Friday, December 30, 2005

Ethics over economy.

Finally, ethics wins over economics.

The above NY Times article reports how a large number of child porn portals have been shut down. This may only be a temporary setback to the sick folks out there, but at least it's a start. The web portals have shown some sense (and not economic mind you, quite the contrary I would think) to shut these off from their listings.

Political photographs...

Washington Post has a list of its best political photographs of 2005.

Actually the same popup also shows the best in other categories such as Metro, Nation, Sports, and the World.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Red Christmas ?

Apparently, 70% of the world's Christmas paraphrenalia originated in the officially atheist China !

Here are some interesting snippets from that article...
Even the White House now celebrates a Made in China Christmas. In 2003, seven of the trees adorning the US president’s residence were manufactured in China.

In fact more than two thirds of the world’s artificial Christmas trees are made in the single city of Shenzhen.

Well, the times they surely are changing...

Previous posts on "the times they are a changin'" series : 1, 2, 3.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Sumanta Sen writes an excellent article in the Telegraph, about bribery and corruption. And no, its not the same old rant..he is in favour of bribery, and makes a good case for it.

An excerpt from the article...
Thus Bofors made an issue without, as has now transpired, an iota of evidence against Rajiv Gandhi. In fact, no proper inquiry was allowed to be conducted into whether arms can be purchased without some cut money changing hands. It is the same about the oil purchase from Iraq. If the Iraqis had demanded, and received, extra payment they were just playing the game by its rules. Other countries obviously understand this and so the report has evoked little interest in Britain, France and elsewhere. But in India a holier-than-thou attitude must be adopted. For, aren’t we a society untouched by corruption and other such evils? Incidentally, neither in the case of the Bofors cannon nor that of the oil coupons was national interest jeopardized — the guns are good and the oil never posed any threat to the country’s security.
And in lieu of the latest "money-for-questions" scam, here is another interesting paragraph...
Some of the ‘exposed’ MPs have reportedly claimed that they accepted money for their party. Here the Indian political establishment can perhaps follow the Brits. Their political parties accept money from the rich and ambitious and in return, make them lords and knights. Why cannot the same practice be introduced in the country which has adopted the Westminster model?

Some of the Padma awards can be kept aside for the highest bidders. This will certainly bring greater transparency in the conferring of such awards and also explain how some of the funds that parties always have at their disposal make their way into their coffers. But try and suggest this to our leaders and immediately the collective hypocrisy will raise its head, screaming that this will be against Indian culture. Just as every crime is against our culture.

Also, as a friend of mine asked after the Volcker report and the Natwar Singh issue...
How does it really affect Indians and India if someone made some money off of the Iraqi dictator and his oil scam? They were enterprising folks and saw the opportunity for making a quick buck. Let them be.

Team India !

The Indian cricket team has become the most valued global brand in sports ! Here's why...
  • Sahara India paid Rs 330 crores for displaying their logo on the players' shirts
  • Nike paid Rs. 196.66 crores for kit sponsorship
So, the BCCI will receive $ 27.12 million per year for sponsorship alone !

Previously Juventus held the record at : $ 22.2 million per year. if only some of that money would trickle down to improve grass-roots developement of cricket...and may other sports as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Secret Diaries.

A collection of secret diaries of characters from the Lord of the Rings series...hilarious to say the least.

Original link from Crystal Blur.

Mallu Blog.

Suryagayatri has a malayalam blog !

BBC's take on Hinduism.

The BBC's article on Hinduism is pretty interesting.

Particularly worth reading is what they write about the Aryan invasion theory. Excerpts from this article...
  • There is now ample evidence to show that Muller, and those who followed him, were wrong.
  • Modern historians of the area no longer believe that such invasions had such great influence on Indian history. It's now generally accepted that Indian history shows a continuity of progress from the earliest times to today.
  • The changes brought to India by other cultures are not denied by modern historians, but they are no longer thought to be a major ingredient in the development of Hinduism.
Well, looks like the civilised world is waking up to the truth of the situation.

Of course, certain experts would like us to believe otherwise.

Original link from Varnam.

Other posts related to similar issues : 1, 2, 3.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Corpse Bride.

A corpse bride has been drawing attention in Chihuahua, Mexico. Named La Pascualita, local legend has it that the figure is actually the decades-old embalmed corpse of the former store owner's daughter !

There are also supernatural stories doing the rounds...
  • visits by a love-sick French magician who is said to bring the dummy magically to life at night, and take her out on the town
  • people say that her gaze follows them around the store
  • she shifts positions at night in the darkened shop window to the surprise of passers by

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hello future...this is your past...

Now you can send an email to yourself, to be delivered at a future date !

An excerpt from their website...
it's sorta cool to receive a letter from yourself about where you thought you'd be a year (two years? more?) later. is based on the principle that memories are less accurate than emails. we strive for accuracy.


Akkaraipettai, in Tamil Nadu has a post-modern school, with the latest teaching facilities, state of the art computers and buildings, and has even received a visit from the President.

This is the same school that lost 53 school children in last year's devastating boxing day tsunami. Ironically, the school would never have received all of these facilities, but for the tremendous loss of life it experienced. It received nearly 1.4 crore in donations, which helped rebuild it and provide all of the facilities...
What was once a dilapidated building, where classes were held under a tree, now stand seven new buildings, spacious classrooms, steel desks and benches, an LCD projector and even computers where the students spend an hour every day. Even President A P J Abdul Kalam has gone visiting.
This is an interesting excerpt from the Indian Express article...
In fact, and this is the irony that many here mention when you ask about the school: Had it not been for the tsunami, a fisherman’s daughter could have never laid her hands on a computer keyboard. This village would never have imagined having a Rs 1.40-crore modern school.
Life has its little ironies it seems...

IIT developing rikshaws ?

Since Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattarcharjee has determined to take down the "inhumane" hand-pulled rikshaws of Kolkatta, a design engineer from IIT Guwahati has decided to step in and help out. The result : a nifty tricyle rikshaw !

Other posts related to this story : 1.

Textbook reform linked...

A recent post about Michael Witzel's attempts to block textbook reform, got mention on Desipundit and on the Bharateeya blog mela.

These are great for increasing the coverage for this issue on the blogosphere, and I believe that a concerted effort should be made to ensure that the reforms do go through.

Update on Dec 21, 2005 : Varnam also has a post about this and related issues and has been kind enough to link.

Killing India's "roots" ?

A good write up about the recent spate of name changes for citites in India, in a hurry to "get back to our roots", on Style Station.

I agree especially after the recent ridiculous decision to change Bangalore's name to Bengaluru.

Original link from Desipundit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Who are the real experts ?

A debate has been raging and a proxy-war is being fought on a battlefront that one would least expect, but one that could have far-reaching consequences. It could affect the views of future generations and would demarcate between respect and derision. No, this is not fiction or a figment of my imagination. In fact, this is closely related to education - something that has been held in high esteem across all time and cultures. Education and what is taught in schools is being exploited as a weapon by certain vested interests, to override a rich, ancient culture and people and to paint them as pagan, right-wing anti-socials.

