Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great sites to visit on the internet

There are some great things you can "learn" on the internet(assuming you understand English.)

Following is a none comprehensive list:

*Youtube: This really is the coolest of them all. What do I use it for? For starters there is the authors@google lectures. I watch Monty Python episodes, Black adder episodes, SNL clips, Letterman, Jon Stewart, Steve Colbert, Olbermann, Richard Dawkins lectures, Noam Chomsky lectures, Edwards Said lectures and so on.
*TED: This site brings the smartest, brightest, most creative people in the world and have them deliver "talks" about their cutting edge ideas once per year in the Technology Design Entertainment conference. One cool lecture that I watched was Dan Dennet talking about Memes. You can find many of these on youtube, but cut into 9-10min segments, while you can watch the whole lecture as is on TED.

Also most talks can be downloaded as MP3 or MP4 directly or through ITunes.
* Among the most interesting documentaries are the American Zeitgeist and another one about the Jewish Lobby in America.

Aside from the language barrier(which Jordan needs to work on,) I think the other big hurdle for people in Jordan in using these "free" resources and many others is the slow adoption of broad band internet. As of march 2008, there were only 49000 broad band subscribers, so assuming 4 people per household using the internet, that would be around 200K. Of the total internet users that translates to something like 15%, which is a rather low percentage.

I know that this percentage is growing, but that is really not fast enough. And to make these resources more useful, one needs to have a connection of at least 256K. The basic ADSL subscription starts with 128K, which is sufficient for everyday "browsing," but not even closely adequate for streaming video content. Furthermore the limitations of the number of Gigabytes downloaded per month is of no help either. Is is in a way like setting limits on the amount of stuff you can learn per month.

I really think that using these free internet "learning" resources will benefit Jordan. The question is, will the government do something to allow more people to access these resources. I think it would be a reasonable target to have 50% of subscribers using broadband in the next 3-5yrs.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How will the Jordanian Society Adjust to The New economic conditions

I think that the Jordanian Society can adjust to the new economic conditions, not by accepting a lower living standard, but by being smart. There are many things that can be done in the short and medium term that would help the Jordanian Society wither the storm:

*Cut down on the number of people invited to weddings by 50% and the amount of food ordered. This would save the Jordanian society more than 25million JDs.
*Have no party or a very small party for the engagement. This would probably save 5 million.
*Reduce the amount of Jewelry given to the bride at the wedding. This should save 3 million.
*Having smaller families with 2 children only. This should save the society more than 120 million JDs. These savings come in many forms, smaller cars that are cheaper and consume less fuel, smaller apartments that are cheaper, less overall expenses, less cloths to be purchased, etc.
*Replace mobile phones every third year instead of every year . This should save the Jordanian Society more than 10 million Jds.
* Allow women to openly date and use the home landline. This would probably save another 3millions.
*Use the mobile phone for the moderately important to the very important stuff only. This would save 50million JDs.
*Use Skype for international phone calls. Another 5 millions.
*Smoking 20% less. This should save 50million JDs in direct and indirect costs.
*Buy smaller engine cars(only 1.6 ltrs or less.) This would save 25million.
*Use compact florescent lights in every house. This would save 43millions.
*Using energy efficient computers and LCD screens. This saves around 10 millions.
*Using insulation and double glaze windows in new buildings. This would probably save 30 million JD.
*Depeg from the dollar. Expected savings of more than 150millions. This comes in many forms, including cheaper oil and gas, cheaper imports including wheat, corn, and rice.
*If every single household got a solar water heater. This would amount to savings of 30million.
*Have a proper public transportation system. Annual savings of 50million JDs.
*Going Digital. This should produce more than 100million JDs in savings. This can happen in several ways including more people working from home, people doing all their banking online and not going to the bank, no space required for digital items, etc.
*Give incentives for owning Hybrid cars in the form of tax breaks . Annual savings of 70million Jds.
*Have Jordanian drivers improve their driving style. This will result in the reduction in the number of accidents by 20% and improve millage by at least 10%. The total saving would be around 60million JDs.

This is almost 800 million JDs saved per year and I can probably come with 10 other ideas to bring out the total to 1 billion Jds.

Presto, all the economic problems solved with almost no cost and no compromised to the living standard, just a minor change in habits and customs.

I can only see one of these solutions having a problem in implementation and that is reducing the family size, no thanks to the perceived contradiction between contraception and religion. Hopefully the government will work hard to erase this misconception.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

What I like About American Movies

Maybe because America is almost the size of a continent, or maybe because it has 300million people, or because it is advanced, or maybe all of these, American movies are so rich with different central characters, I do not think that any other cinema can compete with it on this particular front.

Some movie charters that you are not likely to find in any other cinema:

*Genius mathematician(s). This is can be found in movies like Good Will Hunting, Prime, Proof, A Beautiful mind
*The boxer. This can be found in movies like Cinderella man, Rocky
*The mad and not so mad scientist: Back to the future.
*Magician. The most famous in this case are The prestige and the Illusionist.
*Cheer up leader.
*Computer geeks, programmers, hackers. For example, war games, the Matrix, the net, Johnny pneumonic.
* The vampire hunter.
*The person undergoing psychotherapy.
*The archaeologist/treasure hunter. The prototype for this character is Indiana Jones.
*The psychic profiler.
*Smart theif in a grand theft movie. Like Ronin, the Thomas crown affair.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Traffic Accidents, part 2

The other day, I was reading an article about how driving style affects fuel millage; the results were really interesting, if you you drive properly, within the speed limit and do not accelerate and decelerate suddenly(like most jerks with BMWs do,) your saving might be more that 10%(up to 30% if I recall)

So how would this fact help with car accidents? Well for the last 2 yrs, the government has attempted to improve the driving style with stupid advertisements like:

*Every 10 seconds one person dies from car accidents
*Ever year, X people die from car accidents
*Every day, X people die from car accidents.

These are nice facts to know but they should not can go on doing what they were doing and expect any change in results. 2 years of advertising produces virtually no decrease in accidents.

If people knew that they can save X Jds by driving like proper human beings, with lots of advertising and TV programming on the subject, there might be some chance of success. Even a few percentage point are welcome here.

A few yrs ago, this idea would have had a lower chance of success. However, with the current fuel prices, it might just work. And what if it does not work? Well, try something else until it does.


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