January 30, 2004
What did this mother smoke before going to bed? Wouldn't that infant scream if a rat is gnawing at her eye? How couldn't she hear those screams, if she was sleeping besides the baby? People, who can't protect their kids from rodents, shouldn't be allowed to have kids. And this woman had FOUR.
Arshi, a 22-day-old infant, died in Byculla after rats ate one of her eyes on Wednesday morning. Scared residents of Haji Kassim Chawl on Qazi Pura Street, Byculla, where the incident occurred, are now buying rat poison, air guns and traps to safeguard themselves from the rodent menace.
“She was sleeping beside me on the floor and was all right till around 2 am, when I breastfed her. It was only at 6 am that I found she (Arshi) was not making any noise. When I turned her over, I found blood all over her face,” recounted a shocked Anwari Mohammed, Arshi’s mother. In a state of panic, Anwari ran to her neighbours for help.
Kulsumbi, her neighbour, was shocked to see the child’s face. “Her right eye was fully bloodied and there were scratch marks on her cheeks and nose. I realised the girl was not breathing,” she said.
Residents seemed surprised that despite sleeping close to the child, the mother had remained unaware that rats were attacking her child. “The child did not cry in the night, maybe that’s why the mother was not aware of it,” Kulsumbi said.
Another neighbour, Nasser Hussain Maniyar, said the incident has forced locals to buy traps and poison for the rats. “It’s quite scary, they have nibbled at our clothes and made holes in the furniture, but no one had been attacked before,” Maniyar said.
“The rat menace is because of the garbage being dumped by shops. The BMC’s rat killers also do not come here anymore. We have purchased an air gun to kill the rats,” added resident Anwar Hussein.
Local corporator Abu Sahid Azmi said he would take up the issue with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) today. “We have been complaining regularly to the BMC, but no action has been taken about the rat menace,” he said.
Arshi was the youngest of Anwari’s four children, Ahmed (3), Saba (4) and Nizam (9). Her husband Shakeel Mohammed, who works as a tailor in Bhendi Bazaar, had come to Mumbai from Bihar with his family around 14 months ago.
Despite the tragedy, Shakeel left for work on Thursday morning.
According to his relatives, he is unable to come to terms with the incident and has decided to return to Bihar by February end.
January 29, 2004
In the past 50 years, the top two miles of the world's oceans have warmed significantly, and that warming is melting sea ice. In just four decades, the
thickness of summer North Polar floating ice shrank 44 percent. In addition, warming makes droughts drier and longer, and when the evaporated water returns to earth it does so in heavier downpours.
Op-Ed Contributor: Global Chilling
January 28, 2004
By PAUL R. EPSTEIN
BOSTON - It seemed incongruous when former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech on global warming on a bitterly cold day in New York City this month. But in fact it was an appropriate topic: New Yorkers may be able to blame the city's current cold spell - the most severe in nearly a decade - on global warming.
Global warming doesn't mean that every place on the globe gets warmer. The weather history that can be read in polar ice-core samples indicates that previous periods of warming affected North America and Europe far differently than they
did the tropics - the Northern Hemisphere got a lot colder.
It's far too early to say for sure, but the same processes may be at work today. In the past 50 years, the top two miles of the world's oceans have warmed significantly, and that warming is melting sea ice. In just four decades, the
thickness of summer North Polar floating ice shrank 44 percent. In addition, warming makes droughts drier and longer, and when the evaporated water returns to earth it does so in heavier downpours.
Normally, water circulates in the North Atlantic like this:
Cold, salty water at the top sinks; that sinking water acts as a pump, pulling warm Gulf Stream water north and thus moderating winter weather. But now, fresh water from the thawing ice and heavier rain is accumulating near the
ocean's surface; it's not sinking as quickly. (The tropics are faced with the opposite phenomenon. According to Dr. Ruth Curry and her colleagues at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the tropical Atlantic is becoming saltier; as warming increases, so does evaporation, which leaves behind salt.) The freshening" in the North Atlantic may be contributing to a high-pressure system that is accelerating trans-Atlantic winds and deflecting the jet stream - changes that may be driving frigid fronts down the Eastern Seaboard. The ice-core records demonstrate that the North Atlantic can freshen to a point where the deep-water pump fails, warm water stops coming north, and the northern ocean suddenly freezes, as it did in the last Ice Age. No one can say if that is what will happen next. But since the 1950's, the best documented deep-water pump, between Iceland and Scotland, has slowed 20 percent.
Why now? After all, the planet's previous periods of global warming resulted from changes in the earth's tilt toward the sun, and recent calculations of these cycles indicate that our hospitable climate was not due to have ended any time soon. But because of the warming brought by the buildup of carbon dioxide, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, the equations have changed. We are entering uncharted waters. It's something for New Yorkers to ponder as they bundle up.