Educational boards across the United States, are actively involved in a process of textbook reform. They, along with parents, students and other volunteers to decide which books contain accurate information, so that they may be used in the school curriculums in their respective states. At the forefront, is the California board of education. Parents, students and host of other volunteers have been working with the California curriculum commission to pore over suggested textbooks to find and eliminate inaccuracies relating to India and Indian culture, heritage etc. After a lot of time and effort spent by a lot of people a list of suggested changes were approved by the commission. Most changes were related to historical and cultural inaccuracies about India, Hinduism, etc. Just as it seemed that the process was on the verge of completion, there was a large spanner in the works.

Enter Michael Witzel and his band of India-baiters. According to this group, all the changes that were suggested were done so at the bequest of pro-Hindutva groups to conform to their religious-political views! Apparently there is a hidden agenda involved in removing inaccuracies from text-books ! These academics (most of whom are not of Indian origin mind you) who seem to know more about India and its culture that Indians suggest that this process has more to do with religion and politics rather than ensuring that the next generation does not arrive into the world with a jaundice view of India!

Anyways, this gets more interesting...Michael Witzel sent a letter to the California state board of education on a Harvard letterhead ! Now the interesting question that follows is...
"does Harvard University support or even condone this particular viewpoint of one of its faculty members, since the letter has been sent on its official letterhead?"
Once would really appreciate their comments on this topic. But, none has been forthcoming. Was this a feeble attempt at trying to scare the school board with an officious letter (one from Harvard no doubt). Did these people have the official sanction of one of the older and most respected the universities in the world ? Why did Michael Witzel remove the link to the above letter as soon as word got out that he had used the letterhead without consent from Harvard ? Fortunately, enough people had copied and cached the original.

Adding spice to the this incident are the comments by Witzel and his coterie on the Indo-Eurasian list. Quoted below are certain excerpts from an email sent by Witzel on this list...
The Hindus in North America ( HINAs) are not just hiina, "lost, abandoned", but they (understandably) cling to their homeland in all manners they can come up with. "Reforming" our schoolbooks according to an imagined Golden Age (Ram Raj), hoary India is just one of the expressions we can observe.
Well, hiina, definitely has more connotations than just lost or abandoned. It means without, deprived of. It also means base and lowly and is probably one of the most derogatory words in the language. Doesn't Witzel, an Indian expert and his group of experts know this? Is this a deliberate attempt at trampling on the Indian community in the US ? Is it unacceptable for expatriates to want to feel at home and learn understand and stick to their culture ? Why is it made to sound like a crime ?

This particular excerpt...
They also tell their daughters to study Classical Indian dance (not exactly a highly regarded occupation back home)
This comment is shocking enough that I believe it doesn't warrant any further comments from anyone else.

More comments from the same list...
they build many temples and have Sunday schools (as many other ethnicities do). But, they hardly invest in Higher Education as other successful Asians have done. Nor allow their children to study items outside Law or Medicine, such as Indian Studies, --- the only way that members of their group could speak with real authority (for example, in school books).
Hmmm...people of Indian origin have probably among the most educated and well-placed people in the country. Indians are always involved in improving the community, and giving back. They just do not make that much of a noise about it. They are also the best behaved and law-abiding citizens and pay their taxes (all of which cannot really be stated about any other community in the United States). So, how is it that there is little or no opposition to the construction of synagogues, mosques, churches of various denominations and even temples dedicated to Satan ? Doesn't this personify hypocrisy at its worst ? And very few people dictate what their children to study what they want. Students typically pick engineering and medicine because these fields provide the best opportunities for career growth and income. Where would this country be without it quota of highly-qualified Indians? And why would any person of Indian origin wish to take up Indian studies, where eminent scholars like Witzel are bashing India at every nook and corner ?

And the trump card - caste !
Or at least, they look for a spouse within the same general Indian caste (jaati), or worse, class ( varna), or worst, among any Indians. They have seen too many of their children marry US people (whether of other Asian or of European descent; Blacks seem unthinkable).
What percentage of marriages in American are inter-racial ? And what percentage of the others are outside of the same economic strata ? These are really small, negligible numbers. They may be changing, but so are the thoughts/ideas of Indians. I think that Witzel and co. must put their own house in order before looking over the fence.

His knowledge about Indians in the US is summed up by this wonderful statement...
as they are NRIs ("non returning Indians" , as I just learned from a Hindi movie),
So, it seems that the incomparable Michacel Witzel picks up much of his authentic information from movies! Lest anyone has forgotten, doesn't NRI stand for Non-resident Indian ? Or is Bollywood the leading authority about India now ?

Another authority on the subject is Steve Farmer. He claims to be another expert on the matter. In his own words...
"I have read many of the ancient Indian texts, in translation. I have been working hard on learning Sanskrit the last few months"
What he seems to forget, is that a translation is somone else's opinion of the subject matter, at best! Also, people have spent entire lifetimes learning Sanskrit and ancient Indian textbooks and haven't gotten close to understanding it all!

the seriousness of the leaders of the campaign can be gauged by the following conversation thread that occurred in the Indo-Eurasian list...
Michael Witzel writes...
"Many short mantras (the later biija mantras) like oM have humble origins the Veda. Him (hiM) is used in the Veda to call your goat .. and your wife."
Cheers, Michael(Witzel)"

Steve Farmer replies
"What if you want to call your goat and your wife _simultaneously_, Michael? :^) "

Steve Farmer adds...
"I will try it on my girlfriend tonight."
Other issues that Witzel and his group seem to have has to do with how God is spelled in the textbooks, especially when relating to Indian Gods. While textbooks use "God" to refer to the other religons, they want the usage changed to "gods" and "godesses" (lower case) while referring to Indias deities!

If the reforms/changes suggested in the textbooks do not go through, then these changes wll remain in most US school books until 2012 ! And this would be a serious disservice to the culture and society that is India.

I believe that this is an active issue that Indians in the US and all over the world must actively pursue. At least until the reforms suggested go through, or Michael Witzel and his coterie back down and show respect to India and Indians everywhere. The fastest and most efficient way to do it is to utilise the power of the blgosphere and mainstream media. Although Sepia Mutiny had run a story regarding this issue, they seemed to have assumed that the experts were right. Most experts listed in Witzel's original letter are not of Indian origin! I think all of us on the blogosphere (whether of Indian origin or not), must express solidarity behind the parents and volunteers who have worked hard to make these changes and try to block out the unnecessary negativity caused by the involvement of Michael Witzel and group.

Another pro-active step is to write to the president of Harvard (Lawrence Summers) and complain about the misuse of the Harvard Sanskrit department's letterhead and ask for an explanation from the university.

Other necessary steps include writing to/contacting the the members of the California Curriculum commission...
  • Alan Bersin, CA Secretary of Education. (Fax: (916) 323-3753)
  • Karen Steentofte, Chief Counsel, State Board of Education (Fax: (916) 319-0176)
  • Ruth Green, President, State Board of Education (Fax: (916) 319-0176)
  • Sue Stickel, Deputy Superintendent of Schools
  • Jackie Goldberg, Assemblywoman, (Fax: (916) 319-2145)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Science Political Action Committee (PAC).

