Archive for March, 2018

1971 War – Sam Manekshaw, Kim Yadav, Krishna Menon …

Posted on March 27, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities, Regimental |

A sordid Story which began when Gen Thimayya was Chief and Nehru’s blue eyed Defense Minister – VK Krishna Menon began to under cut and humiliate the Chief in order to pave the way for the rise of the Kashmiri ASC Gen BM Kaul – a distant cousin of the PM.

The Story starts when the Defense Minister visits Maj Gen Sam Manekshaw who was GOC 26 Div and tries to enlist him against his own Chief – Gen Thimayya. Sam of course refuses point blank and thereby begins to  dig his own grave.

This is the cause de terre for the enquiry which was initiated against Sam a year or so later when he was Commandant of the Staff College.

The principle witness against Sam in the enquiry against him was a close colleague and friend – then Col – later Brigadier – Kim Yadav who happened to be the the first CO of a very dear course mate and friend, who vouches his elan and professionalism. Kim was, indeed, an outstanding officer, who was for a while, ADC to Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Years later when Sam took over Western Command where Brig Kim Yadav  was Commanding a Brigade, Sam heard some officers in the Mess, in hushed tones belittling Brig Yadav. Turning to them he says, “Gentlemen, Brig Kim Yadav professionally is  head and shoulders above most of you – all he lacks is character”.

The late PKK Raju, a Rimcollian, was present with the FIFTH when it was part of Kim Yadav’s Brigade and used to narrate this exercise which most every one thought was to fix Kim. This seemed  more so Sam as Army Commander himself attended.

The brigade had performed pretty well and Sam went up for his Summing Up, most every one thought that Sam would now tear apart Kim. But Sam went to the podium, looked round and spoke just one sentence before he shook the Commanders’ hand. He had said was that were he himself commanding the brigade, he could not have done better!

And at the end of the 1971 war, Kim Yadav sent a telegram to Sam, ‘You seem to have won the war all by yourself – without any help from me! My Congratulations’.

Those were the Days and these were the Guys.

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Equinoxes – All You Need to Know …

Posted on March 22, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/what-is-vernal-equinox-spring-sun-moon-earth-science/

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WWI – Final Stages …

Posted on March 21, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

Victor Hansen –  a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” 

One hundred years ago this month, all hell broke loose in France. On March 21, 1918, the German army on the Western Front unleashed a series of massive attacks on the exhausted British and French armies.

German General Erich Ludendorff thought he could win World War I with one final blow. He planned to punch holes between the French and British armies. Then he would drive through their trenches to the English Channel, isolating and destroying the British army.

The Germans thought they had no choice but to gamble. The British naval blockade of Germany after three years had reduced Germany to near famine. More than 200,000 American reinforcement troops were arriving each month in France. (Nearly 2 million would land altogether.) American farms and factories were sending over huge shipments of food and munitions to the Allies.

Yet for a brief moment, the war had suddenly swung in Germany’s favor by March 1918. The German army had just knocked Russia and its new Bolshevik government out of the war. The victory on the Eastern Front freed up nearly 1 million German and Austrian soldiers, who were transferred west.

Germany had refined new rolling artillery barrages. Its dreaded “Stormtroopers” had mastered dispersed advances. The result was a brief window of advantage before the American juggernaut changed the war’s arithmetic.

The Spring Offensive almost worked. Within days, the British army had suffered some 50,000 casualties. Altogether, about a half-million French, British and American troops were killed or wounded during the entire offensive.

But within a month, the Germans were sputtering. They could get neither supplies nor reinforcements to the English Channel. Germany had greedily left 1 million soldiers behind in the east to occupy and annex huge sections of conquered Eastern Europe and western Russia.

The British and French had learned new ways of strategic retreat. By summer of 2018, the Germans were exhausted. In August, the Allies began their own (even bigger) offensive and finally crushed the retreating Germans, ending the war in November 1918.

What were the lessons of the failed German offensive?

The fortunes of war can change in days. In late March 1918, the Germans thought the war was won. Three months later, they knew it was lost. Often, the worst moments of war come right before the end, as the last-gasp battles of Waterloo, the Bulge and Okinawa remind us.

In 2016, an ascendant Islamic State bragged that it had formed a vast new Islamic caliphate. By the end of 2017, ISIS had been bombed to smithereens and routed.

Long-term strategy matters. Without a strategic vision, short-term tactical success means nothing. The advancing Germans had no real idea of what to do next — even if they reached the English Channel. There was never any chance that the British would quit. The British had survived worse at the earlier battles of the Somme and Passchendaele.

In our time, America has never quite determined its strategic aims in the nearly 17-year-old Afghan war. Is it to crush the Taliban? To build a democracy in Afghanistan? To rid the country of terrorist havens? To stop the opium trade? To make Afghanistan economically and militarily self-sufficient? To simply not lose? All that and more have been mentioned as American goals.

Alliances are critical. What did it matter that Germany had finally defeated Russia if at nearly the same time it had provoked an even stronger new enemy in America? The key to denuclearizing North Korea is creating a frontline partnership of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. — and to flip either China or Russia to our side to ensure that sanctions strangle Pyongyang.