January 28, 2004
Happy 8th Anniversary to us!!!
Yes. On Sunday, we completed 8 years of marriage. Hard to believe. It is even harder to believe that we know each other since 1987, i.e., almost 17 years. It is a surprise that we haven't killed each other yet. ;)
Decided to go out for lunch, in stead of dinner to accomodate Ashwini's tight schedule. Wanted to go to an Italian restaurant so that Ashwini could eat bread their rather than just watching us eat. Unexpectedly, Macroni Grill and Olive Garden had 20-25 minute wait time at 1:30 pm. So, finally decided to go to our favorite, Yotsuba. I think the owner of this restaurant is going to be able to put his/her kids through college because of us. The food was yummier than ever. Lately, we have been carrying food out from here. So, sitting there and eating may have made a difference.
Ashwini got to sit in a real high-chair rather than her carseat. Unfortunately, there was no bread there for her, but she managed alright by licking the black granite table-top clean. It was impossible to keep her away from it. Eventually, I gave her a piece of cucumber from my Eel-Cucumber roll to keep her busy and away from the table.
All in all, it was a nice day. Looking forward to another nice year together...
January 27, 2004
Jogger's Park and Baghban
Watched these two movies during the last 3 weeks or so. It was good to see that actors were actually in roles suitable for their age and not the usual middle-aged-men-acting-like-teenagers running around trees in a park. Both the films dealt with changes brought by retirement in someone's life and their family's lives.
"Jogger's Park" was very well made. Everyone acted well, especially, Perizaad Zorbian. It was hard to believe that this was her second-ever movie. No complaints except the last 15-20 minutes, when Victor Banerjee (a retired judge) is threatened with exposing his fling with a young model (Perizaad) in the media and the lecture on morality delivered by his daughter. They could have just ended the movie when Victor and Perizaad decide not to see each other anymore and go their own way. That would have been a perfect ending for me. Oh, yeah! Also, they could have done without that stupid song featuring Perizaad.
"Baghban" was basically a time-tried story of 'children not treating their elderly retired parents well'. BTW, what does Baghban mean? I went to the kitchen for something when they talked about it.
- The best part of the movie was Hema Malini. She looked better than any of the other younger women in the movie. Actually, she looked better than even herself from older movies. It is amazing how gracefully she has aged. On the other hand, Jaya Bhaduri (not in this movie) looks like a bloated frog.
- Amitabh Bachchan did a good job as the tortured father. My only suggestion to him would be to get a better wig or just expose the receding hairline. Baldness is nothing to be ashamed of. It would be much better than his stupid wig. His hairstyle is still languishing in the late 70s-early 80s. Maybe, that is when he got this wig made.
- I don't know when Indian story/script writters will realise that the difference between good and bad doesn't have to be as much as the tip of mount everest and deepest point in the pacific ocean. The biological family of AB and HM treats them so badly and their adopted son worships them as God. This is just crazy.
- How could anyone not have any money to repair broken glasses, but have a big mansion that was kept vacant?
- Would someone tell Salman Khan that to sound sincere, he doesn't need to whisper? All through the movie, he sounded as if he was talking on the '1-800-phonesex' line.
- When I was watching the movie I had many more comments, but it has been a few days since then and can't remember any more.
- I would recommend this movie to everyone just to see how good Hema Malini looks. You can actually forward the tape/DVD as soon as she walks out of the picture.
Keep tabs on your blogs.
This is great. Now, I can keep track of all my blogs from the page I visit frequently through the day. Don't need to use the Feedreader anymore. Less load on my PC, that means it may crash less often.
January 26, 2004
I hope this is just an initial downpayment. According to earlier news quoted in one of my posts the overcharge amount was more than $120 million. I hope they don't get away with a slap on the wrist because of Dick Cheney connection, which seems to be working quite well.
Halliburton was awarded another $1.2billion contract on the day following the $6.3million payment, even while this overcharging case is being investigated.
January 22, 2004
Little Green Men
Spirit project manager Pete Theisinger told a news briefing that there was a "very serious anomaly" in communications with the six-wheeled craft...
Maybe, it found something/someone that broke it. Did the last transmission show any little green men? I know its not a laughing matter, but couldn't resist.
"There is not one single fault that explains this," Theisinger said, adding that mission scientists had worked throughout the night on scenarios ranging from a major power failure to a software or memory corruption.
I hope it is not running Windows.