Chris Mooney, writing on Sciencegate, anew blog started by the editors of Seed magazine, mentions an email they received from Bob Palmer (House Science Committee Democratic staff director) about a Science PAC (political action commitee). I am posting the email in its entirety shows some interesting facts and the thinking of the political and scientific communities...

Hi Chris:

Thought I'd drop you a quick note providing some history relating to your postings on a "Science PAC". Please feel free to post or use these remarks in any way you'd like.

Politics is a contact sport which operates by reward and punishment. PAC's are the reward side. Corporate or collective PAC's distribute money to favored candidates. The logistics of organizing a large group of scientists to run a PAC are daunting indeed. Who researches the candidates? Who makes the decisions on distribution? How is the money actually raised without endangering anyone's tax-exempt status? Who organizes a group famous for its quirkiness and individuality?

Interestingly, a few years ago Vern Ehlers (R-MI) organized a "Science PAC" designed to funnel money to supposedly pro-science Republican candidates. Ehlers got some criticism for this. In the end I don't think it ever raised much money from scientists. My guess is that Ehlers got some contributions from the same corporate PAC's who would have donated to him anyway.

So a "Science PAC" has already been tried, albeit probably not in the same way or by the same parties envisioned by your readers.

How about the punishment side? One of the key techniques is the system used by nearly all interest groups (Christian Coalition, Sierra Club, ADA, ACLU, LCV, NARAL, NFIB) -- namely, rating voting records of Members of Congress. These ratings matter. They provide guidance for donors and they may influence voting patterns, especially when Members are informed in advance of a particular vote that it will be "scored" by a particular group.

Scientists have already entered this world of hard-nosed politics. In 1996 a group called "Science Watch" rated all the Members of the House of Representatives based on their Floor votes on 30 key issues affecting science and technology. The issues were selected because they did one or more of the following:

1. favorably or unfavorably impacted the quality review of science,

2. proscribed or prohibited specific types of scientific research,

3. eliminated or increased science needed for improved national decision-making,

4. promoted or curtail science education,

5. directly increased or decreased investment in science.

Science Watch's "Science Scoreboard" was unveiled at a press conference at the National Press Club on September 18, 1996. Science Watch was not a half-baked group. It included Dr. Roland Schmitt and Dr. James Duderstadt (both past Chairmen of the National Science Board), Nobel Laureates Dr. Ken Wilson, Dr. Gertrude Elion, and Dr. Leon Lederman, Dr. D. Allan Bromley (Science Advisor to President G.H.W. Bush), Dr. Eric Bloch (past Director of NSF under President Reagan), and Dr. Martin Apple (Executive Officer of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents).

Although the founding members of Science Watch were equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, the Scoreboard results did not treat the two parties equally. The average score for a Republican House Member, based on percentage of favorable votes, was about 35%. The average Democrat's score was about 75%.

The fall-out from the Scoreboard was predictable. The Republican Chairman of the Science Committee, Bob Walker, attacked the survey as "politicizing science" and noted that "The bottom line of the survey is that if you're a big spender, you get an 'A', but if you're an honest student, do your homework, and make the hard decisions about good science, you fail."

Ranking Democratic Member of the Science Committee, George Brown, said, "I think this is a very useful exercise if it is carried out to its full potential. It will be useless if the scientific community does not take in the information and act on it. The rank and file of people engaged in research aren't well represented and they need such a tool."

Brown's words fell on deaf ears. Establishment science organizations like the Association of American Universities questioned the appropriateness of the Science Watch survey, and the community as a whole never seemed to get the idea.

In the end, the most important legacy of Science Watch was probably to constrain future Republican mischief-making in legislation dealing with science. After the 104th Congress (1995-1996) far fewer contentious scientific issues surfaced in House legislation and far fewer votes were permitted on those issues that were ripe for political organization.

Bob Palmer

Sketching a woman.

An artist's progressive sketch of a woman. He starts from the skeleton and then works his way up. Fascinating !

Original Link from Crystal Blur.

Maha...err...Bharata !

Crystal Blur's parody of the classic, in the vein of a PhD dissertation - don't miss the comments from Vyasa/Ganapati in the middle...reall hilarious. Here are the chapters to date...
Original link from DesiPundit.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nine things that make no sense.

The plain english committee in Britain, nominates examples of statements that make little or no sense...more often than not, they are hilarious as well.

Here's my favourite from the list (at number 8)...


Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's a dog's life...

The next time you hear dogs making a panting, excited noise, they may be laughing at you!

Recent results by Patricia Simonet, an animal behaviourist...
An animal behaviourist says she has figured out what dogs are doing when they make that excited panting noise while playing or anticipating a much desired walk. They're laughing.

Patricia Simonet, development and programme coordinator for Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, found that the sound of dog laughter comforts other dogs. When she played a recording of "play panting" through the speaker system at a shelter in Spokane Valley, all the barking dogs quieted within a minute. "I wanted to see if I could reduce the dogs' stress by playing the sound in the shelter," Simonet said. "I was surprised when they were calm and quiet."

And here's the best part...

Eventually, Simonet wants to market the dog sound commercially.

Corrugated steel not "made" in India!

Pakistan accepts Indian offer for corrugated sheets in earthquake hit PoK, but, here's the catch...
they don't want a "made in India" stamp on it.
Hmmm...saving face ?

Marriage contract !

Rohit, a software engineer, wanted a new contract, which would be that he have a trial run for one month and then decide about staying in the contract for the longer run. Well, nothing out of the ordinary, eh ? People always look for trial periods for new products and can return them if dissatisfied. But read on...

The guests had started coming in when young Rohini, dressed in her bridal finery, got the call from the man with whom she was about to start a new life.

Only, Rohit Nagpal didn’t see it that way. He wanted a one-month contract to “determine” his would-be partner’s “compatibility”.

If they hit it off, fine; if not, too bad.

A stunned Rohini, who first thought Rohit was joking, ran to her parents. “She was decked up and looking very pretty. She rushed out of the room with tears in her eyes and asked her mother to request the guests to leave as the wedding had been called off,” a relative said over phone from Gurgaon.

Informed of the development, police rushed to Rohit’s Sector 14 house with Rohini’s parents and relatives. But the software engineer remained adamant. If he and Rohini, a master in computer applications whom he had met in Pune, got along well, they could remain man and wife. If not, they would divorce.

Hmmm...what will they think of next ?

Sachin's drill.

An interesting report in the Telegraph...
The Melbourne Grand Hyatt’s managerial staff didn’t identify the guest, but did let it be known (to a limited circle) that she’d actually complained about somebody attempting to “drill a hole” from above her 25th floor room.

That, too, around “1.00 am” on a December night two years ago.

The complaint was serious, but the managers were relieved that the guest directly above the lady’s room was none other than Sachin Tendulkar.

Hmmm...Sachin Tendulkar trying to drill a hole in the floor of his hotel room ? Outrageous eh ? Well, he was on a drill - a batting drill. Apparently he was practicing some batting drills which Greg Chappell had told him about earlier in the day! From the above report, in Chappell's words...