War is decided as much by economics as by soldiers. Germany unleashed a lethal army against the Allies, but its soldiers did not even have enough food or munitions to sustain the offensive after a few weeks. Germany had neither the food nor the factory capacity to conduct war against the combined might of Britain, France and the United States. In many ways, 1918 Germany was like today’s Russia — formidable on the battlefield, but only for a short duration and without the economic ability to finish what it starts.

Leaders usually ignore history. A little more than 20 years after the Spring Offensive, Hitler’s Third Reich fought America, Britain, France and Russia; unleashed its armies in a two-front war in Europe; was blockaded; and lost another world war.

The final battles of World War I will have their 100 anniversaries this year. But the lessons of how Germany almost won and then suddenly lost are ageless.

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PM I – Grand Daddy of Self Help – Overview …

Posted on March 21, 2018. Filed under: Personal Magnetism |

We live in Deeds – Not Years; in Thoughts – Not Breadths; In Feelings – Not in figures on a Dial. We should count Time by Heart Throbs! Life is but a means to an End. That End? Beginning, Mean and End of All Things – GOD!

General

Magnetism is a resultant energy that is generated by Life itself. Its degree of power is directly dependent upon the amount of intelligent direction the Mind may give to the Body and all its Functions; or by following a Regime of Careful and Exact Conduct.

A person able to generate electricity by controlling Life’s forces within the Body is able to retain and use this power at will.

Magnetism is a quiet Fire of the Mind and Heart. It is the synonym of Control. Superiority – whoever controls himself when compared with one who is controlled by circumstance.

A high degree of Magnetism tenses the face and broadens the features.

The Rise and fall of the tides of Magnetism, are as frequent as the movements of the Ocean. Magnetism depends upon Moods and Feelings. Thought and will yield to influences of the day, power of circumstance and the Will of Others.

 Magnetism is more or less fleeting in weak characters. It is an essence, a quality; an endowment that comes and goes at Will and is held in one’s grasp either by accidental habits or by proper training, in which Mind and Heart play important parts

Magnetism is as old as Man. It is Universal. Indeed all beings, and even inanimate matter, is endowed with Magnetism. Interestingly the Magnetic influences are greatest at night or in the waning of the year.

Magnetism can be Positive or Negative, High or Low. All humanity is divided into two classes – the Hypnotic or Controlled, who are living in the Negative Hemisphere and the Strong or Controlling, who are living in the Positive Hemisphere.

 Down the ages the battles of Life have been won by those supercharged with Magnetism. Rank is invariably determined by the degree of Magnetism, and its judicious use.

Magnetism aims at emancipating you from the slavery of Influences of Others and your own faults. It is a double power – aggressive and protective, the best friend of man and woman and their best defense.

When sufficiently developed it aims to make you the equal of the greatest persons in individual power.  It perfects Brainpower. Apply the principles of Magnetism and develop a brilliant, tireless, powerful and resourceful intellect.

 Magnetism is produced and retained by prevention of physical, nervous and mental leakages and attainment of inescapable charms.

All Life is controlled by laws. Adoption or Rejection result in Harmony or Penalty. Poverty is the natural penalty of Indifference. The bad grows by itself. The good has to be cultivated. Life is a highway and all roads lead somewhere. A man who stands still is not living. He may exist but he is better off buried.

FACULTIES OF MAGNETISM – MENTAL & EMOTIONAL.                 

Thinking, planning, reasoning are mental. Feeling, hoping, wishing, loving, existing in harmony are controlled by Moods and Feelings.

A Person with Magnetism held in abeyance  is sensitive, susceptible, impressionable and easily affected by moods and conditions.

To remain powerful, you have to maintain Mastery over the Moods. Slavery to a Mood is the most exacting form of slavery. People with a high degree of Magnetism seem cold in nature and lacking in sympathy with the misfortunes of others while possessing an attractive personal power

The quickest way to build Magnetism is to remove its enemies and move dwelling to the Positive Hemisphere.

To move the dwelling into the Positive Hemisphere, you have to stop and analyze the nature of the influences (natural or emanating from someone or some place) that maybe getting the better of you. All persons are subject to the unintended and unconscious influence of others. This is Negative Mental Telepathy.

ENEMIES OF MAGNETISM

HYPNOTISM. Hypnotism puts to sleep the conscious Will and awakens a morbid condition of the subconscious faculty.

Hypnotism is a condition of painlessness established to release its prey from suffering (the bird looks at the glitter in the eye of the snake and is paralyzed and is content to die painlessly).

Self Hypnotism is mechanically produced through the optic nerveAll forms of monotony (eye strain, monotony of gaze, of voice, of physical and mental activity, resulting in lapse of mental activity) are harmful to the Mind and Personal Power.

 Lapse of Thought is a brief hypnotic condition; it occurs when mentally busy while engaged in routine activity. Forgetfulness is a lapse.

Doubting minds are rarely if ever affected by hypnotism.

All forms of monotony and morbid conditions help in hypnotizing. Hypnotic depressions are contagious – like yawning. The scale of control begins from slight and goes onto total control.

Prevention of Hypnotism.

Physical. Never lean out of physical poise. Carry the vital organs and chest high with the shoulders low or solidly down. Keep the jaws firmly together.

Nervous. Study Magnetism. Control temper and irritability. Practice by exposing yourself to disturbing causes. Do eye movements, tensing and stretching.

