What on earth!

The Times of India admits that sensationalism got it in the neck this time :
India's media-on-steroids may well owe a mea culpa for falling all over a story without taking even the elementary step of e-mailing or phoning NASA or looking up its extensive website, to confirm its authenticity.
Forget e-mailing/phoning NASA. The President is nearer home isn't he - and the time zone is same too.

Added to the sloppiness, TOI apparently could not resist taking a pot shot at the Hindustan Times:
...It first appeared in The Tribune on February 8. It was picked up by the Hindustan Times on February 11, followed by other newspapers
However, seeing that it appeared prominently on the front page of the Times of India too, one would expect it to take a bit of the blame. But no. Who knows, readers may have forgotten that TOI did carry the news on Friday, 18 February and may even applaud themselves on their good sense in opting for it instead of all those other unreliable sources. But in fairness to TOI, this seems a popular ploy. No one else is admitting that 'they' were wrong either. It's always a hazy 'it was widely reported', 'nearly all of Indian media' etc...

No marks to BBC, NDTV, Hindustan Times, Times Of India for carrying the news. Also, the BBC and Times of India websites seem to have been attacked by a very selective link-eating monster.

Full marks to the Deccan Herald, The Hindu for not carrying it.

Now, there is a guy who surfaces repeatedly during IT.com who has apparently rejected offers from Microsoft and Network Solutions at the tender age of sixteen. What's the scoop on him?


Scientist says not all men are rational

Well not in so many words. But see what Dr Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has to say while reporting that global warming is real:
'The debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now over, at least for rational people.'' (Italics mine)
Who dare disagree when the theory of evolution can be considered only as valid as creationism, and - closer home - astrology considered fit to be taught in universities, and politicians carry magnetic compasses to determine where to sit while submitting election forms.

But is it desparation or hopelessness that jumps out in that statement? Or resignation?

Democracy works

Just needs a little careful management. You can't always trust people to get the right message. You need to help them a little. Read about the latest instance of democracy at work at the world's most powerful democracy on my other blog here or go directly to this from New York Times.

I remember there were some noises made about the media a little while ago back at home in India too. One no longer hears about it. The end of it or just a temporary hiatus?


Aero India 2005

Trip cancelled. However, I made it to the Aero India show. Here are some snaps from there.

The show began with an awesome display by the Sarang helicopters. They stood my assumption about helicopters and their skills on its head.

An Mi-8, part of the Sarang team Posted by Hello

The Sarangs display Posted by Hello

The show ended with the Suryakiran display which was spectacular.

Suryakirans - 1 Posted by Hello

Suryakirans - 2 Posted by Hello

Suryakirans - 3 Posted by Hello

Suryakirans -4 Posted by Hello

What about the middle? I'll have more on that in 2007 when the next show is scheduled - IF I do get a zoom lens of sufficient power by then :-) To recap quickly - there was the British Hawk blowing smoke rings up above. And the Sukhoi which was the most eagerly awaited; it amazed everyone. The little Hansa was also there - but it made little noise which I mean literally. Of course, our own LCA was there too.

The crowd was appreciative and the pilots obliging. One could almost say there was love in the air. See the next one if you don't believe me.

Love was in the air Posted by Hello


On the passing away

Of Arthur Miller, there is this from the New York Times via Deccan Herald. No I don't know anything about Arthur Miller other than that he is a playwright and even then I keep getting confused between him and the other one - the 'Tropic of Cancer' Miller. But I found the article good. It rings a few warning bells for Americans and some for us too I suppose. Like here:
Arthur Miller, in his autobiography, Timebends, quoted the great physicist Hans Bethe as saying, “Well, I come down in the morning and I take up a pencil and I try to think...”

It’s a notion that appears to have gone the way of the rotary phone. Americans not only seem to be doing less serious thinking lately, they seem to have less and less tolerance for those who spend their time wrestling with important and complex matters.

If you can’t say it in 30 seconds, you have to move on. God made man and the godless evolutionists are on the run. Donald Trump (“You're fired!”) and Paris Hilton (“That’s hot!”) are cultural icons.

And this:
“The longer I worked, the more certain I felt that as improbable as it might seem, there were moments when an individual conscience was all that could keep a world from falling.”

For the United States, which had launched a misguided, pre-emptive war in Iraq, is shipping prisoners off to foreign countries to be tortured and has pressed the rewind button on matters of social progress, this may be one of those moments.
And this definitely:
Mr Miller understood early that keeping the population entertained was becoming the paramount imperative of the US. Americans are now all but buried in entertainment and the republic is running amok.
The last quote is quite relevant for India too I guess. TV as the opium of the masses and classes.

Scientific study of love

Came across this in the Right in the Middle section of Deccan Herlad :
Scientific studies have revealed that ‘love is, beyond cavil or question, the most important experience in the life of a human being’.
Italics added by me. A case of lax writing or have such studies actually been done and is work ongoing on this important topic? Let's do a Google search and find out shall we? So, here goes.

This is about one such study by Harry F Harlow done around 1957 - and the only one I think. It studies the effect of mother love. On baby rhesus monkeys. And even then he could only conclude that normal behaviour depended on a wide array of affectional ties - that is, not only on love.

Here a writer, writing for an esoteric organization called ISSSEEM, admits a bit ruefully that "the scientific study of love and physical health is in its infancy'. She is a Ph.D. Ruefully because I think they badly wanted it to be otherwise. It's an imperfect world.