31st Anniversary of 'Roe v Wade'
31 years ago, a US Supreme Court decision gave women the right to legal abortion. It is all well and good that women have that right, but why does anyone have to bestow that right upon women? Shouldn't women automatically have the right to choose whatever happens with their bodies and lives?
It is disgusting to see that most ardent anti-abortion activists are men. How can they force their opinion on women without experiencing pregnancy? Unless of course, if they believe that women were created from their rib and hence, they own women and can force them to do anything they want. The 'value of human life' is just a facade to disguise the urge to yield power over every aspect of women's lives. Sadly, many women are fooled with it and don't see through it.
There is a lot of talk about reversing the 'Roe v Wade' decision. Even if it is reversed, it is simply wrong for government to have any kind of laws to govern reproductive lives of its citizen. Women should have the right to control the functions of their bodies, and not the government.
January 21, 2004
I was here one year ago. It was fun skiing in Taos. Hope to do some skiing this year, too.
January 18, 2004
January 16, 2004
My Setiathome stats
|Total CPU Time||7.240 years|
|Average CPU Time per work unit||8 hr 21 min 19.1 sec|
|Average results received per day||4.73|
|Last result returned:||Fri Jan 16 10:02:18 2004 UTC|
|Registered on:||Tue Aug 24 01:20:40 1999 UTC|
|SETI@home user for:||4.402 years|
January 15, 2004
Another cool train ride in India
I would love to go on this train ride next time I am visiting. The train is decorated really well. Looks excellent.
Heard on NPR, on the way to work...
Advantages of marriage:
- It domesticates men.
- It protects women from predatory men.
- It provides the safety of a home for women and their children.
So, basically it is good for women. Huh?!
January 13, 2004
The awful truth
Paul Krugman of the New York Times writes in his Op-ed column about Mr. Paul O'Neill's recent revelations and the shift in the source of criticism of the Bush administration.
People are saying terrible things about George Bush. They say that his officials weren't sincere about pledges to balance the budget. They say that the planning for an invasion of Iraq began seven months before 9/11, that there was never any good evidence that Iraq was a threat and that the war actually undermined the fight against terrorism.
But these irrational Bush haters are body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks who should go back here
they came from: the executive offices of Alcoa, and the halls of the Army War College.
I was one of the few commentators who didn't celebrate Paul O'Neill's appointment as Treasury secretary. And I couldn't understand why, if Mr. O'Neill was the principled man his friends described, he didn't resign early from an administration that was clearly anything but honest.
But now he's showing the courage I missed back then, by giving us an invaluable, scathing insider's picture of the Bush administration.
Ron Suskind's new book "The Price of Loyalty" is based largely on interviews with and materials supplied by Mr. O'Neill. It portrays an administration in which political considerations - satisfying "the base" - trump policy
analysis on every issue, from tax cuts to international trade policy and global warming. The money quote may be Dick Cheney's blithe declaration that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." But there are many other revelations.
One is that Mr. O'Neill and Alan Greenspan knew that it was a mistake to lock in huge tax cuts based on questionable projections of future surpluses. In May 2001 Mr. Greenspan gloomily told Mr. O'Neill that because the first Bush tax cut didn't include triggers - it went forward regardless of how the budget turned out - it was "irresponsible fiscal policy." This was a time when critics of the tax cut were ridiculed for saying exactly the same thing.
Another is that Mr. Bush, who declared in the 2000 campaign that "the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum," knew that this wasn't true. He worried that eliminating taxes on dividends would benefit only "top-rate people," asking his advisers, "Didn't we already give them a break at the top?"
Most startling of all, Donald Rumsfeld pushed the idea of regime change in Iraq as a way to transform the Middle East at a National Security Council meeting in February 2001.
There's much more in Mr. Suskind's book. All of it will dismay those who still want to believe that our leaders are wise and good.
The question is whether this book will open the eyes of those who think that anyone who criticizes the tax cuts is a wild-eyed leftist, and that anyone who says the administration hyped the threat from Iraq is a conspiracy
The point is that the credentials of the critics just keep getting better. How can Howard Dean's assertion that the capture of Saddam hasn't made us safer be dismissed as bizarre, when a report published by the Army War College says that the war in Iraq was a "detour" that undermined the fight against terror? How can charges by Wesley Clark and others that the administration was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq be dismissed as paranoid in the light of Mr. O'Neill's revelations?
So far administration officials have attacked Mr. O'Neill's character but haven't refuted any of his facts. They have, however, already opened an investigation into how a picture of a possibly classified document appeared during Mr. O'Neill's TV interview. This alacrity stands in sharp contrast with their evident lack of concern when a senior administration official, still unknown, blew the cover of a C.I.A. operative because her husband had revealed some politically inconvenient facts.