Mental. Acquire the ‘ I do not believe’ habit. Cultivate detachment and coolness.  Avoid surprise. ‘This too shall pass’ ‘God reigns and His Govt still lives’ 

FOES

IRITIBILITY.  It destroys Magnetism. Snapping at everything and everyone from dawn to dusk, fretting, fuming – giving way to irritation makes for the negative temperament.

You will say mean things, do acts of violence, act most unmanly and be unmagnetic. It comes like sneezing. It is the temper having a sneeze.     Recognize its approach and deflect it away.  Habit of giving way to little things soon grinds out the exalted part of your character and leaves dross.

IRRITIBILTY SHOWS UNCONTROL IN THE MEANEST DEGREE.   Nothing needs more mastery than the temper.                                    Lack of Magnetism causes irritability and results in the narrow, pinched and repulsive face.

CYNICISM                                                                                                       This weakens mind and heart. If you cannot speak well of others, keep silent. Adverse criticism is negative. To mock others is to chaff at God. Every time you turn on the mud pipe you daub yourself. You cannot besmirch another without getting spattered. The reaction in your own mind is harmful. Do not cater to this scum of the heart. Disappoint its morbid greed by refusing to become a sewer through which any filth will flow. The reason for this is that most humans are defective – but that is no excuse.

 FLIPPANCY                                                                                                  This is the most distasteful mood. It takes away the dignity of a person. It begins at home and is due to an unloosening of the restraints. It weakens the brain. Flippancy and morbid moroseness are the only off springs of an empty mind.               

UNSUCCESSFUL PEOPLE are full of disgust for everything and everybody. The fault is due to their impatience and incredulity, unless their laziness is also the cause.

When a little success makes a man arrogant, overbearing and independent of the views of others – his ability is never great enough nor his past triumphs brilliant enough to prevent the decadence of his power.

ENEMIES OF PERSONAL POWER

LIVING HELL is confusion of the mental and nervous system. It is the first fruit of a lack of Poise.                                                                BRAIN STORM. This is when a person is driven by hate, envy, suspicion and jealousy to engage in crime and murder.                        WORRY kills. A minute of Worry destroys a mine of Magnetism.        PAIN weakens Magnetism. Few are those who look after their real well-being and take interest in themselves.                                              STOMACH A weak stomach is the most potent thief of vitality. A man is what he eats. The stomach poisons the brain. Eyesight follows the stomach in everything. Anything that weakens the nervous system, even if for a little while, must be turned down. Omit all rich foods and desserts. Ingest properly. No wolfish gulping down. Get up hungry from the table. The Stomach is the first of the Dark Appetites.

 INDIGESTION is the cause of irritation. Feed the mind by purpose and the brain by nutrition.

EXCESSES. Man has little control over himself. Then he goes about with pale features, sickly hue, and drawn and pinched lips – showing that his vitality and nerve centers have emptied themselves out. Excessive and pervasive sex is the second of the Dark Appetites.

WASTE OF TIME  It is the greatest sin. To be constantly doing something, whether of mind or body is the greatest of all virtues. It is the employment of the little minutes, the spare grains of time –in every 24hrs there are more than a 100 small periods of time, of a minute or more, in which it is easy to let time wing its flight, never to return.

Waste of time is robbery of life. There should be a supreme goal in life but also many minor ones constantly being selected and attained. Nothing should be left to shifting moods. The man who would be most powerful, must be most active but quietest in outward mien.

GOSSIP AND GAPING. Self-explanatory. Also the micro leakages, which add up to a mountain of PLF. Total Self Mastery even when alone in the confines of your room and in your own company.

 COMMON PLACES. A Commonplace is anything ordinary in speech, method or manner. Eliminate these commonplaces. Socially never say or do anything that is not elevating. Commonplaces do not elevate a person. Animal instincts despise beauty.

WARNING – HIGH DEGREE OF MAGNETISM CREATES A DOUBLE LIFE. It is the possibility of being fascinated with the hypnotic idea. The test is that whereas the Magnetism allures a person upward, hypnotism draws a person downward.

In the Law of Life and Energy of the Soul, is the common fluctuation between the forces of attraction and repulsion, between good and evil. Hence the most moral of men are prone to commit the most heinous of crimes and vice versa.

 BEST CURE FOR THE ENEMIES OF MAGNETISM IS A BUOYANT TEMPERAMENT. 

Adopt a fixed temperament by adoption of fixed habits which should include methods of living. No man can have a better friend, a more staunch and abiding supporter than such a fixed temperament. Solicit the favor of sunshine and loving kindness and shower them wherever you go. It is the magnetic temperament.

AN ACTIVE LIFE

No man or woman has achieved a great life’s work unless the wee small hours of the mornings have been employed. The earliest impulse of the day lives and breathes into a strong and pure life all through the hours till night. We are affected in the daytime by the first mood of the morning.

A magnetic person loves to be doing something. It is the most virile of all virtues. To arise in the morning ready and eager to live a full day through. To see as many books, as many persons – friends or not, as many transactions, as many activities as can be crowded into a single day. Do things that you dislike to do.

Do not shirk, dodge, evade, and put off. Do not avoid worthy duties of life. It is the part of wisdom to waste less time in cheap reading and cheaper gossip and to put more into self-improvement. Laziness is an enemy of Magnetism. An undeveloped nature is inactive.

