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December 2004

Test Entry

testing with different (past) time.


Bazee.com's CEO arrest is unjustified

I disagree with this post by Primary Red defending arrest of CEO of the Bazee.com. He compares the case with that of Napster. However, they are different in many ways than one. One of the normal usage of Napster was directly based on copyright infrigment. Napster was shut-down while Bazee.com's CEO is being arrested for a criminal act. If Indian Govt. needs to detain Bazee.com's CEO, they can restrict his travel. But arresting and denying bail is really too much!

Somebody rightly pointed out that owner of a mall cannot be held responsible if one if the tentant engages in unauthorized and illegal transaction. If not, by that standard, since Govt. itself is responsible for law and order if any illegal act happens in their jurisdiction police themselves should be arrested.

Sadly, this is really going to hurt India's image.


Offline buying experience

Yesterday, we went to buy a digital camera. We had done our homework online and narrowed down to few choices. However, once at a goodguys store we changed our opinion based on such tangible qualities as size, grip, weight and egonomics. The salesman was friendly and he showed us a few models that we liked. However, since those models were not in our initial shortlist, we asked to see the specs. To that I got this response: "We don't have specs. People normally read their specs on the Internet". Feeling stung, I quickly replied that all you need to do is go to Internet yourself and take printout of specs and keep them near the Cameras on display. The salesman seemed surprised (and annonyed too!) by the simple but useful suggestion to his not-so-polite reply. My wife asked the salesman about the dimensions of a camera that we were looking at. The salesman used his finger-span to measure the size and gave his guess. Unbelievable! If the salesman had the specs ready for the camera that we liked physically, we would have ended up buying the camera! Loss for them!

So, we decided to note down the model number and price for the camers that we liked. Fortunately, we had our camera-phone with us (Nokia 3650). So, we simply snapped up the price tag of the cameras. Just when I had started thinking that camera-phones are useless.

In contrast, when we went to WalMart to buy something else, to our surprise we found that they have a specs on all the digital cameras they sale. The specs were not as detailed as I wanted, but they were good enough to make a reasonable judgement. If a general purpose superstore chain can have specs for digital cameras, how come speciality stores like goodguys don't keep any.

Shouldn't this a no-brainer for the brick-and-mortar stores? And how come they don't get the specs from the manufacturers? If people are supposed to come prepared with all the specs, wouldn't they come to brick-and-mortar stores to the feel for the products and go back and simply order from the web? If speciality electronics retailers cannot provide advise and detailed specs on electronics products then what are they good for exactly (apart from being showrooms)?


Man arrested for standing up to unjust law

I was shocked to read this article at rediff, Man held for insulting national anthem 32 yrs ago. The man was arrested for refusing to stand up when the National Anthem was being played at a cinema hall in Akola. Why should cinema hall owners be forced to play the National Anthem before movies? Why should somebody be forced to pay respect to the National Anthem? Doesn't Govt. have anything else to do besides going around arresting people for not singing the National Anthem? Have all murders, burglaries, rapes and terrorists attacks ceased? Govt. needs to get its priorities straight! I feel bad for the man but also admire his courage for not following the stupid and unjust law.

Update: See also this earlier post at AnarCapLib.


To the feed subscribers

This post is meant for those who are already subscribing to the ATOM feed from my site (http://ashishniti.blogspot.com/atom.xml) or are interested in doing so. Using Feedburner service I have "burned" a smart feed. So, you want to change your subscribtion to this new address. The feed adopts to the reader or browser trying to access it. The service knows various types of readers and browsers out there and serves the feed in RSS 1.0/RSS 2.0/ATOM and other formats automatically. Right now subscribers are split between two feeds. If everybody uses the same feed then I can track my subscribers more effectively.

Are there really no free lunches?

The phrase, "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch," is popularly cited by economists and classical liberals to make a point that there are no benefits without associated costs. Are there really no free lunches then? I think there are free lunches.

Take for example, the solar energy. What does it cost an individual to receive the solar energy? Isn't it free, then? Oh, ya I forgot! There is an opportunity cost. If you choose to have sunbath then you give up the possibility of using it for your solar cooker. But isn't that's like saying you can't have two free lunches?

I think many times people wish to say that one can choose only one alternative (isn't that's why they are called alternatives in the first place). Whether each of the alternative is free to you is immaterial. In that case, the proper phrase to use is, "You can't eat the cake and have it too!". And the cake in question could be falling freely from heaven!


Site changes

I decided to switch to Haloscan's commenting system as I had trouble with Blogger's commenting system. I was already using Haloscan's trackback feature, so this was a natural progression. Sorry, if you don't see old comments. I will try to import them into by Haloscan's account. So bear with me.

Chaos and Cooperation on roads

When I drove a car for the first time on a highway in India few years back, I was pleasantly surprised by the informal signs, signals and right-of-way rules used by drivers. Especially interesting was the way drivers co-operated among themselves during overtaking. To overtake a vehicle one had to use the oncoming traffic lane. The driver of the vehicle in the front has the better view of the oncoming traffic. If the vehicle in the front is moving slowly, the driver will signal the vehicle behind to overtake when it is safe by observing the oncoming traffic in the opposite lane. Drivers made creative use of the honks and lights to signal various conditions instead of just relying on the mandated standard traffic hand gestures.

The arrangement was obviously not very perfect but it was not a chaos. What was important is that I could learn the informal rules and signals on the fly without any formal training or tests before hand. All I had to do was to observe the them in practice just once or twice and I was using them right way. This surprised me completely as I had earlier believed that in order to co-operate and co-ordinate people need to learn before hand the signals and rules.

When I got introduced to the concept of spontaneous order I remembered the above incident vividly. Now chaos does not bother me as it used to be earlier. I see in chaos a possibility of not only an order emerging spontaenously but also an importantly ability to continuously adapt to the changing circumstances.

The pre-designed rules and signals acquired by the formal training method lack this very important characteristic. Not only that but pre-designed rules and signals impeded possibility of even simple changes. Since formal traffic rules have been in force in India (and elsewhere) just how many times have they been adopted or modified? Just how many times have road developers radically re-thought and re-designed roads and corresponding traffic signals, signs and rules? Or even thought it?

So, when a traffic engineer embraces chaos on roads, I think it is a welcome change.


Limited Liability and faceless shareholders

I get this periodic impulses, whereby I simply try to read whatever comes to my mind. Usually there is some trigger involved, say a movie, a documentary or a new word, etc. So this time, I started reading about pre-Independence Indian history. I was intrigued by British East India company. One question that repeatedly came to my mind was, how come we never hear about shareholders of the John Company (it's popular name)? Why do we only hear about various officers of the company, such as Robert Clive, Warren Hastings, etc.?

The company ruled India for approx. 250 years chiefly for the profit of its shareholders. Who were these shareholders? What were their names? What did they feel about the atrocities inflicted on Indians under their name? How come nobody held them accountable for treatment their company meted out to Indians? Same thing goes for the Bhopal Gas tragedy. We are after Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson. But what about other major shareholders?

I wonder if East India Company and Union Carbide were not a joint stock companies with limited liability would they have been abled to create such a disaster? I don't hear much from liberatarians against limited liability protection granted to faceless shareholders. Lot of opposition to capitalism is pure non-sense but there is no doubt that atrocities committed by limited liability corporations are one of main reasons why such an opposition is sustained. What solution do liberatarians have for removing limited liability protection? Let's hear from them.