“Earlier that day, Sachin had a one-on-one with me… He hadn’t got many runs in that Test series till then and was very keen to score in the remaining innings (at the MCG and at the SCG)…

“I suggested a few things technically and also that he shouldn’t look for cheap runs… That he ought to build his innings… Given his dedication, Sachin began trying out small adjustments and psyching himself up that night itself… It was incredible,”

Well, he is dedicated...we have all known that for a long time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

35 !

The little master has done it !

Well, to everyone who had written of Sachin...what a great way to shut them up !

Also, comments by Rahul Dravid, about Sachin. Great read.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More children...

Now Praveen Togadia is also getting into it...

The RSS and now the VHP...hmmm...seems like a common agenda now to really hit hard at the demographics.

Previous posts on the demographics series: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Wild Kallu.

Kalyan has recently been awarded the wildlife photographer of the year award for this picture which made it to the cover of the Sanctuary magazine !

Well, "Kallu mama", as we used to call him back in our undergrad days at PESIT, a bunch of others (including yours truly) worked up a reputation for being able to finish a pepsi in 8 seconds flat ! ;)

Also known as the whiz-kid that basically kept our college network up and about in the face of overbearing characters, who were always trying to bring it down with their inane stupidity and arrogance.

Well...last I heard about him, he had gone natural, and was in the jungles, and whizzing around starting a consulting company and what not...

Cheers to you dude..keep up the good work !

Friday, December 02, 2005

"Red Cherry" for 55Friday.

This was my entry for Sepia Mutiny's 55Friday concept...this time the theme was red.

I have titled it "Red Cherry"...
Sweat pouring down his face as his tired body turned around
for what seemed like the final time, staring down his nemesis whom
he steamed towards. The sun was merciless as expected in an
Indian summer. At the height of his exertion, with a
tired grunt, he released the red cherry...

"OUT! Knocked down his stumps!"

A new order...

The latest column by Harsha Bhogle.

The following statements really struck a chord...

A final word though on what happened in Kolkata. I have rarely been as disheartened for a city with a reputation let itself down badly. I fear this trend of agitating for a particular player, of creating an us-and-them situation, is extremely dangerous. Where was reason, where was caution, where was class?

Rahul Dravid’s dignified but strong comments must hurt, but I am not sure they will. Sadly, as a result of this paranoia, Sourav Ganguly will walk out to bat at Chennai with a lot of people hoping he fails. That is the sad, but inevitable, situation that Kolkata brings upon itself and the man they try to promote but actually endanger.

I couldn't agree more...having watched the match live, I couldn't but be dismayed at the sight of an Indian audience booing our national team and applauding the fall of wickets (especially that of the captain of the national team) -- and for all the wrong reasons ! No man is bigger than the team, and if it is the case that a player must be dropped to make place for the future, then that hard decision must be taken, no matter who the player or his reputation. Sentiment can only go so far.

Also, I am less concerned about the Calcuttans expressing their dismay, than about the way they went about doing it...

  • Booing the Indian team & captain.
  • Applauding fall of wickets.
  • Showing highlights of Ganguly's innings on the big screen while the match was going on !
  • Even the curator of the pitch seems to have gotten into it - he prepared a South African-friendly pitch by the looks of caught everyone by surprise...most of all the visiting South African team !
And for a city that has been rapped on the knuckles on more than one occassion by the ICC (for unruly crowd behaviour, throwing objects on the field, disrupting games, etc.) this was not the way to go...I sincerely hope that Calcutta is derived of cricket matches in the future, in the interest of the game and the Indian cricket team.

Sigh ! What a waste of a lovely stadium...

Iraq strategy for dummies... "Evil genius" Karl Rove ! Check out the fictional book cover below...

Original link here.

Who did you get in your jury ?

People might be lining up to commit crimes to get famous jurors ! Or you may up your street cred in jails, because the next hot topic of discussion would go like...
Prisoner 1: "yeah, you know who was on MY jury...John Kerry! Yeah..."
Prisoner 2: "Oh yeah ! Well, MY jury had George Bush, the President! Beat that..."
Hard to imagine ? Well...apparently GW got his jury duty call up !

This was the response from the White House...
"We have since called the court to inform them that the president has other commitments on Monday, and that he would like to reschedule his jury duty"
Apparently President Bush is busy until 2009...wonder why ?

The above article also discusses how John Kerry was the foreman on a civil case.

Of course, the following sound bite also appeared on the statement issues by the white house...
"One serious note: jury duty is an important civic responsibility. And it's important that people do serve"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Two new parties.

Dustbury links to a post about two new political parties in the US.

Here's a snippet...
I'm beginning to think perhaps we need to get rid of the label Democrat and Republican. Those terms seem to mean less and less as time moves forward.

In a sort-of "truth in advertising" policy, we would have two political parties: The "Mama-Knows-Best" party and the "Just-Cut-Your-Damn-Hair-And-Get-A-Job" party.

The MKB would wrap each voter in a loving cocoon of security and safety. Well, it must be safe and secure cause you can't see outside the cocoon to see what is going on. In the MKB-led country, you would never need to worry about having to make those painful decisions about finance and religion. Of course, it is a very expensive cocoon, but you really shouldn't worry your little plebeian head about that.

The JCYDHAGAJ party wouldn't pay for much and wants you out of the house pretty quick. Cause they're tired of your lazy ass hanging around all day while they're out working their fingers to the bone. Life can be brutal and tough in the JCYDHAGAJ-led country, but, strangely enough, the country as a whole seems to get more done than the MKB-led country.

Incidentally, these descriptions don't necessarily correspond to our existing party alignments:

The Christian Right? MKB. Most leftists and statists? MKB.

Libertarians and small government Republicans? JCYDHAGAJ. Old School Democrats (Zell Miller)? JCYDHAGAJ.

I surmise some elements of the Christian right will object to putting Mama in charge — after all, that's Dad's job, isn't it? — but there's plenty of time to fine-tune the titles before the bumper stickers get printed.

Hilarious to say the least...but also scary - considering that most parties/ideologies that exist today seem to fall into one of the two categories !

Netaji ?

Varnam is running an excellent series about the truth behind Subash Chandra Bose's death.

Read the truth behind the scam that was the fake aircrash in which he was supposed to have died. Seems like the Nehru family had some hidden agenda in perpetuating the myth. Wonder why....

Gov. Schwarzenegger names top aide !

Well...part three of the times they are a changin' series that I have up and running.

An excerpt from a news report by Reuters...
California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named a Democrat in a same-sex marriage as his chief of staff on Wednesday in an apparent political shift on the heels of a major electoral defeat.
Well, well...a republican governor names a democrat as his top aide ! And that too one who is part of a same-sex marriage ! Wow, times are changing faster than I can keep up !

Previous posts on "the times they are a changin" series : 1, 2.

Various blogging styles.

According to Mister Snitch, there exist at least seven styles of successful bloggers.