Magnetism must be busy. A working mind adds something to individual power. Constant change and variation increase magnetic vitality. Activity is the right arm of strength and variety the constant refreshment of all our faculties. The faculties are best preserved by their constant use; but not overuse.

 MARGINS. Margins or never reaching the limits, are vital in each and everything.

AVOID too much rest, reclining, lounging, having someone else to do your work and errands. Much rest does injury to the faculties.

 MONEY. Respect it. Expenditure should always be less than ones income. Save for a rainy day. Never buy anything that you do not really need – no matter how cheap it might be.

REGIME. Follow a regime. A line of exact and careful conduct helps develops Power. Irregular living constantly subjects one to low vitality. Note the daily faults, which cause the vital power to slip away.

 EARNESTNESS 

To be sincere at all times is to be faithful to the trusts that have been reposed in you by nature and by GOD. Few are those who respect the powers with which they are endowed.

You are not true to yourself if you neglect your health, your mind, your body, your faculties and your essential being. The true man or woman looks upon the necessities of life as incidents only of existence – useful at maintaining the faculties at their best. He who has nothing beyond the care of the body is poor in the most abject sense of the term.

 Always Be in Earnest – in Great Things and Small. This virtue will stamp itself upon your thought and affect your daily habits. Others will see it and you will be believed in and your power over others will rapidly become recognized. IT PAYS.

Do not trifle with body, with mind, with health and with any facultyIn every deed, in every remark, in play, in sport, in love and in labor – in all things, be in Earnest.

This temperament of Earnestness will stand you in good stead in hours of discouragement and conflict. It is your friend. It is the buoyant temperament.

The one great quality of the masses is Flippancy; of the successful men and women – Earnestness. Nothing is in vain that is in earnest.

Want, Wish, Decide, Propose to Rise in Life – in Earnestness.

Magnetism demands that you make yourself believed in. It demands an active body. The purpose of the Mind should be sincere, honest, clear, definite and thorough.

We may become what we will but we must be in Earnest. For example, without a complete interest in what you are saying or doing, you cannot be in earnest. No lover can win the object of his adoration if his interest is dulled or weakened.

CHARMS                                                                                                     

Magnetism is built upon Thoughtfulness.  Aim at becoming attractive and thoughtful to the needs of others.

Care for Quality and Style. Develop gentleness, sweetness and kindness in the family circle. Be ever watchful of the needs of others. Anticipation is the Soul of Happiness. A wife likes attention. Neglect her and she will seek it elsewhere. There should be no fault finding in marriage.

No magnetic person corrects errors, mistakes or stupidity by scolding or offensive action. A member of a family can be easily cured of a fault by using intelligence or by assuming the same habit to depict its total foolishness.

 You cannot shut your eyes to the fact that you are in competition with all mankind and that others stand ready to push you to one side, once you no longer can hold your own. Personal Attainments are powers that defeat each in itself, some counter influence that seeks to put you down.

 Charms are embellishments of manner, of method, of thought and even of feeling that cannot fail to lend power and advantage to those that possess them. Charms and embellishments are necessary and enhance Magnetism or indeed, Magnetism is enhanced by every physical and mental charm.

Charms enforce evenness of action and freedom from friction. They make you appear cool and free from embarrassment. When charm is strong, brain is strong.

 POLITENESS

Politeness builds Magnetism. Sy and practice it as an art before the near and dear and before the high and low.

Sympathy is a Quality of the Heart. Politeness is a Quality of the Mind and Muscles. Talk to the least of your fellow humans as if you believed them worthy of your attention. Become skilled in the art of etiquette and polished in good breeding.

Polish is the fairest of all accomplishments. To become refined and polished, imagine that those whom you wish to impress the most are observing you. A man must absorb the ideal he has created, into his own nature and he or she must be the one person above all others who is desired by the ideal that has been created.

 In private and in front of others, want of careful conduct to yourself, is important. In marriage personal improvement – physical, mental and nervous – must continue. Whether alone or in company, take exacting care to behave and speak with the best culture. Diction should be free from coarseness and slang.

Private refinement enriches the character. Form the habit of observing yourself and note the faults that will lesson the respect others may have for you.

 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

 Argument is very little employed in higher business. It is the personality of the man that counts. The General who wins his battles is nearly always reticent.

Thinking should precede speaking. There is mystery about a man or woman who does not have an opinion on every subject and who is not frothy and exuberant in words.

Do not open your mind on all occasions to everybody. It is commendable to keep your most private thoughts to yourself.

 Think, read, ponder Magnetism and all the great works of bygone ages. Shakespeare, the Bible, the Classics, Speeches. Reading may change the whole current of your life – inspiring and motivating you.

 Silence commands respect, impressing others with a weighty regard. Still waters run deep. Unsolicited opinions are cheap. The rare talker is always held in esteem. Reticence helps magnetic telepathy.

ENRICHING THE MIND

Talking aloud excites thought. Memorizing makes the brain strong, giving a new power to memory. Greater the number of quotations you imbibe and incorporate in your mind, richer will be the run of your thought.

 The Great Men and Women of the World, as far as is known, have been reciters in solitude, of the powerful extracts of great works. Mere reading of uplifting thoughts is beneficial.

 Mental wandering destroys Magnetism. Closing the mind injures it.

