all those environmentalists who are "having nightmares" hearing about the new car, why didn't they have nightmares before when people were travelling in cars (though in small numbers) ? Do they plan to stop travelling by car from now on - as an example of non-polluting living ? Are they also going to eschew travelling by air - since per capita pollution is more than by car ?  

Now for the safety.  Anyone who has been commuting in Bangalore understands the vulnerability of two-wheelers in the traffic especially in bad weather conditions. People have been counseling me to buy a car, because it is "safer" (as in you don't get hurt, the other person does) than a bike. To say that safety is a private domain of a few people is probably the most outrageous thing that I want to hear. 

But why isn't anyone lobbying for the solution that can solve a lot of problems - good public transport ?
I know it has become quite fashionable to pretend to be "green". While it is pretty easy to burn effigies or march holding placards or publish articles in journals, it is difficult to put things in practice.

Update: An excellent article on above theme.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

A game of cat and mouse - combating hutch spammers

In hindsight, it was a sorry decision to take hutch/vodafone connection when I came to Bangalore mid last year. It was singularly the worst decision I made in the entire year. Everyday since then, I'm being flooded with SMSes and phone calls offering some service or the other. And given that I spent quite a bit of time in Mumbai in roaming mode, I'd to pay for the incoming call for a telemarketing call that I didn't want ....

In such circumstances, I'd give my piece of mind to the telemarketing person, and I've done that with Standard Chartered Manhattan credit card people. But these vodafone people are clever - they play pre-recorded calls :( So, now I want to wring the neck of their marketing manager ... Anyway, it won't be a big loss, since he/she is so obviously incompetent.

I was hoping that the National Do Not Call Registry might help, but it appears that though the Government website says it must be free for all subscribes, I keep getting Vodafone SMS'es advertising "Do not call" feature for 100 bucks per month. One thing is definite, either vodafone or the government (I presume the former) is lying. And anyway, since the telecom operator is the spammer, it is more a case of the who's guarding the fence ?

But finally, I got a technology solution instead that sort of works - I installed an application called "Advanced Call Manager" on my Symbian phone, and it tries to filter out calls in a black list. The only trouble is - it is reactive at best, and vodafone keeps changing their number. Typical of spammers.

Here's my spam block list and it keeps growing by the day (with 32 MB memory, my cell can a lot more):

(I apologize in advance if any of this has turned "legitimate")

I do so desperately want to give them the treatment that I finally gave to Manhattan - I voted with my feet. Number portability, where are you ?

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