Some will say that none of this matters because Saddam is in custody, and the economy is growing. Even in the short run, however, these successes may not be all they're cracked up to be. More Americans were killed and wounded in the four weeks after Saddam's capture than in the four weeks before. The drop in the unemployment rate since its peak last summer doesn't reflect a greater availability of
jobs, but rather a decline in the share of the population that is even looking for work.
More important, having a few months of good news doesn't excuse a consistent pattern of dishonest, irresponsible leadership. And that pattern keeps getting harder to deny.
January 12, 2004
Coffee May Reduce Risk of DiabetesFrom Wall Street Journal, 01/06/04
A new study printed in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that drinking more coffee may reduce the risk of the most common form of diabetes.
Compared with people who don’t drink coffee, men who drank more than six, eight-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee per day lowered their risk of Type 2 diabetes by about 50 percent. Women reduced their risk by about 30 percent. Among decaffeinated coffee drinkers the results we slightly lower—a 25 percent risk reduction for men and a 15 percent risk reduction for women.
Experts says that more research is needed to clarify the results—to determine whether or not it is really the coffee or something else about coffee drinkers that protects them. “The evidence is quite strong that regular coffee is protective against diabetes,” said Dr. Frank Hu, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The question is whether we should recommend coffee consumption as a strategy. I don’t think we’re there yet.”
January 09, 2004
I use a 4MP Sony digital camera DSC-S85 for taking the astronomy pictures. It is attached to the beast in this picture. It is a 8" F/4 Schmidt-Newtonian Telescope on a motorized LXD-55 German equitorial mount. This is a pretty decent setup for lunar and planetary photography.
Oil spill in Spain
In November 2002, this news made a small blip in the US media on the background of the impending Iraq war. But, people from about 350 miles coastline of Galicia region in Northern Spain suffered for 6 months through this disaster. Last night, Frontline-World on PBS featured this story called 'The Lawless Sea'.
This was one of the worst oil spills in the world that could have been avoided, but nothing was done to prevent this from happening again today. 'Prestige' was an aging, rusting, single hull oil tanker carrying a full load of the most toxic fuel oil, crude oil number 4. It was owned by a Greek shipping giant through a front company in Liberia to minimize taxes and liability. It was carrying oil from Russia for a buyer in Singapore. The tanker encountered a winter storm as it was passing through the heavily trafficked shipping lane along Spain's Costa del Muerte (Coast of death). 20 foot waves ripped through the rusting steel hull of the ship and tore a big 50 foot hole in its side. The ship's engines shut down and it started to take on water. Government of Spain ordered to take the ship out to the sea rather than taking it to a safe harbor. After several days of sailing, it couldn't go too far in the deep sea and it broke into 2 pieces about 130 miles off the spanish coast.
Sheets and massive clumps of crude oil, almost twice that of the Exxon Valdez spill, floated to Galician coast contaminating 350 miles of it, while killing millions of fish and birds. The cleanup effort for the next 6 months costed about $2 billion, but the ship's insurance covered only $25 million. Documents found on board, indicate knowledge of problems with the ship and they were ignored. Now, there are plenty of ongoing lawsuits and countersuits between the Spanish government, ship's owners, and ABS, the company that was responsible for the inspection and certification of ship's seaworthyness. Nobody is willing to take any responsiblity for the disaster.
The sad part is there are about 150 aging single hull oil tankers like the Prestige that are operating around the world currently and any one of them could repeat this disaster. The Prestige is at the bottom of about 2mile deep Atlantic ocean, and unsafe, unregulated oil tankers still pass over it along the coast of Spain. Spanish and French robot submarines have sealed the leaks from the Prestige and plan to extract remaining 13,000 tons of oil in the near future.
The world economy relies on transportation with ships and oil tankers. On any day, there are about 80,000 ships sailing the oceans of the world carrying all kinds of goods. The multinational nature of this trade and loopholes in laws around the world shields the shipping companies from taking responsibility for horrendous disasters like this one. The EU has banned single hull tankers from its ports and there is a UN ban on single hull tankers which will become effective in April 2005. Hopefully, there will be more changes in the laws to prevent such environmental disasters in the future.
The big crater in the top left corner is Bullialdus, the double crater in the top right corner is Gassendi. The center of the picture shows a 150 Km long mountain range called Montes Riphaeus. Two big craters below the mountain range are Lansberg and Reinhold.
Took this picture back in October, but didn't get around to finding the names from the Moon atlas.
January 07, 2004
First PM of India
JK posted an article about right of people to elect a PM for India. Here is the excerpt from TVR Shenoy's article on Rediff that appeared in JK's post. It describes how the will of Indian people was ignored on the whim of "Father of the nation".