Expression and power go hand in hand. Vocabulary builds power. Add one new word to your vocabulary each day. The more words you can actually use with accuracy, the more control you will have over the thoughts and minds of others.

LIFE PHILOSOPHY

All geniuses and leading characters fill examples of plainness and gentleness in their lives.

 The great men and women of the world, as far as is known, have lived in their second self to themselves and in their outer self to others.

Place no value on the faults, which have dragged great men down.

Greatness lives in the lives of those who serve it. Absorb and be uplifted by the nobler thoughts of the world.

Cultivate solitude, biography, and fellowship of the Great.

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Face Book – Data Leakage …

Posted on March 19, 2018. Filed under: Business, Personalities |

Facebook lost more than $35 billion of its value on Monday, Mar 19, after reports said that more than 50 million people had their personal data misappropriated by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The firm used the Facebook trove, obtained without authorization, to build a software program to influence voters, including in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to the New York Times and Observer of London.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-cambridge-analytica-breaking/breakingviews-facebook-gives-members-one-more-reason-to-leave-idUSKBN1GW05H

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Paul Krugman on Indian Economy …

Posted on March 18, 2018. Filed under: Business, Personalities |

India made rapid economic progress during the last 30 years but Krugman warned lack of jobs and slowing manufacturing sector could derail the growth story of the world’s fastest growing economy.

“India achieved as much economic progress in the (last) 30 years as the Great Britain did in 150 years. It is a very rapid space of transformation….why does there still seem to be visible poverty in India?,” Krugman said.

“Lack of manufacturing could be a major hurdle as India doesn’t have the jobs,” he said.

Another concern for India is high economic inequality, amid rapid economic progress, resulting in uneven distribution of wealth, according to Krugman.

Terming India’s economic growth progress as “extraordinary”, the economist said the country has become (on purchasing power) the world’s largest economy overtaking Japan and while being behind the US and China, it is far bigger than any European country.

Attributing factors that played a role in the economic “progress”, Krugman said there was a dramatic change in India’s policy including liberalised policies taken in early 1990s.

“I am on the Centre-Left, but I do not think the government should have a heavy hand on economy. India used to have Licence Raj, where bureaucratic obstacles were immense and that has not gone away completely but enormously reduced. India has become a much easier place to do business that it was. The PM said India moved from 148 to 100 in the rankings. That is not a badge of distinction, but it is better than it was,” he observed.

He also touched upon the problem of corruption that the country has been facing. “There are issues of corruption. You cannot become Denmark with Chinese levels of corruption,” he added.

In July, last year, the economist had blamed the Modi government’s note-ban, hawkish monetary policy of RBI and a strong rupee for the tepid growth, saying the 6 per cent GDP expansion was “disappointing” for a country like India.

“Your 6 per cent growth is actually disappointing. You probably should be doing 8 or 9 per cent,” the economist said. Unlike the advanced economies, it is “conventional macroeconomic issues” which are afflicting India, he said.

On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the nation by surprise abolishing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes with stated objective to fight the scourge of black money.

However, withdrawing 86 per cent of the currency in circulation in a economy that was close to 98 per cent cash-driven, had its impact on growth, as seen in the official data released in May.

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Teenage Super Achievers …

Posted on March 17, 2018. Filed under: Searching for Success |

By Zaria Gorvett – Today’s Young are known for their mood swings, social media addiction and dubious fashion choices. But some like these teenagers break the mould.

A new generation of precocious youths is solving the problems of today with ambitious, ground-breaking tech. So in case you didn’t already feel like an underachiever, here’s our shortlist of four incredible teenagers already reshaping the world we live in.

Keiana Cavé, 18, New Orleans

Cavé’s journey of invention began with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It led to the largest maritime slick in human history, consisting of 4.9 million barrels (210 million gallons, or 780,000 cubic metres) of oil in one of the most ecologically important bodies of water on the planet.

In the immediate aftermath, baby dolphins began dying at six times the usual rate, while fishermen and scientists reported “disturbing numbers” of deformed sea creatures including shrimp with missing eyes and eye sockets, and fish with oozing sores and lesions. Watching the news reports on TV, Cavé instantly felt that there must be some hidden environmental damage.

She decided to focus her attention on discovering what was really going on. The Deepwater Horizon accident caused horrendous damage to the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. At 15, the teenager began studying what happens to oil when it’s left on the ocean’s surface and discovered that when it’s hit by UV rays from the Sun, it reacts to form chemicals that are carcinogenic.

Today she’s turned her work into two scientific papers and two patents, for chemical methods of detecting the carcinogens. She’s also launched a startup, Mare, which is working towards a way to disperse them so that they aren’t as damaging. Oh, and her research has just received $1.2m (£860,000) in funding.

Rifath Shaarook, 18, India

When Shaarook was a child, he’d spend hours staring through the lens of a telescope with his dad. Sadly Mohamed Farook, a local professor and scientist, passed away when his son was in primary school. But Shaarook’s passion for space lived on.

As a young teenager he joined Space Kidz India, an organisation dedicated to nurturing young people with a passion for technology. He formed a six-person team and dedicated the next four years to making a satellite, under the guidance of the organisation’s founder and director.

Every night, the teenagers would discuss their plans on video calls, often until 4:30 in the morning. Eventually they invented KalamSat: the lightest satellite in the world. At just 64g, it weighs about as much as a large battery.

