Zapoi / Zapoy

A couple of my favorite experiences are trying to explain to non-Russians the concept of "zapoi" and conversely, trying to explain to Russian people that the rest of the world has no idea of what "zapoi" is and are totally stumped when it is explained to them, that it exists, and what it means. But over the years of pondering Zapoi, I came to the conclusion that it exists only in Russia for perhaps a certain set of reasons and that it is not a completely random phenomenon. For centuries Russia has had an unusually high portion of its male population composed of men who have experienced war. While some other countries have had that for periods of time around World Wars, Russia has had more wars from Napoleon to World Wars and a higher percentage of its male population participate in them than anyone else. When people are exposed to horrors of war they are often left with PTSD. Or what is now referred to as PTSD but 50 years ago was an undiagnosed and unknown me

Unconditional Love

One reason that the birth of our children is as momentous as it is is that it makes us realize, not always immediately, what “unconditional love” is. We feel it ourselves towards our children and then at some point we realize that we were loved like that by our parents. Before we experienced it in ourselves, we had no idea what that was like and it sure is great to know that somebody at some point loved us that way.

False equivalences in "technology adoption" arguments

Evangelists for EVs and Solar and Wind renewable energy often present the issue as if it is only a matter of changing our mindsets. That we only need to "think differently" and adoption rate of Solar and EV's will somehow mirror that of smartphones, the TV or the Internet. But these are false equivalences and many of the examples cited are not at all similar to the issues around new technology adoption of EVs and Solar renewable energy generation. Let's consider some of those. Horse carriages were replaced by cars because cars were a much superior alternative for getting from point A to B. A horse has 1 horsepower. Model T had an engine that had 20 hp. And when you were not using the car, it just sat there and you did not need to feed it or clean up manure. Horses and carriages were replaced by a vastly superior transportation alternative. Moving on to TV which either "replaced" radio or simply "came into being" on its own because most

Russia's Geopolitical problem with China

Russian leadership is doing its country a disservice. In many ways but one that is not getting any attention is the geopolitical situation with China. Russian leadership should be striving to join NATO rather than oppose it as an enemy because who is going to come to Russia’s aid of China comes calling for resources on their vast Eastern border. China needs resources. It is scouring Africa and Latin America for them spending tens of Billions of dollars to secure them. But some of the world’s greatest resources are right next to it, controlled by an ever weakening former superpower which is foolishly picking fights on its Western border. What if one day President for life Xi decides that he is not really into paying for gas from Siberia if he can just have it? Who is going to stop him? Some 50 years ago Russia and China shared an ideological kinship, a comradeship if you will. They were the two countries spreading Communism around the world. And 50 years ago China was a poor coun

About those rising Global Sea Levels

Here is another common sense (and scientific) reason why the nonsense that NASA tells you about anticipated global sea level rise is nonsense. First, both NASA and IPCC tell you that increase in Global Sea Levels (GSL) will come about half from "volumetric expansion of water" and half from water melting from glaciers. Let's take glaciers first. For a 2 C or 3 C increase in average global temperature to make a big difference in melting of ice in Antarctica and Greenland (all the rest of ice is irrelevant), major portions of Greenland and Antarctica would have to be very close to average temperature of 0 C all year round. Because water melts at over Zero C. If on the South Pole temperature "warms up" from -30 to even - 20 all year long, that will not result in any melting ice whatsoever. Therefore, the relevant areas of ice melt are only on the fringes of both Greenland and Antarctica which in terms of volume of ice account for a truly minuscule porti

Competitive Ethos of Tech companies

Every so often we seem to get surprised by how one or another tech company behaves in a predatory and mean-spirited fashion and the refrain is - "how could nice guys wearing khakis and Patagonia vests behave that way". The founders and leaders of them are all these nerdy people who seem, if anything, shy and meek and then their companies are these bloodthirsty competition squashers who believe that "everything that is not prohibited is permitted". I have grown to believe that there is really no inconsistency there if you look at the formative years of most of the Founders and leaders of the tech universe (and here I include companies like Uber and AirBnB who are not really "tech"). What I mean is that in their formative years these folks were playing a lot of computer games. They were largely not in the Boy Scouts (as Rex Tillerson) or on sports teams which teach honor and fairness and camaraderie even with one's opponents. There is no "honor"

I am for "enthusiastic consent", maybe even "repeated enthusiastic consent"

All the recent debates about sexual harassment and misconduct made me try to define what I really think would be the “best practice” of men towards women which I could subscribe to and wish everyone else did the same. And my preliminary conclusion is that the best thing I’ve heard so far is the notion of “enthusiastic consent” as the standard. I am guided here by 3 principles — what would I today consider in my past behaviours to be OK and something I don’t need to apologize for. And because I have both male and female grown children, what would I consider behaviour that I would wish men exhibited towards my daughter and that my son exhibited towards women. To make things as clear as possible, “enthusiastic consent” means verbal consent or the woman (apologies to my same sex dating friends — I just feel I am unqualified to opine on your dating mores) initiating physical contact. If an awkward kiss turns into a passionate one, that is fine. But if an awkward hug turns into a ki