Let me take you back to the year 1946. Everyone knew that Independence was around the corner (though the precise date remained undecided). The choice of Congress president became crucial since it was certain that the Viceroy would invite him or her to head the interim government. Twelve of the 15 Pradesh Congress Committees proposed the name of Sardar Patel; not one of them sent up the name of Jawaharlal Nehru — not even his native United Provinces (as Uttar Pradesh was then titled). It was at this point that Mahatma Gandhi made his last decisive intervention in the affairs of the nation.
He asked Acharya Kripalani — who, if I remember correctly was the choice of the United Provinces Pradesh Congress Committee — to circulate a note to the Congress Working Committee asking that body to nominate Nehru. From this distance in time, the Mahatma¹s reasons seem less than convincing. ‘He, a Harrow boy, a Cambridge graduate and a barrister, is wanted to carry on the negotiations with Englishmen.’ Again, the Mahatma believed that Nehru could ‘make India play a role in international affairs.’ More realistically, ‘Jawahar will not take second place.’ Whatever the rationale — and the last suggests that our much-worshipped first prime minister was a spoiled brat in the Mahatma’s estimation — the fact remains that Bapu¹s suggestion carried the day, and Sardar Patel, the choice of the people, failed to become prime minister through a palace coup.
Expensive time-keepersDuring the holiday shopping season of 2003, the highest percentage increase in sales of an item over 2002, was for watches that cost over $10,000. I would be afraid to even touch one of those. But, what is the deal? Do these watches tell better time than any cheap plastic digital one?
January 06, 2004
Brrrrr!!!Right now, the temperature is 8F (-14C) with windchill of -11F (-24C). Not the coldest that I have ever seen, but, definitely cold. Probably, the coldest day of this winter season yet.
Postcard from 105 MM miles away
One of the first few photographs sent back from the surface of Mars by the latest NASA rover Spirit.
January 05, 2004
NFL wildcard gamesMy team (Green Bay Packers), as well as V's team (Indianapolis Colts) were fighting to get into the second round of playoffs.
Seattle gave a tough fight to the Packers and the game had to go into overtime (33-27) eventhough it was 20F (windchill 7F) and snowing at Lambeau field. The colder conditions usually give an advantage to Green Bay.
The Colts won easily against Denver Broncos (41-10). Broncos just crumbled against the offensive power of Payton Manning, Edgerin James, and Marvin Harrison. Manning had one of his best days ever. This was his first win in the playoffs. A great accomplishment.
Both the teams meet formidable opponents next week. Packers lock horns with Eagles and Colts meet KC Chiefs. Hopefully, both the teams will advance to the Conference championship games.
It will be great to see Packers play Colts in the Superbowl, but, I am not holding my breath for it.
(Joint)National Champion LSU
LSU Wins Sugar Bowl and National Championship
It was a good game to watch. LSU dominated it most of the times. Nick Saban's defense was absolutely great. I should have been supporting fellow Big12 team, but I was glad to see cocky Bob Stoops' Oklahoma lose the game.
Happy New Year!!! (Belated)
I didn't really want to come back, but, here I am after a nice more than 2 week long vacation. I wanted to post some things during my vacation, but, didn't find much time during continuous partying. ;) Here is a quick summary of the time well-spent.
Dec. 23rd, 2003:
Ashwini's first long road trip. 510 miles to Washington DC in 9 hours. She behaved extremely well through the journey. Slept 4 hours of the journey and played with V during the rest. We were ready to make an overnight stop on the way if she couldn't sit through, but, she pleasantly surprised us.
Dec. 24th, 2003:
Very enjoyable Christmas-eve party at V's aunt and uncle's place.
Dec. 25th, 2003:
Santa was very good to Ashwini. She received a ton of presents. We were glad to have driven in that mini-van.
Dec. 26th, 2003:
Left Ashwini with grandparents, and went out to watch Lord Of The Rings: part III. This was an excellent choice for our first movie in a theater after Ashwini's birth. It was extremely good. Much better than part II. I felt it dragged a little. The third part is very well done just like the first one. Didn't feel like we were sitting there for 3 hours.
Dec. 27th, 2003:
Met with my dear school-friend from London and his family in Baltimore. Packed them up in our mini-van and started our journey back home. Both the kids behaved themselves through 9 hours of trip. It was such a nice experience, that we may plan another road trip soon.
Dec. 28th, 2003 - Jan. 2nd, 2004:
Several days of partying. Chatting and catching up with old friend.
Jan. 2nd, 2004 - Jan. 4th, 2004:
Getting ready to get back to work.