Here is a short version of the list...
  • Meme-du-jour bloggers comment on the high-profile ideas of the moment. This type of blogger is usually focused on political issues.
  • Caterers determine what an audience segment wants to hear, and pursue that theme aggressively.
  • Nichebloggers, aka localbloggers. The subject is usually something the writer is passionate about, or has special expertise in.
  • Internet guides, such as Instapundit, create little original material. Their strength is that they are trusted link finders/filters.
  • The celebrity-blogger is someone whose site traffic comes from fame achieved outside of blogging.
  • The service blogger performs a service, often to the 'Meme' blogger (see 1).
  • The long-tail blogger is the rarest of successful breeds. This style requires consistent blogging over a long period of time (hence the rarity in a fairly new medium).
Original link from Instapundit.

Anti-foreign bias... put forth by Bryan Caplan in Econlog.

Here is his paper which discusses it in more detail.


Well, I got my fingers dirty and dug into html/css code and revamped Context Switch ! If anyone has been visiting it over the last couple of days, you would have noticed all sorts of wierd images, boundaries, fonts, etc. ! But it's all over now...yenjoy !

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Red Jihad ?

After the green jihad that has been causing problems all over the world, now it is the turn of the Maoists to try and recruit people !

And the interesting thing is, not only are they actively trying to recruit people, but they're offering cash incentives ! Maybe I don't get the commie philosophy, but paying cash to fight an ideological war ? Here is an interesting excerpt from that article...
the promise they have made to pay a monthly stipend, which reportedly is Rs 2,000 per head, and also a compensation, worth Rs 2 lakh, in case of ‘death in action’.
So, it is worthwhile to die for the cause, eh ? How is this different from the "x virgins on death concept"? (Well, at least, in this case, hopefully, the money goes to the family and is off actual use, rather than merrymaking in the afterlife ! ).

And another rather interesting statement...
That they are flush with funds is also borne out by the fact that several doctors in Patna admitted last week that they can identify the Maoists by their willingness to pay for expensive tests and medicine.
Where do these people get so much money from ? How come the communist parties of India do not make public statements against these terrorists? Yes, you read that right...their actions are no better than the various cowardly terrorist acts perpetuated around the world - cloaking it in a red idiological banner doesn't make it any better - but then again, we see that money forms the supreme ideology !

And as a friend said - "killer job satisfaction" !

Baaz nahi aayega !

Tropical cyclone "Baaz" was named so by S.K. Subramanian, the director of regional centre for for tropical cyclones.

Well, here's South Asia's answer to "Katrina" and "Rita".

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Incompetent Design.

Seed magazine carries an article about Don Wise, professor emeritus of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the nation's foremost proponent of ID. No, that's not Intelligent Design, but Incompetent Design.

From the Seed article...
Wise cites serious flaws in the systems of the human body as evidence that design in the universe exhibits not an obvious source of, but a sore lack of, intelligence.
Some of his reasons for believing in this concept...
  • The thing that perhaps is closest to all of us is our own skeleton, and there are certainly all kinds of stupidity in our design. No self-respecting engineering student would make the kinds of dumb mistakes that are built into us. All of our pelvises slope forward for convenient knuckle-dragging, like all the other great apes. And the only reason you stand erect is because of this incredible sharp bend at the base of your spine, which is either evolution's way of modifying something or else it's just a design that would flunk a first-year engineering student.
  • Look at the teeth in your mouth. Basically, most of us have too many teeth for the size of our mouth. Well, is this evolution flattening a mammalian muzzle and jamming it into a face or is it a design that couldn't count accurately above 20?
  • Look at the bones in your face. They're the same as the other mammals' but they're just squashed and contorted by jamming the jaw into a face with your brain expanding over it, so the potential drainage system in there is so convoluted that no plumber would admit to having done it!
"So is this evolution or is this plain stupid design?" he asks.

He even created a song/anthem for the concept, the lyrics of which are (sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic")...
"My bones proclaim a story of incompetent design.
My back still hurts, my sinus clogs, my teeth just won’t align.
If I had drawn the blueprint, I would cer-tain-ly resign.
Incompetent Design!
Evo-Evo-Evo-lution! Design is but a mere illusion.
Darwin sparked our revolution. Science SHALL prevail!"
Here a link to the video for the above song

This post is another in a series about Intelligent Design. Other posts in this series : 1, 2, 3, 4.

Sex and Chess ?

A New York Times article talks about how the chess world is trying yo spruce up its sexiness ! The main picture shows our very own Vishwanathan Anand playing a round of blitz chess with model Carmen Kass.

There even exists a web site for : World Chess Beauty Contest !

Update : Looks like Amit Varma and Sepia Mutiny beat me to the post on this one !

Another Update : Udayan Bapat, our very own local chessmaster, mailed me this link (and this one), which shows that this is an story ("controversy" in his words) that has been around for some time !

Getting technical about the little master.

Dileepan Narayanan has written an excellent post examing fine technical details about Sachin Tendulkar's batting and grip!

Link via Prem Panicker's Sight Screen.

Santa's Elves...

...are not in the Nordic countries, but here. And if you want to the reach the big guy via email, well, then try this site.

Monday, November 28, 2005

If Bangladesh has such high rates of development... the Human Developement Report suggests, then how come so many Bangladeshis are illegally crossing over to India ?

So, somewhere something is wrong !

Bone Herb.

A cactus-like plant used for long in traditional Indian medicine as a bone-healing agent has gained scientific credence. Scientists have found that the plant has key chemical ingredients required to make human bone, according to a report in the Telegraph.
In test-tube experiments, researchers at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) in Pune have shown that the plant, Cissus quadrangularis, is rich in both calcium and phosphorus, two major elements found in bones.
Another excerpt...
In an independent research effort two years ago, biochemists at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka had analysed the chemical composition of the plant and shown that it contains a high proportion of calcium and phosphorus.
Apparently, in some parts of India this plant is called haddi-joade !

Women get into it now...

Women are angry about statements made by RSS Chief, K S Sudarshan, where he asked Hindus to give birth to as many children as possible to make up for the lopsided demographics of India.

They state...
"It is implied in his statement that a woman's reproductive faculties are to be employed solely to fulfil the agenda of a Hindu nationalist state - like a reproductive machine"
Hmmm...well, first off, it really has nothing to do with a "nationalist state". Let me say that I don't condone his ideas on this matter - I mean that's just a knee-jerk reaction to a known problem - that of the demographics of India being in serious trouble. The solution, in my opinion, is an uniform civil code being implemented -- enforced if necessary. But demographics in a country such as India should be maintained - if not for anything else, but to keep radicals (of all religions) in check -- just because there exist 80% Hindus, doesn't mean that India is a Hindu nationalist state. On the contrary, the large majority of sensible Hindus will keep the ultra right-wing radicals in check, as much as possible. The large numbers will also (hopefully, and ideally) prevent radicals of other religions, backgrounds, etc. from forming a foothold and destroying the ancient and vast culture that is India.

Related posts in this series about demographics : 1, 2, 3.

RD !

Rohit Brijnath writes about Rahul Dravid and his cricketing philosophy. Great Stuff !