It’s essentially a 3.8cm-wide cube made from 3D-printed plastic, reinforced with carbon fibres. It contains several different kinds of sensor, including those to measure temperature, magnetism, altitude and any strains on the structure as it hurtles through space.

It also has its own power source and a small computer, to turn on all the sensors at the right moment and store their data. The plan was to get KalamSat into sub-orbit, to test the performance of reinforced plastic in micro gravity.  Lightweight materials that can withstand the stresses of space travel are extremely useful, since it costs around $10,000 (£7,191) to launch a pound (450g) of any substance into space.

After reaching its destination, it would spend just 12 minutes collecting data, before falling back down to Earth and landing in the sea.

On 22 June 2017, the device was successfully launched at Nasa’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia – the very same spot that its namesake, famous rocket scientist and former president APJ Abdul Kalam, once visited over half a century earlier.

Hannah Herbst, 17, Florida

Herbst was inspired to invent at the age of 15 by her then-nine-year-old pen pal, who lives in Ethiopia and did not have access to lights. This is surprisingly common: there are 1.3 billion people alive today without electricity.

So this student came up with the Beacon (Bringing Electricity Access to Countries through Ocean Energy), which captures energy directly from ocean waves.

Herbst’s thinking was that populations tend to settle around bodies of water; about 40% of the world’s population lives within 100km (62 miles) of the coast and only 10% lives further than 10km (6.2 miles) away from a source of freshwater that you don’t have to dig for, such as a river or lake.

The technology consists of a hollow plastic tube, with a propeller at one end and a hydroelectric generator at the other. As tidal energy drives the propeller, it’s converted into use able energy by the generator.

After designing a prototype turbine as a computer model, Herbst 3D-printed a prototype which she tested in an intercoastal waterway. The Beacon can create electricity from almost any water source.

If the design were to be scaled up, Herbst has calculated that Beacon could charge three car batteries simultaneously in an hour. She suggests that the energy generated could be used to power water purification technologies, or blood centrifuges at hospitals in the developing world.

The invention won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in 2015, among numerous other awards, and Herbst is currently studying for a degree in computer engineering while she completes high school.

Julian Rios Cantu, 18, Mexico

This inventor was just 13 years old when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He watched in horror as the tumour swelled from the size of a grain of rice to a golf ball-sized lump in less than six months. She ended up losing both her breasts, though eventually she was cancer free.

Just a few years later, Cantu set out to protect others from the disease. Together with three friends, he formed the company Higia Technologies, which is developing a wearable device that may be able to detect the early signs.

The prototype EVA bra consists of sensors that can be attached to a normal bra, and may need to be worn for just one hour every week to work. The idea is to look for changes in skin temperature and elasticity, which are among many known signs of the disease.

After each use, data is sent to the company’s app, and artificial intelligence algorithms use it to calculate the person’s risk.

The EVA bra may need to be worn for only an hour a week. The device has already raised $20,000 (£14,300) of funding by winning the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, but it still looks to be a long way off production.

It hasn’t yet gone through clinical trials and similar technologies have proved unreliable in the past. However, if the project succeeds, it could help save millions of lives. Nearly 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2012 and the same year, it led to over half a million deaths.

For treatment to be successful, early detection is crucial.

Today’s teenage inventors are part of a long tradition. In fact, many of the world’s most prolific brains started young – coming up with television, telephones and trampolines, as well as braille, calculators, popsicles and ear muffs before they reached their 20th birthdays. 

So while it’s true that all four students are considerably more wide-eyed and fresh-faced than their adult colleagues, make no mistake – any one of them could be the next Thomas Edison or Elon Musk.

 

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Of Commanders and Staff …

Posted on March 16, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career |

Maj. Stephen W. Richey, USA Ret., served as an enlisted Armor crewman from 1977 to 1979 and graduated from West Point as an Armor officer in 1984. He served in various assignments in Germany, Ethiopia, Iraq and the continental U.S. Richey holds a master’s degree in history from Central Washington University and is the author of the book Joan of Arc: The Warrior Saint.

Our Army’s penchant for operations orders that are hundreds of pages, is for dull, unimaginative people who are good at slavishly following a cookbook recipe. It is not for people who possess the spark of combat creativity.

Military history is replete with examples of great Generals, with a couple staff officers at their side, writing orders in minutes, using the hood of their personal vehicle as a desk.

Our writing to cover all possible situations in our mandatory process of planning the next battle is a fruitless attempt to eliminate the uncertainties of war. Uncertainty is a basic condition of war, and the best battlefield commanders thrive on uncertainty.

We attempt to forecast what we will do if this happens and how we will react if that happens, leaving no possibility unaccounted for. Given the unpredictable chaos of battle in which an intelligent enemy gets a vote in what happens—such attempted forecasting is a waste of time and effort.

A free-thinking and active enemy, a change in the weather, an unforeseen delay or blunder, the random whims of luck—and the fact that information about the situation is never complete and frequently wrong—will inevitably combine to produce situations not dreamed of in all what we have catered for.

Far better than over scripted staff procedures is a certain quality that should be part of the mind of every battlefield commander.

The French call this quality coup d’oeil, the “stroke of the eye” that enables the great commander to look at the terrain of a future battlefield and instantly intuit how to place his soldiers and weapons on that terrain to defeat the enemy.

