Friday, December 30, 2005
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.
Monday, December 26, 2005
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
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?Also, as a friend of mine asked after the Volcker report and the Natwar Singh issue...
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.
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.
- Sahara India paid Rs 330 crores for displaying their logo on the players' shirts
- Nike paid Rs. 196.66 crores for kit sponsorship
Previously Juventus held the record at : $ 22.2 million per year.
Good...now 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
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.
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
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
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. FutureMe.org is based on the principle that memories are less accurate than emails. we strive for accuracy.
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...
Other posts related to this story : 1.
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.
I agree especially after the recent ridiculous decision to change Bangalore's name to Bengaluru.
Original link from Desipundit.
Friday, December 16, 2005
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...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!
"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."
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."
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
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.
- Vyasa's Dissertation
- Chapter 1 - 60-year old virgin
- Chapter 2 - Indecent proposal
- Chapter 3 - Bride and Prejudice
- Chapter 4 - Meet the Focker
- Chapter 5 - The very secret diary of Amba
- Chapter 6 - Forrest Hump
Monday, December 12, 2005
Here's my favourite from the list (at number 8)...
Uk2net for an e-mail to a customer - "YOUR EMAIL DID NOT REACH A HUMANOID. IT ONLY REACHED REPLICANT LEVEL 1. E-MAIL ARRIVING FROM HERE ARE SPOOLED FOR AUTOMATIC CHECKING AND WILL NOT BE READ BY HUMANOIDS."
Sunday, December 11, 2005
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.
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 ?
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.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...
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.
Well, he is dedicated...we have all known that for a long time.
“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,”
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
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
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!"
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 it...it caught everyone by surprise...most of all the visiting South African team !
Sigh ! What a waste of a lovely stadium...
Prisoner 1: "yeah, you know who was on MY jury...John Kerry! Yeah..."Hard to imagine ? Well...apparently GW got his jury duty call up !
Prisoner 2: "Oh yeah ! Well, MY jury had George Bush, the President! Beat that..."
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
Here's a snippet...
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 !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.
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....
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.
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).