Some excerpts...
  • Dravid's baby son's name, Samit, so he says, means "collected", but it also translates as "composed". Maybe it's kismet, maybe it's just some strange coincidence that India's newest captain picked that particular name, but it is a definition that fits him tidily. They are qualities he holds dearly.
  • What he asks them is to focus on personal responsibility. To stand up and be counted. To look at themselves. To put in everything. To enjoy each other's success. What he's saying is not some wildly original idea, it's simple, but then so is sport, and it is only when these straightforward virtues become a personal hymn, when they are lived purely and constantly, that greatness arrives. Indian teams after all are famous for seemingly getting bored with playing well.
  • His philosophy is matter of fact. Wasters, complainers, the lethargic, those who say why did "X" get the new ball and not me, builders of cliques, players who don't smile at another man's success, these fellows need not apply, will not pass muster. Thanks, but no.

  • "It's very important to have the right people on board," he says. "We get caught up in visions and goals but it's first about getting the right people on the bus and wrong people off. If you have the right people, right attitude, right behaviour, you find a way."

Original link via Prem Panicker's Sight Screen.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Clickety Clack !

Do you like to click the mouse buttons ? Are you so used to it that you feel withdrawal symptoms if you don't click your mouse buttons at least once every so often ? Well, then check this out:
It seems like a radical new idea, don't you think ? Now, seriously, how many times did you feel that craving to click ? And how many times did you give in to it ?

Link via Wired magazine.

Stringing them along...

String theory has been around since the 60s, but for the last decade or so, it has gained popularity among theoretical physicists who have been looking for the theory of everything - that grand unification of all physics theories.

But various scientists don't take that view - they think that it lacks substance, and since it cannot be proved, it is more like a theory of anything - especially by Lawrence Krauss, a professor of physics at Case Western.

Here is an interesting excerpt from one of the above articles...

String theory proposes a solution that reconciles relativity and quantum mechanics. To get there, it requires two radical changes in our view of the universe. The first is easy: What we've presumed are subatomic particles are actually tiny vibrating strings of energy, each 100 billion billion times smaller than the protons at the nucleus of an atom.

That's easy to accept. But for the math to work, there also must be more physical dimensions to reality than the three of space and one of time that we can perceive. The most popular string models require 10 or 11 dimensions. What we perceive as solid matter is mathematically explainable as the three-dimensional manifestation of "strings" of elementary particles vibrating and dancing through multiple dimensions of reality, like shadows on a wall. In theory, these extra dimensions surround us and contain myriad parallel universes.

Well, what's the problem then ? Does this explain everything ? Apprently, no one has been able to prove anything experimentally, and only mathematical proofs have been put forward. As the article mentions...

compared to E=mc2, string theory equations look like spaghetti. And unfortunately for the aspirations of its proponents, the ideas are just as hard to explain in words.

And not only have they not been able to prove anything, they haven't even been able to devise an experiment to even try to prove it ! Ask any nobel prize winning theoretical physicist about how to prove it and his response starts with...

"Let's say we had a particle accelerator the size of the Milky Way …"


Shrinking storage mediums...

Apparently nature had cracked the technique for storing large amounts of data in a very small structure : DNA. An interesting article in Forbes about DNA computers and DNA storage.

Here is an interesting excerpt...
The first working computer made entirely of DNA was created in 1994 by Leonard Adleman, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California. In a teaspoon of water, he used a series of biochemical reactions to solve the famous “traveling salesman” problem (basically, how many ways can you get from New York to Cleveland while stopping in seven other cities in between?). The promise of the approach was that because each piece of DNA can function essentially as its own computer, it might be possible to use it to do as many as a quadrillion computations at once.

Rejecting God ?

Art Buchwald analyzes Dover's rejection of Intelligent Design, and Pat Robertson's warning about the imminent wrath of God on this small town.

His conclusion : Pat Robertson must be God !

Here is some of his reasoning...
  • he blamed the tornados in Kansas and Oklahoma on God's wrath.
  • he warned Florida that it would suffer hurricanes if it didn't reject homosexuality
  • Last summer he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. for thought !

Previous posts related to Intelligent Design : 1, 2, 3.

Reinventing the wheel...

...or at least patenting them !

Blog Mela !

Amit Varma has posted his latest blog mela. Makes for really interesting reading !

Well, yours truly finds a mention in it for the post about beer goggles in the Miscellaneous section.

Previous Times I have been mentioned on India Uncut : 1, 2.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Beer Goggles : secrets revealed.

The Registrar reports that researchers at the University of Manchester have discovered the true secrets behind the legendary "beer goggles" effect - by which, previously monstrous members of the opposite sex become strangely attractive after consumption of lager and that this may not have anything to do with the sheer volume of booze consumed !

Here are the other "factors"...
  • light levels in the establishment
  • beholder's eyesight
  • atmospheric smokiness
  • proximity to the object of desire
They also formulated a beer goggle scale (0 to 100+) as follows:
  • Less than one: No effect
  • 1-50: Person you would normally find unattractive appears less "visually offensive"
  • 51-100: Non-appealing person becomes suddenly attractive
  • More than 100: Someone not considered attractive looks like a super model we know the secret - chat up a short-sighted pretty girl in a low-lit, smoke-filled joint, from a distance of 15-20 feet ! That should get you....

The journal is dead...long live the journal !

Slashdot reports that the Royal Society (Britain's national academy of science), which publishes ones of the oldest journals in the world (Philosophical Transactions), states that "internet publishing of journals, would harm the exchange of knowledge of between researchers" !

I found the above statement from a well-respected society to lack an credibility ! Far from harming the exchange of information, internet publications enhance exchange of knowledge, simply by making it easier to locate and study relevant information.

Scroll down to read the comments in this article - very interesting views and ideas expressed here.

The times they are a changin...part two !

This is a series of posts about how changing times can seem ironic, funny, poignant, and sad at times...this particular post, falls in the last category.

For decades, centuries even, the Japanese have been highly respected for their code of ethics, for their attention to detail and a rigorous discipline. But sadly, that seems to be the case no more.

Nothing shows this downward trend, as much as this article in the New York Times, about an architect, Hidetsugu Aneha, who cut costs in various building projects over the last decade, mainly to win more projects, and built structures that wouldn't even stand a moderate earthquake ! This is intolerable in a country that worries about the problems of earthquakes, to the point of extreme paranoia, mainly due to the fact that their country and major cities lie on some of the most volatile fault lines on the planet.

Here is an excerpt from the article...
Night after night, television news programs feature video clips of tearful condominium owners moving out of their new apartments, while construction company owners, inspectors and the architect involved in the deficient buildings blame one another for the failings. So far, seven hotels have been forced to close, including a 260-room tower that opened in August near the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Previous posts on the "the times they are a changin' series" : 1

Left Party !

China's most popular blog, belongs to 25 year old Mu Mu, who claims to be a member of the Communist party from Shanghai. Here is how she arrived on the blog scene...
"I am a dance girl, and I am a party member. I don't know if I can be counted as a successful Web cam dance girl, but I'm sure that looking around the world, if I am not the one with the highest diploma, I am definitely the dance babe who reads the most and thinks the deepest, and I'm most likely the only party member among them."
She appears online most evenings around midnight, striking poses that are provocative, but not sexually explicit.

Well, if there is one way to break down some stiff-necked beaureaucracy, then this is it !

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ministers Taxed ?