Napoleon had this quality. The parallel German concept to coup d’oeil is fingerspitzengefühl, the “fingertip feeling” that enables the great commander to quickly and intuitively sense how the chaotic ebb and flow of battle is playing out and to issue new orders to his forces accordingly. Rommel had this quality.

Using an English-language phrase, we could say George S. Patton Jr. had the sixth sense that enabled him to understand a constantly changing battlefield situation and rapidly act on his understanding—always faster than either his fellow American or opposing German commanders could.

His pedestrian superior officer, Omar N. Bradley, criticized Patton for being a poor planner. Perhaps Bradley envied how Patton delivered victory after victory by boldly following his inner light rather than bogging himself down in rigid staff procedures. We need to find and nurture more Pattons.

An Army Field Manual – Army Planning and Orders Production is headed by a quotation from Patton: “A good plan violently executed NOW is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Ironically, however, the following 64 pages of that chapter quash the Patton spirit by mandating a planning process of over scripted complexity. For just one example, our staffs prepare three courses of a What’s magic about three courses of action? Why not two? Why not four?

Standardized procedure wrongfully trumps an intelligent sense of what any given unique situation requires. This insistence on a point of procedure causes the common vice of staff officers creating one or two courses of action that are intentionally so bad the commander can instantly discard them in favor of the one course of action the staff already knew he wanted.

Ginning up courses of action to deliberately see them quickly dismissed is a criminal waste of time and effort in wartime situations, in which every drop of time and effort is precious and irreplaceable.

Worse, having the staff prepare three courses of action from which the commander is to choose implies a disturbing passivity on the commander’s part.

Under the time crunch of combat, a great commander looks at the ground, looks at his own forces, looks at the enemy and—quickly—tells his staff that “this” is the one course of action he has decided on. He sets his staff to work doing the coordination to make his plan work.

He and his staff win the deadly race against the enemy who is simultaneously trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

Based on the above, I propose the following:

First, the Army should have two career tracks for its officers: a command track for about 10 percent and a staff track for the other 90 percent. Under this system, young captains would command a company/battery/troop either before or after doing a staff job or two.

Then, based on their comparative performance as either commanders or staff officers, they would be slotted as either commanders or staff officers for the rest of their careers. Obviously, those slotted as career staff officers would outnumber those slotted as career commanders by about 10 to one.

Second, commanders at all levels must be forbidden to possess personal computers, forbidden to exchange emails and forbidden to create PowerPoint slides. Let staff officers have ranks of computers and drown in emails and PowerPoint slides.

The rationale for my proposals flows from my observation that the personality traits that make a good commanding officer and the personality traits that make a good staff officer are the perfect inverse of each other.

Patton’s performance ratings from his staff officer times were poor. Fortunately for the Allies, Marshall and Eisenhower had enough sense to know they needed a larger-than-life battlefield prima donna, and they knew where to find him.

In time of war, necessity can make anything forgivable, and as soon as the war was over, they made Patton go away. Not even the necessity of war could rescue the brilliant, charismatic, maverick Terry Allen from the safe, solid, dull Bradley.

Furthermore, leadership by PowerPoint and email is killing our ability to ever again produce somebody like Patton. Computers, emails and PowerPoint slides are a scourge that threatens to make commanders indistinguishable from staff officers.

I propose “Richey’s law” with two corollaries:

Demands from higher headquarters for more information and more staff coordination will always expand to choke whatever new communications technology has just been invented.

If radios and telephones can’t convey enough information quickly enough, then computer networks of a certain size, speed and bandwidth will. And if that previous-generation computer network can’t convey enough information quickly enough, then a new-generation computer network of greater size, speed and bandwidth will. And so on, ad infinitum ad absurdum.

First corollary: Computers are not labor-saving devices. They are labor-creating devices in that they enable more people at more echelons to micromanage more numerous and more inane issues than ever before.

Second corollary: The deluge of extra information made possible by computers does not improve combat effectiveness, because the sheer volume of information now exceeds the brain capacity of the average human commander to absorb and use in a reasonable time.

The wise commander must now know when to turn off the deluge and revert to applying classic commander’s intuition—his “feeling in the fingertips” in the old German phrase or his “stroke of the eye” in the old French phrase—just like the best commanders have done since Alexander the Great.

Also, the extra work for staff officers made possible by computers does not improve combat effectiveness because almost all of this extra work is needless “eyewash.” An old-fashioned textual after-action report describing a recent firefight is a better and simpler tool than a high-tech, high-gloss computer graphics storyboard.

Today’s commanding general at war typically exchanges hundreds of emails a day, and any commanding general who sends and receives hundreds of emails a day is not commanding! He is chained to his computer when he could and should be out on the battlefield seeing the fight with his own eyes and influencing the fight with the power of his personal presence and example.

These two truths apply to any battlefield:

First, if a commander at any level has something to say, then what he has to say is so important it must be said voice-to-voice with a radio or telephone or, even better, face-to-face.

Second, anything that needs to be said that is less important than what the commander has to say should be said by staff officers and can be appropriately said via email.

Due to the scourge of personal computers, the character of the combat leader is debased while the character of the office bureaucrat is exalted. In today’s Army, an officer who is mediocre at staff work will be passed over for command. His personality traits that could make him an ideal commander will be lost to the Army.

