Pocket reading list - Part 3

Up in the Air: Meet the Man Who Flies Around the World for Free - The story of a man who figured out how to game the airplane ticketing system to rack up miles, enough in fact to be have been flying for almost an year non-stop. It reminds me of the George Clooney movie where the lead actor himself prefers flying and living in hotels to living at home and being among family i.e lead a conventional life. I did not know that the air ticketing industry could be gamed to such an extent and I intend to try it out myself one day!

The Web We Have to Save - Though preachy at times, there is a subtle message to be taken away from this article. The author, rightly, points out that definition of the what internet is grows narrower and narrower by the year. I read a study where a large number of teenagers associated facebook and other social networking sites as the internet. In fact they went as far as to say that they weren't online but they were on facebook. The internet was supposed to disseminate information to all who want it but in the process of streamlining this process of curating information, we have made the channels narrower and narrower. I personally don't see the point of facebook anymore, something that I was very much interested in a couple of years back given the amount of new links/articles/posts I used to find on it.

The Man Who Broke Atlantic City - I've read articles about how gambling can be gamed, about card counting and about bugs in slot machines that can be manipulated for a big pay day. This article, unlike any other on the subject, talk about human ingenuity in turning the tables on the casinos. It is commonly known that if you play long enough, the house always wins. This is an account of how you can change the rules of the game to your advantage.

The Fake Bomb Detectors in Iraq - War is debilitating to a large number of people. It is also very lucrative to a few who can take advantage of it. There was an article talking about the new F-35 fighter jet being developed by the Pentagon, which turned out to be an example of how military technology can be (and is) used for political leverage and monetary purposes. In fact, there are facilities constructed by NASA, which are completed even though the equipment these new facilities needed to test are taken out of commission. This is a similar story of how a handful of people fooled military and countries into buying fake bomb detectors.

Not fade away... how robots are preserving our old newspapers - While the immediate benefits of digitizing old news papers aren't obvious, it should be obvious that studying them can help us understand our past better. The intricacies of our ancestors, their practices, the language. In another similar account, an article outlines how japanese food made it's way into the USA by looking for newspaper clippings and ads from over two centuries ago. This is an account of one such gargantuan effort to preserve our old newspapers, something which should be happening worldwide.

Supercharged Tuberculosis, Made in India - We've all known about drug resistance for a while now and how deadly diseases have developed drug resistant versions. This is an account of how certain strains of drug resistant Tuberculosis are spreading in India and the steps needed to be taken to identify them in the first place and to then develop a cure.

How I Became an Artist - An inspiring account of how through perseverance and sheer hard work, one can become an artist. And it's a story that translates easily to any other field.

A twelve-year flash of genius - If you've read the previous article, you'll understand that years of hard work eventually paid off in him getting a job or in his work being recognized. Some tend to romanticize things by saying that the artist blossomed over night and his skills grew exponentially within that time. This is an account of how wrong this romanticization is and the kind of harm it does to others aspiring to be in a similar position.

The case of the 500-mile email - A curious case of how a certain email server wouldn't deliver mails if the recipient's server was further than 500 miles away!

Why do some countries drive on the left and others on the right? - On the surface, it seems that most countries which were ruled by the British drive on the left hand side of the road while some changed to the right side after gaining independence. Some, India for example, probably thought it was too silly to thump one's chests after independence by changing which side of the road to drive on but that's a whole other issue. In fact, there is a deeper reason as to why the early British or the early Europeans used to travel on the left hand side of the road.


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