An article by Ashok Mitra in the Telegraph about Ministers and their utter disrespect of tax laws - he starts with an example of the Finance Minister himself...
The finance minister walked into a blunder. He should not have delayed the filing of his return on income till the last permissible date, but should have done it much earlier, on the first day of April. The gimmick sent the most wrong kind of message to the public: be as slovenly as you can be in rendering your accounts to society.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The times they are a changing... said Bob Dylan. Nothing shows it more than the following news article...

On Sunday, Shis Sena supremo Bal Theckeray's nephew’s daughter Neha Gupte, 25, married Mohammad Nabi, 27 !

Some interesting exceprts from the article...
  • The wedding was kept a secret from his famous mama by Vilas Gupte. “I haven’t had the courage to tell him yet, but I’m sure Bal mama will bless the couple,” said Gupte, an anxious but proud father, at the reception.
  • By all available reports, the bride converted to Islam and had a nikaah three months ago at Bandra (West), a posh Mumbai suburb. “They had the nikaah three months ago in Bandra, which was attended by Neha’s friends,” confirmed Mohammed Qayoom, the groom’s brother.
  • The bride and her father are denying the conversion. Asked if she changed her religion for the nikaah as is mandatory, Neha smiled and said: “I don’t need to convert, I have a very adjusting husband.”

Indian Economic changes...

Here is an article about how Indians are replacing cars faster.

Could it be because salaries have gone up by 13.9 % ?

Gubernatorial Drag !

A state governor from Nigeria, facing money-laundering charges in Britain, was given a hero's welcome in his own country, after he escaped from Britain. He was also given the title "master of deception" ! Apparently he laundered over $ 1.8 million !

It gets more interesting - he escaped via the Channel tunnel on the Eurostar.

Not spicy enough ? Well, he did it by dressing up as a woman !

Why, life can just drag on, can it not ?

Also, a British security source is supposed to have said...
"Our borders are not too secure"
Duh ! Really ?

Supercars !

Forbes has compiled a list of supercars !

It includes classic names such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Corvette, Aston Martin and so on...of course the one that causes most jaws to drop, is the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo ! It goes from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds !!! As the correspondent for the story states...
We just timed ourselves with a stopwatch. It took us 2.8 seconds to say, "Zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds." Now imagine going from a stop to freeway speed in the time it takes to say, "Zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds." Now you understand why this car costs over half a million dollars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Insert object - get art !

The Vienna-based collective group, Gelitin, has an interesting new art form...making "artful replicas" can place any object - any object rather into a box, and then you get an artful hand-made replica of it !

Here is an excerpt from the New York Times article...
Gelitin itself has remained all the while invisible. What you'll see while visiting Koenig, at 545 West 23rd Street, is a sealed, space-hogging wooden box, the size of a small house or a pre-1970's mainframe computer. It has two extensions; one like a cabinet, the other like a top-loading chest. You are invited to place an object, any object, into the chestlike extension. Close the hatch. A yellow light goes on. You hear a sliding sound and a clunk. Your item has temporarily disappeared into the big box, just as dozens of others have, including wallets, photographs, specially made items (artists have brought their own work) and, memorably, a 2-year-old child. (The daughter of another Koenig artist, Erik Parker, spent a few hours in the box, emerging delighted but respectfully mum about her experiences - the Gelitin team had sworn her to secrecy.)

Great new Fundamental right.

There is a new bill being tabled at this session of the Lok Sabha - one that adds on a new fundamental right - the right to education !

Hopefully this will provide some impetus to force states and the nation as a whole to provide equitable education to every citizen of India.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jana Gana Mana...

A really well-made version of Jana Gana Mana.

It features a who's who of Indian music, with the score produced by none other than AR Rahman.

Malayalam Literature/Cinema.

Amit Varma, in a series of posts, links to and talks about writers in local languages and problems that they face, especially increasing "globalisation" trends, due to which people now consider knowledge of English a "superior" trait ! I think the argument may be extrapolated for local language movie industries as well...for all, except probably one particular indian language...

While I do believe that many excellent authors who write in their local languages face a diminishing readership, malayalam literature (another link), with its vast array of talented writers, is still able to hold its own. Stalwarts in malayalam literature such as MT Vasudevan Nair, OV Vijayan, Thakazhi Sivasankaran Pillai, Vayalar Ramavarma, Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, Vaikkom Mohammad Basheer, etc., still command enormous respect and readership across all age groups of Kerala (and expat, fraud* malayalees) -- in fact, perhaps more than indian authors who write in English (yes, definitely more popular than Arundhati Roy), or popular english language books. Many have gone on to win great literary awards (including the Jnanpith Award). While some of these writers have passed on, their works and movies/television serials/plays/etc. inspired by their works, still remain immensely popular - within cities and towns as well as the rustic countryside of Kerala. To find someone who lives there and has not heard of or even read and admired at least one of the seminal works of any of the above authors, is well, a next-to-impossible task, in my opinion. In fact, they have inspired many authors in succeeding generations, (V C Sreejayan comes immediately to my mind), who are also popular.

A related topic, perhaps, is malayalam cinema. While malayalam has seen its share of "blockbusters" and lavish locales and song-and-dance sequences that are prevalent throughout most of Indian cinema, most popular movies have been of the intelligent, thought-provoking variety. They encompass the complete spectrum of movie-making -- social issues, personal relationships, soul-searching and character studies, comedies, intense tragedies, family entertainers, literary adaptations, and even action movies ! And very rarely will you find tacky movies being produced in this film industry. The most interesting part, is that what the rest of the world would consider "art"/"off-beat" cinema will run to packed movie halls in Kerala, which has been proven time and again, by Adoor Gopalakrishnan (IMDB link), who has been a prominent influence in the industry for decades now, and has been responsible for many films (Elippathayam, Mathilukal, Vidheyan, etc.) that have brought national and international repute to Malayalam and Indian cinema in general. Jayaraaj, with his vast array of relatively low-budget, intense, social movies, is in my opinion, one of the finest directors of all time. Many of his movies (Paithrekam, Kaliyattam, 4 the People, etc.) have not only been fantastic movies with cult followings, but have also topped box-office charts and find a special place in our hearts. Other prominent filmmakers include -- Fazil, I. V. Sasi, Priyadarshan, Sreenivasan, etc. (the list of talented directors is really long actually). Various malayalam actors, actresses, directors, musicians, etc. have received state, national and international awards for their performances/creativity on numerous occasions (Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Shobhana, Yesudas, etc.).

Be warned though, that the public in Kerala is highly intelligent, educated and well-read. Mediocre or sub-standard efforts are treated with as much disdain as in the rest of the country - perhaps even more. In fact, a big name does not equate to instantaneous success -- many of the people mentioned above have had to find out the hard way !

So what makes Kerala and malayalis in general different ? If I were to venture a guess (an educated one at that), I'd say it is
  • the high rate of literacy -higher than 90% in most places, and as high as 100% in some villages and districts
  • education at the primary level in the local language (which not only provides increased knowledge about the cultural, literary and historical traditions of the state, but also instills a sense of pride in them).
So, while I do believe that many indian languages are under threat from English and may be pushed into inferior roles in the cultural domain, what is perhaps necessary, is not just translations to make the works available to wider audiences, but to ensure that people from each state are made aware of depth of their cultures from the grassroots level. Even schools that are "english-medium" must make an effort to educate children about their local cultures. This is perhaps the only way to ensure that the English langauge does not corrode the vast cultural history of India.

