31-Aug-2005

Too Many Fricking Cooks Says Mayor

An entire city is under water, in the most powerful country on earth. And it is not the residents but the mayor who is cursing:
"There is way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen," (New Orleans Mayor) Nagin said in a phone interview ..., fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district.
New Orleans apparently has a river on one side and a lake on the other. And the city itself is 10 feet below the level of the water. So they have levees to hold the water back. These seem to have been breached and the water is finding its level. Things appear to be really bad. It could be months before the residents are even let back into the city - and what they would do when they return is anybody's guess.

Mumbai got off light in comparison.

30-Aug-2005

Performance Appraisals

Elsewhere,
A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.
Haliburton is the company where the current veep of the country previously worked. The contract is for $5 billion over 5 years. The company also has other contracts going, all for big amounts, that she has been criticising also.

She has been working there for 20 years. Her performance was apparently very good till she started speaking up:
Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said.
More grist for the mills of those who distrust performance appraisals.

22-Aug-2005

Two Factoids For New Couples/Parents

Two things soon-to-be and new parents learn - usually too late.

1. One of the first things the lady doctor prescribes for a soon-to-be mom, along with anti-morning sickness medicine, is folic acid. This is something which is supposed to prevent nueral-tube disorders in the baby. Only thing is, as the above site points out, it is too late to be taking it at this stage. Sufficient amounts of it needs to be present in the gravida beforehand.

2. The second thing parents learn is to time the whole thing correctly. Timing counts. This they discover when they go around to montessories seeking admission for their kid. They find that certain schools - which somehow happen to be the ones they want to put their kid into - have a rule about the age of the kid at the beginning of the term. Say the montessory term begins in June of every year. The rule is that every kid who wants admission should be between 2.5 and 3 years as of 1 June. Some schools narrow it down even further - the kid should be between 2.8 and 3 years.

So I'm thinking of a new kind of marriage gift. A plaque engraved with these words
1. Folic Acid : Do You Have It In You?
2. A Kid Born Between June And December, Is The Kid Who Goes To School
I might even turn it into a nice little haiku one of these days.

Update: The haiku happened earlier than I expected:
Folic Acid: d'you have it in you?
And y'know your kid must be born 'tween Jun & Dec
To even get into the admission queue.
Ok, I promised a nice haiku. But is it an haiku at all? Is everything with three lines strung together a haiku? Because it somehow doesn't seem right. Still, it was a sincere attempt.

Seinology

For Seinfeld fans. All the scripts.

19-Aug-2005

TOI - Adults Only

sj had written
Look at Times of India, especially the Bangalore Times supplement. Yes, it does help kids develop their General Knowledge - but of a different kind. Why not impose a ban on such tabloid newspapers.
His wish may be granted, though not with a ban, and not by the government. The Supreme Court is working on it. Our prayers are with the petitioners. Wouldn't it be supremely befitting if ToI were forced to warn its readers on the front page, just below the name
This newspaper contains sexually explicit material. It is not suitable for children aged 18 years and below. Parental discretion advised.
Appealing as the thought is, much more so is the hope that parents vote with their wallets and cease letting this vile newspaper into their homes.

18-Aug-2005

Them And Us

Elsewhere, a governor (equivalent to a chief minister in our country I suppose) is charged
for failing to disclose disclose 52 gifts, including dinners, golf games and professional hockey tickets, worth about $5,800.
That would be less than three lakh rupees. And he resigns on being charged.

17-Aug-2005

Gods Must Be Crazy Stories

UK police said Monday they were searching for a man wearing just a diaper, who approaches women late at night and asks: "Are there any baby changing facilities around here?"
Here. The police are on the case. They describe his behaviour as "bizarre and a cause for concern".

And cows in Russia are going to enjoy this winter. They will be fed marijuana. A Federal Drugs Control Service spokeswoman for the Urals region of Sverdlovsk, where this will take place, says "I don't know what the milk will be like after this."

Feel Good Stories

A shop without a shopkeeper. Makes Rs 400 - 500 per day. True.

14-Aug-2005

Feel Good Stories

Or, to put it without the editorial content, travellers' tales:
As we reached our room in the resort, the attendant apologised that he had forgotten to put towels in the bathroom. In broken Arabic, we said that was not a big problem. He promptly asked whether we were from Hind. After confirming that we were, but haven't seen Amitabh Bachchan in person (which would have been the next question), we found that our broken Arabic had won him over. Before leaving the room, with his thumb up and a palm laid over his chest he gestured that Indians are keda (great) and close to the heart of Egyptians. This is what we had repeatedly heard with a lot of warmth, over the past fourteen months.
Egypt. Who would thought it! One travels and learns. And some who don't travel, learn by reading about others' travels. More:
Being Indians, in a crowd of Italian and Spanish vacationers gave us certain advantages. On a glass- bottomed boat that would take us to the underwater treasure-trove at the centre of the Red Sea, the guide made room for us at a vantage point. The waiter at the seaside restaurant promptly put us at a table by the window. All the time we felt out of place amid European tourists with their tanned limbs and designer swimsuits, the Egyptians were trying to make us feel at home. Even a plebian would mention how we hailed from the ancient cultures of the world and had a lot more in common than we knew.
And Mithun makes them cry.

12-Aug-2005

Correction

I'd asked why no one gets convicted in riot cases in this post. I had my facts wrong. Some have been convicted in the '84 riots, via the Vijay Times. However, as the article notes, only 25 people convicted for some 2743 killings (emphasis mine). Small compared to the 587 cases registered, out of which 241 cases were filed as "untraced", and 243 acquitted. The untraced in question being the accused.

As the lawyer for the victims says in the article, re-opening the cases may not solve much:
After all these years, where can they find evidence? Who will identify and trace the killers?

11-Aug-2005

The "Credible Evidence"

IE has the two affidavits which the Commission refers to while concluding that there is "credible evidence" against Mr Tytler.

More Equal Than The Rest Of Us

3000 deaths. Why would two resignations even seen to be enough as punishment for them? Why are politicians treated so differently compared to ordinary citizens?

True, the PM has promised to re-open cases against those named. But nothing will come out of the re-opened cases, will it? Which brings us to another related question. What is it about riots that no one is ever held responsible? These are instances of us killing our own people. Instigated and/or helped by elected representatives and public officials. Reasonless killing of helpless, unarmed, terrified people. What kind of people are they who do it? Why should they not be punished in a manner befitting the crime?

And it appears that the whole truth is still not known. Why not try what Kuldip Nayar suggests here? The truth would be at least cathartic. But I guess we are still far away from that stage which would allow such things to happen.

Maturity

Mature nations ... know who they are, strengths, weaknesses and all, and neither strut nor cringe before others. Nations can be mature before they are economically developed. Indeed, maturity may facilitate development.
Makes sense to me. From here.

09-Aug-2005

No One To Pay

The Nanavati report is out. And no one will pay for what they did then apparently. Someone from the Minorities Commission said it best I think:
People are hanged when a conspiracy is suspected, and here the guilty are going around free
or something to that effect. I don't know which hanging he is referring to exactly, but the sentiment sure agrees with me. 3000 people massacred and no one pays for it? Shame.