Our Army has cut itself off from developing more Pattons. What precious few Pattonesque higher commanders there are reached their current positions in spite of, not because of, our Army’s culture.

In conclusion, our Army should rethink its battle planning process with a view toward streamlining the process while emphasizing the commander’s role as the guiding visionary.

Our Army should consider separate career paths for commanders and staff officers of promise. In addition, our Army must liberate its bold battlefield leaders from the shackles of personal computers, emails and PowerPoint slides. We need our Army culture to develop our next Patton, not restrain him.

 

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Stephen Hawking Goes at 76 …

Posted on March 14, 2018. Filed under: Personalities, The English |

From The Guardian                            https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/a-life-in-science-stephen-hawking

It began with Albert Einstein. Where Isaac Newton had thought gravity was an attraction borne by the fields of massive objects, Einstein said mass curved space itself.

By his reckoning, the planets of the solar system circled the sun not because of some unseen force, but simply because they followed the curvature of space.

The late John Wheeler, US Physicist,  once summarised the theory with characteristic simplicity: “Matter tells space how to curve …

Hawking was never one to think small. His goal was a complete understanding of the universe. So while others pondered the creation of black holes in space, Hawking applied the same thinking to the cosmos itself.

He joined forces with Roger Penrose , the Oxford mathematician, and showed that if you played time backwards and rewound the story of the universe, the opening scene was a singularity.

It meant that the universe, with all of its warming stars and turning planets, including Earth with all its lives, loves and heartbreaks, came from a dot far smaller than this full stop    . ………………………………

 

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Xi Jinping is now Mao ZeDong …

Posted on March 11, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Personalities |

From NDTV –

Xi Jinping has joined the pantheon of Chinese leadership two decades after bursting onto the scene as a graft-fighting governor who went on to earn comparisons with Mao Zedong in his quest for unrestricted power.

The rubber-stamp parliament further enhanced Xi’s considerable power on Sunday when it approved a constitutional amendment abolishing presidential term limits.

The move allows the 64-year-old Xi to remain in power for as long as he wishes, ruling as a virtual emperor, and is the latest feather in the cap of a Communist “princeling” who is re-making China in his own image.

Xi, who was given a second term as the party’s general secretary at the five-yearly party congress in October, has amassed seemingly unchecked power and a level of officially stoked adulation unseen since Communist China’s founder Mao.

Even though his father Xi Zhongxun — a renowned revolutionary hero turned vice premier — was purged by Mao, Xi has remained true to the party that rules with an iron fist and over which he reigns supreme.

Xi is the first Chinese leader to have been born after 1949, when Mao’s Communist forces took over following a protracted civil war.

The purging of his father led to years of difficulties for the family, but he nevertheless rose through its ranks.

Beginning as a county-level party secretary in 1969, Xi climbed to the governorship of coastal Fujian province in 1999, then party chief of Zhejiang province in 2002 and eventually Shanghai in 2007. That same year, he was appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee.

Following Mao’s disastrous economic campaigns and the bloody 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the Communist leadership sought to prevent further chaos by tempering presidential power through a system in which major personnel and policy decisions were hashed out by the ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

The move helped prevent political power from becoming too concentrated in the hands of a single leader but was also blamed for policy indecision that led to growing ills such as worsening pollution, corruption and social unrest.

But “Xi Dada” (“Big Uncle Xi”), as he has been dubbed by Communist propaganda, has broken sharply with that tradition since taking over as president in 2013 and now looms over the country in a deepening cult of personality.

He has used crackdowns on corruption and calls for a revitalised party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. Fighting graft and upholding party leadership were already central to him when he spoke to AFP in 2000.

At the time, Xi vowed to root out corruption following a $10 billion smuggling scandal, but ruled out political reform to confront the problem, saying he would work within the one-party structure and system of political consultation and “supervision by the masses”.

“The people’s government must never forget the word the ‘people’ and we must do everything we can to serve the people, but to get all the government officials to do this is not easy, in some places this is not done very well and in other places it is done very badly,” Xi told AFP.

‘Chairman of everything’

Xi’s face now graces the front page of every paper in the country, while his exploits and directives headline each night’s evening news.

Shops sell commemorative plates and memorabilia with his image alongside Mao’s and he has accumulated so many political and military titles — from president, to Central Military Commission chairman and party “core” — that he has earned the nickname “Chairman of Everything”.

The Communist Party’s power-broking congress in October confirmed Xi’s induction into the leadership pantheon alongside Mao and market reformer Deng Xiaoping by writing his name and political ideology into the party’s constitution.

While calling for China’s “great rejuvenation” as a world power, Xi has cultivated a personal image as a man of the people who dresses modestly and buys his own steamed buns at an ordinary shop.

Following a divorce from his first wife, Xi married the celebrity soprano Peng Liyuan in 1987, at a time when she was much more famous than him. The couple’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard but stays out of the public eye.

But Xi has presided over a tough crackdown on civil society and freedom of speech that belies the chummy image — and he tolerates no ridicule or slander of his person.

Social media users who have dared to compare his round mien to that of the affable Winnie the Pooh have found their posts quickly deleted, and a man who referred to him as “Steamed Bun Xi” — a knock at his breakfast publicity stunt — was jailed for two years.

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