Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pro-America bias in titles of some articles of English language Wikipedia

I'm giving the example of Comair only to show the pro-USA bias that's present in titles of some Wikipedia articles.

Comair stands for two unrelated airlines - one that was founded in South Africa in 1943, and the other which was founded in the US in 1977. Since the brand name of these two airlines is identical, a natural way to give distinct titles to the respective articles for these two airlines would be:
  • Comair (South Africa)
  • Comair (USA)
However, as show in the screenshot below, the titles are Comair and Comair (South Africa). Is the former more of Comair than the latter? Why is the country moniker attached only to the South African airline? Is it inferior to the American Comair? This is just one example [out of hundreds] of even Wikipedia assuming American companies, American names, American people, American products, American researchers, etc., as the standard, and those from rest of the world requiring special clarifications or disclaimers.


My blood boils whenever I read about America's drones killing suspected militants [and also civilians] in Pakistan and elsewhere [Yemen, etc.]. What kind of ethics or laws allow someone to fire missiles at suspected militants? How does America define suspected militants? How does it unilaterally conclude that its information is credible and sufficient enough to warrant killing someone who they call a suspected militant? Why does America show a blind and deaf attitude towards the civilian "casualties" [I prefer to call it murders] that are frequently reported because of these drone strikes? Who in the world will punish the US for these heinous murders? When will US apologize for the murder of 24 Pakistani soldiers? For the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people of Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the people on Iran Air Flight 655? What right does US have to conduct military operations on other nations' soil? What will America's reaction be if Iran killed suspected militants present in the US?

Some snippets that don't touch even the tip of the iceberg [archived copies of these and other related stories on SkyDrive]:

"Residents and local officials said the strike damaged a nearby mosque where three worshippers believed to be Central Asians were fatally wounded. "They were seriously wounded and died later in the hospital," a security official said." - AFP, May'12

"Pakistani-US relations went into free fall last year, starting when a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistanis, then over the American raid that killed bin Laden on May 2 and lastly over US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November." - AFP, May'12

"According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan's tribal belt in 2009, the year Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011." - AFP, May'12

"The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years." - AFP, May'12

"An American drone fired two missiles at a bakery in northwest Pakistan Saturday and killed four suspected militants, officials said, as the U.S. pushed on with its drone campaign despite Pakistani demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week... The officials said the victims were buying goods from a bakery when the missiles hit... The U.S. rarely talks publicly about the covert CIA-run drone program in Pakistan... On Thursday, a suspected U.S. drone killed 10 alleged militants in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border... On Wednesday four suspected militants were killed in the village of Datta Khel Kalai in North Waziristan." - AP, May'12

Will this dronecaust ever stop? Is there any regard for life left in America?

Update [31-May-12]: Well, it appears that the timing of my anger was quite right. The NYT has published an article that has an outrageous revelation, that the President of the US personally signs off on every target in the kill list. What makes him different from the people he kills?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Free download Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 (formerly Microsoft Math)

It's generous of Microsoft to have released the excellent Mathematics 4.0 software for free. It's a commendable contribution to students and also the broader education/mathematics/scientific community. I downloaded the software as well as all the associated documents [PDFs, etc.] yesterday, and I thought, why not make the entire package I downloaded available to everyone, sparing them the effort to download each file individually :).

You can download the entire package from this SkyDrive link. The screenshot below shows the contents of the archive:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The crash of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 in Indonesia has given a big visibility boost to Russian civil aircraft

I tweeted about the visibility boost to the Superjet 100 a few weeks back. It turns out that even other Russian/Ukrainian civil airliners have got a big, temporary visibility boost. The following screenshots show the number of views that Wikipedia articles of four Russian [or Ukrainian] civil aircraft got in last 30 days [Antonov An-148, Irkut MS-21, Tupolev Tu-204, Tupolev Tu-334].

Engineering versus MBA - is one more important than the other?

The term engineering refers to any type of core job skills. This could include even fashion design skills for a designer, or cooking skills for a chef. By MBA, I mean all non-core job skills.

Is one of these more important than the other? It's a question that people have strong opinions about. I'm both an engineer and an MBA, so I probably have a broader perspective to answer this question compared to folks who are only one of these. However, I might ruffle MBA feathers by claiming that technical skills are more important [and vice versa].

So I'll provide an example: think of a house being constructed. Compare its construction materials, its foundation, and its structural design to engineering, and its interior design, its luxuries, and its paintings, etc., to MBA. A house with only engineering won't attract too many buyers, because they won't like the modest design, the uninspired feel, etc. A house with only MBA will quickly attract many buyers, unaware that the house is flimsy and even dangerous. However, over time these buyers will realize that this nice piece of design is nothing more than a house of cards, and these buyers will flock to the former house.

Speaking more generally, it's important for individuals in each camp to respect those in the other. Pure MBAs should understand and respect that they don't know what the engineers know, and pure engineers should similarly appreciate the knowledge and skills that MBAs have.

Following are some interesting articles/posts about engineering vs. MBA. Note that there is no bias in choosing these three links because these were randomly chosen from Google results without ex-ante knowledge of their contents:
  1. MBA vs Engineering, Aug'06

Monday, May 14, 2012

Summarizing the issues faced by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) today

The Indian Institutes of Management, or IIMs, are as prestigious institutions as something can be. However, Indians know and understand that there are some serious weaknesses in these institutes [compared to elite business schools elsewhere]. The following screenshots almost perfectly summarize the key issues faced by IIMs today:

Over-emphasis on CAT/GMAT, lower share of female students, non-existent international student share, and significantly lower average work experience. As an Indian, I know more than what the above charts tell - that most of the students at IIMs are engineers [not so in top business schools elsewhere], and that many students at IIMs are fresh out of college, with zero work experience!

As much as I would like to see these great institutes of my country turn into global business schools, I, myself an MBA student, know and understand well that unless these shortcomings are solved, the IIMs stand no chance of challenging elite Western business schools.

Friday, May 04, 2012

How I'm going to study the subject Management Information Systems (MIS) during my MBA

I'm a graduate in Computer Science & Engineering, and one of my several interests is in technology [computer science, consumer electronics, software, etc.]. I've read and used both computer science and information systems for many years now, and now that the MIS course has just started, I've to decide how to most efficiently utilize my time [considering that I already know almost everything being taught in the class].

One way to do this is to read the right books. The officially recommended books are:
  1. Management Information Systems - Managing the Digital Firm [Kenneth C. Laudon] [Primary reading]
  2. Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges [Andrew McAfee] [Supplementary reading]
I've looked at the first book and it seems that it isn't going to be useful to me. So I've decided to read the second book [by Andrew McAfee] along with a seminal book - Business @ the Speed of Thought : Using a Digital Nervous System [Bill Gates]. I think that these two books alone, especially the latter, will teach MIS [its importance, its potential and its applications] far better than any standard textbook could. I'm confident that I'm making the right decision by not reading the recommended textbook and instead focusing o these two books.