Nevermind, things could change since there is this non-profit 'dedicated to the Philosophy, Science and Technology of Love' (Italics mine). They even have a manuscript in two volumes on the subject.

Then there are the religion-science-people with their eternal quest. One such site, quite uncharacteristically I think, titles its love-related page thus:
Love makes scientists go bananas
Not much science to be found there I suspect. This one I thought held much promise, until I realised they had love all wrong :

The essence of love is to affectively affirm as well as to unselfishly delight in the well-being of others...
Where did they get that from?

I'm giving it up as lax writing. Gets one's goat, such stuff.

Boggling the imagination

Still on the theme of crime, Deccan Herlad reports that the public auction of three of the stamp-scam kingpin Telgi's prime properties in Bangalore turned out to be a damp squib. Only one was picked up, at the starting price, and that by the owner of the adjacent property. The owner is a well-known hotel group. Other two auctions put off 'sine die' after officials "waited all day for a prospective buyer." That must boggle the imagination of anyone who's been to property auctions conducted by the BDA in Bangalore in the recent past.

Seems inevitable though - not sure if anyone involved expected any other outcome. Sometimes, we are called on to make a decision : get involved with a gangster's lot or not? And we wisely choose the latter and are safe.

Why do they do it?

This from the Times Of India. Apparently the Dawood man in custody is verily spilling the beans. It has more details on what exactly he says about the actress Nagma. TOI does not mention if it is the well-known actress or her obscure namesake. The photograph in the hard copy is of the former. If it is her and he is talking the truth, the question arises: why did she do it? Did she do it for love? Did she do it for money? Did she think she had to? (With apologies to the Don himself. The full lyrics for the song are here)

Or is it just that Bollywood people are asked to make a decision that the rest of us aren't: you're with us or we'll get you? And everyone chooses according to him/herself?


How to make a pot of hot mud

Go here if you want to get the lowdown on making coffee. Crisp, fresh advice. As a sample, here's the summary (from the site):
All you really need to know to make a perfect cup of coffee is a basic understanding of cheminstry and physics. And if I catch you mucking about with that instant crap, I'll break your neck.
He's a coffee-lover clearly.

In fact, go read it even if you don't want to know how to make a cup of the divine liquid. It's good reading. And it does tell you how to make a pot of mud too.


Biddle - what's that?

When I mentioned that my son said his first word 'biddle' in more than a year in this post, I probably should've added that he actually meant 'squirrel'. It was a shock to me at that time. A pleasant one, however, and one for which I and his mom had been waiting for some time. I'm sure many first-time parents feel this way. Even with all the modern ideas on letting kids be themselves and not weighing them down with your expectations, it is a bit disconcerting when you hear that a similar-aged nephew is addressing all his near relatives by their titles, and here is the little chip off the old block refusing to utter! We had eagerly followed all the well-known milestones - eye contact, eye movement , rolling over, sitting up, crawling. He seemed to be doing ok, except for this strange reticence.

Anyway, one day we - the chip and I - were taking our customary post-lunch walk round the park when he suddenly turned around in my arms pointing animatedly at a squirrel that was moving around in fits and bursts as those animals normally do. And then he said it. His first word since being born, a bit over a year prior to that day. I would never have guessed what he meant of course if I had not seen the little striped creature. This lack of precision is common in the initial stages I believe, as this bible states. And what a relief too!

But why 'squirrel', when the popular notion is that the first words are: amma/ma/papa/pa? After all, we figured much more in his life than the tiny little animal. The reason is passion I suppose. At that stage of his life he was still pretty much intrigued by things that moved around on the ground and trees and in the air. Non-human things basically. And squirrels were pretty rare and he had seen them only from a bit far off. That day, it was quite close and I suppose that really stirred him.

So, as is commonly said, you cannot achieve anything without a passion for it. Amen.


Some more snaps

I'm in the mood to post some more photos - ok, just two, not too many. Both from a trip - to Kabini.

Herons Posted by Hello

Pond on the safari Posted by Hello


Gandhi and an Italian ad

Got this from a friend yesterday. It's an Italian ad which has won an award at Epica 2004 - and it features mainly Gandhi.

It's simple, powerful and beautiful. True, the ad uses him to sell a product. But if the creator(s) of the ad felt and wanted to convey all that seems to be in it. If they really did. Wow! Then what a sublime ad!

PS: The above link was not working for some time. This was. Both are working now though.
PS2: This will work forever (if Google shuts shop isn't it the end of the world and time as we know it?)

And it did too.

The rain I mean. Though it was not the big one that I expected. Just enough to get the soil bacteria to start releasing their spores a bit. And the next morning was a drizzly one.

And yes, I'm making the trip next week. Maybe I'll get some rainy day snaps. Like this one ...

Sky pouring down - Horanadu Posted by Hello

And history always is of the past right? So 'past history' might be a case of wrong English?


Rain again

It should be raining again soon. The sky's been completely woolly and grey the past two days. After the teaser spell last week, this time I think it will be a big one.

So, end of the dry days, and all those days are gone when I could have been riding on my Bullet somewhere - maybe the western ghats, maybe all the way up. But going by past history, maybe now is when the trip will materialise after all. All my past trips have been stories of completely inundation!