* fraud malayalis - people who were raised outside of the state of Kerala (yours truly included) !

Sunday, November 20, 2005

And the saga continues...

The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Babulal Gaur, has decided to do away with the two-child eligibility norm that debars people with more children from contesting panchayat elections or retaining posts. This comes closely after statements by RSS Chief, K S Sudarshan.

Well, the Sangh Parivar seems to be getting warmed up to this idea all over the place !

Read another related post.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Migrants fuel economy.

Remittances from migrant workers back to their home countries reached close to $ 232 billion last year, according to the World Bank *. This eclipsed the annual income of many nations around the world, and are an important source of external funding in many nations around the world, as the figure+ shows...
Of course, India leads the way with nearly 10% of that amount - $ 21.7 billion !

Here are the leaders...
  • India : $ 21.7 billion
  • China : $ 21.3 billion
  • Mexico : $ 18.7 billion
  • France : $ 11.6 billion
Here is an interesting excerpt...
Analysis of household surveys indicates that remittances have been associated with significant declines in poverty (headcounts) in several low-income countries, including Uganda (11 percent), Bangladesh (six percent) and Ghana (five percent). In addition, remittances appear to help households maintain their consumption levels through economic shocks and adversity. They are also associated with increased household investments in education and health, as well as increased entrepreneurship.
Basically, this money goes directly to the people and aid significantly in improving people's lifestyles and reducing poverty.

* - link via Sepia Mutiny
+ - figure from the above World Bank Report.

Now don't get busy...

Just in case you were encouraged by statements by RSS Sarasanghachalak, K S Sudarshan, hold on...

The RSS has made the following statement in a press release...
The Sangh maintains that the statement has been taken out of context and was supposed to just highlight the need for a uniform civil code.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A 30 million year headstart !

African swallowtail butterflies have been found using technology that was previously thought to belong exclusively to humans - advanced technology at that. They use high-efficiency photonic crystals like those in light-emitting diodes (LEDs) !

Now we just wait for the lawyers from either side to get involved in the nasty patent battles that will ensue !

Thursday, November 17, 2005

God's Debris...

Scott Adams' book "God's Debris" is available for free download in an e-book format.

Be warned's not a Dilbert book...

Here's a synopsis...
Imagine that you meet a very old man who—you eventually realize—knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life—quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light, psychic phenomenon, and probability—in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? God's Debris isn’t the final answer to the Big Questions. But it might be the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what’s wrong with the old man’s explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.
And here is a link to the actual pdf version of the book.

Where no cow has gone before !

The BJP government is Madhya Pradesh plans to sell gomutra (cow urine) in co-operative dairy milk booths all across Madhya Pradesh !

A statement from Archana Chitnis, state minister for Animal Husbandry...

“Science has proved that urine of the Indian breed of cow has medicinal properties. We want the society to benefit. Why should people be put off by products based on cow urine?”
Incidentally, this is the second post today where BJP/RSS has been in the news due to some bizarre ideas. Here is the other post.

Hum do Hamare 17 ?

RSS Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan is calling upon fellow Hindus to go forth and multiply: ”produce” at least three children each. And even 17 !

His statements...

  • “Not less than three, you should produce as many as possible (teen se kam nahi, aap jitna jyada kar sakein utna achcha),’’
  • Hindus not to get into the trap of slogans like ‘‘hum do, hamare do’’ and ‘‘hum do, hamara ek’’ so as to to keep the “demographic composition” of India intact.
"What ?" You exclaim...wait...he has logic and mathematics to prove his point...
  • a couple with 12 sons were likely to be survived by a 1,200-strong progeny after 120 years.
  • couple with one with 11 sons would have 1,100 successors
  • Those with three sons, would have 38 descendants
  • couples with two sons would show a zero increase
  • “The family-line of people with one son would be snapped,’’
Apparently the Hindu Munnani had invited him to felicitate the most prolific mother as "veer mata", where else, but in Tamil Nadu. A woman claimed that she had 17 children ! And she was ready to have more, based on his advice ! if the number of Tamilians weren't enough ! ;)

Adopt a Pothole ?

Bangalore's pot holes ? Well, here is a site that tracks the pot holes on the roads of Bangalore !
Of course, the statement I found most hilarious was "Adopt a PotHole" ! But in a more serious vein, what better way for India's "Silicon Valley" to address social issues than to start a web-portal ?

Link via India Uncut.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Swiss Financial Terrorist !

A Swiss businessman, Nessim D. Gaon, has been doggedly trying to collect a debt from Russia for the past 14 years. Here are his "attempts "...
  • His most recent attempt was trying to seize 54 French paintings from the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow that had been on display in Switzerland.
  • filed suit to seize President Vladimir V. Putin's personal jet. (The French government had to intervene.)
  • In 2000, he managed to impound a Russian sailing ship in the French port of Brest - along with its crew - for 11 days until another court overturned the seizure.
  • He nearly appropriated two Russian fighter jets at an air show in Paris a year later.
Well, that's a fine way to go about doing business !

FDA thinks pill too "bitter" to swallow.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after" pill, although it had been classified as a contraceptive by its own experts !

Of course, this is drawing criticisms from all sorts of people, as it seems to reek of political pressures. Well and truly possible in my opinion.

Another report related to the same issue.

Indian doc stems ahead...

Dr. Geeta Shroff, a doctor in Delhi, has said that she has transplanted embryonic stem cells into nearly 100 patients suffering from degenerative brain disorders and paralysis.

To quote her...
"The results have been good. Patients have improved. They have had no deterioration and no side effects."
She said she had used extra embryos generated by clinics, which offer test-tube baby services, as the source of the stem cells.

Well, her results haven't been verified yet, but either way, it leads to some interesting questions...

Friday, November 11, 2005

"Ethics" Class !

Christopher Buckley, in the New York Times puts up an imaginary ethics class in light of the recent announcement by the White House that it will conduct ethics classes for all of it staffers.

Let us pray, that this is imaginary !

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pictures from the Valley...

Indian Express has published some pictures from Kashmir, post-earthquake...

The first picture was what hit me the hardest.

This is a follow-up to an earlier post of mine.

Farce ?

Much along the lines of the shooting of a Brazilian electrician following the London subway bombings, it seems like the authorities investigating the recent Delhi bomb blasts also have committed a snafu...

Thankfully, no lives were lost ! Anyways, in India, we have grown hearing stories about how "the Police, if they doesn't find the thief, then they make a thief of whoever they can get their hands on". *

Well, at least that is what it seems like now...who knows how this drama will unfold in the future...for all you know, they may find that perhaps he is the one after all...enough twists and turns to inspire an Ekta Kapoor soap..what say ?

* Crudely translated from Malayalam: "Kallane kittiyilangil, kittiyavane kallanakkum".