November 25, 2010

Nitish Phir Champion

Some good news from the grim and all-too-corroded world of politics. The state of Bihar is in some ways emblematic of all that is wrong about India. That may be a wrong characterization of Bihar but that's the way things stand.

Therefore, it's quite uplifting to hear about the 'landslide' win that the people of Bihar have given to Nitish Kumar. I have heard only good things about his administration. People are saying that some semblance of law & order has finally been established in that lawless land.

Of course, I can't fail to see the irony in all of this ... the fact that we have all come to accept corruption as so much a part of life and of politics that when we come across someone who is NOT corrupt, we hail that fellow with extraordinary amounts of wonderment and appreciation and what not. But this should not be the case in the normal scheme of things. People and politicians in should have been honest people. And the corrupt one should have been the exception. But it seems that things are exactly the opposite and therefore Nitish Kumar's win is cause for much cheer.

A Brief History of Scams ...

I thought to create a brief history of recent scams in our polity. This is as much to inform the public ... well, let me revise that ...

This is more a 'reminder' for myself than an informative piece for the public. You see, now a days scams are coming and going at a furious pace.

So, here goes (in no particular order):
  1. The 2G scam.
  2. The Adarsh housing scam.
  3. The Commonwealth Games loot.
  4. Barkha Dutt and the DMK story.
  5. LIC and PSU bank officers story.

To revisit some of the 'older' scams but still from memory ...

Raju of Satyam fame ... but that will become an unending tale ... might back to the other 'golden age' of scams in India ... during the time of the great Narasimha Rao's primeministership ... from the telecom scam of Sukh Ram to Urea scam and sugar scam of Kalpanath Rai fame ... and oh, how can one forget the famous fodder scam of the one and only Lalu Yadav.

Then you have the coffin scam of the Kargil skirmish times to the Harshad Mehta scam to all the shenanigans of the Ambanis ...

Oh well, I will wanted to mention the 'top five' scams just so I can revisit this blog a bit later and check on the status of those scams.

Ohhhhhhhhh ... spare the children please ...

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/phys-ed-the-benefits-of-weight-training-for-kids/

Now, of course, Geetha will have even more reason as to why I should join a gym ... oh well ... I guess I will eventually need to join one ...

See ... the 'bad' News Now ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/25/nyregion/25nychaiti.html?_r=1&hp

People are turning to religion in times of stress — so, what's new???
And oh, one more bad news to post since we are talking about bad news in general. Discovery's final flight has been indefinitely postoponed.
Well, that seems to confirm my blog post from yesterday. Something seems to be seriously amiss with the shuttle program as it seeks to wind down.
Of course, NASA will definitely say 'no, no, this is normal ... this is usual ... we are only following standard procedures.'
But, can I utter aloud the unspoken fear — there is a great likelihood of something going wrong when the shuttle launches ...
Shall I say 'Amen?'

Good News ...

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-11-22/opinion/coontz.marriage.pew_1_marriage-college-educated-women-higher-plane?_s=PM:OPINION

It's good that people have so (relatively) quickly altered their opinion about a relatively hoary tradition of humanity such as marriage.
This is somewhat surprising in the context that with respect to the other weird hoary hoax known variously as god, religion, belief and what not, people are simply not willing to grow up.
Half of Americans probably believe that some god created the universe 10,000 years ago ... which is ... what? unintelligent? againt common sense? patently and obviously untrue???

November 24, 2010

Farewell to Discovery — but what's all this delay about???

I was wondering about all this recurring delays afflicting the final flight of Discovery. And I thought people are choosing to remain silent about a massive elephant in the room. It's a very commonplace and predictable issue really.

Imagine a circus company that has been performing shows for 30 years and now has only two or three shows left to perform before bringing the curtain down permanently. Or, imagine a factory manufacturing cars that has been doing it for the past 30 years but is now on the verge of being closed in a couple of months.

Clearly, there would be a lot of churn going on in either that circus or that plant. I think that's what is happening with NASA as well. Many of the people are probably going to lose their jobs once the shuttle program winds down. The lucky ones will move to different projects inside NASA. Applies to internal NASA employees as well as contractors.

So, probably contractors are being faced with a situation of their best and most talented employees leaving them ... which would clearly affect the quality of execution of their current projects.

These contractors would be basically at various stages of shutting shop as it were. And therefore, perhaps they are not as prepared for somewhat unforeseen challenges as they normally would have been. And I somehow feel that might have something to do with the problems relating to the foam on the external tank .... seems to be some sort of a mark of something getting shoddy somewhere ... may be, some contractor cutting corners somewhere. Same can perhaps apply to the problem with the ground umbilical carrier plate as well.

Surely, NASA will vehemently deny that any such thing is happening or that any such factors are responsible. And yet, my doubts linger.

Well, all one can do is hope for a majestic and successful final flight and a glorious journey into retirement ... Discovery has certainly earned a permanent place for itself in the National Air and Space Museum.

November 23, 2010

The Obama Legacy

Someone wrote that Obama will turn out in the long run to be like a Truman rather than like Carter. I certainly hope that it turns out to be that way.

Although it's also quite 'unfair' that Carter is considered to be a 'failure' for whatever reasons. It just shows how little leverage presidents really have on the larger sweep of events.

It's clearly weird that Reagan has turned almost into a demi-god in Republican circles and even Democrats find it hard to criticize him.

It's no wonder therefore that Mark Twain's memoirs are at no. 4 on bestseller lists whereas George W. Bush's memoirs are almost 'guaranteed' to reach the no. 1 position.

November 19, 2010

Oh .............. how pathetic!!!! An American Sri Sri ... or something

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/magazine/14evangelicals-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw

I can't believe that all seven billion humans on this planet are actually living on the same planet at all! On the one hand, you have got all these gigantic, mind boggling, spectacular, eye-popping achievements of science and yet on the other hand, people continue to believe in medieval 'faiths.'

How can anyone still look up or point upwards to the sky and say that there's a heaven up there??? Beats me!

The worst part of course is that all these preachers don't mind partaking the benefits of science & technology even as they continue to blame science (or too much of it) and urge the 'faithful' to 'submit' themselves to the 'will of God.'

Do they really believe all the nonsense that they are peddling? Certainly, the in-your-face radical atheism of Richard Dawkins is very much timely.

Do I have to enumerate here all the great achievements of science & technology? It's not even about the fact that we benefit so much from them ... that our lives have become so much better. The fact that cosmologists and astrophysicists understand the large scale structure of the universe and the internal workings of stars may not have much bearing on our personal lives and yet that is an example of the kind of heights to which humankind has already risen intellectually and clearly, it's way, way a wrong century to be depending on God to look after us.

I see some dark times ahead for humanity ... most of all, on account of the huge pressures we are putting on the environment with the relentless increase in human population and the rising standards of living and the rising demands for energy sources. And when nature behaves in an 'unpredictable' manner, people will suffer somewhat and then, I guess, even more people will turn to God ... uttering inanities like 'this is God's way of punishing us for not being good' or whatever similar nonsense.

Oh well, we'll see ...

Top Gear still going strong ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/automobiles/21TOPGEAR.html?_r=1&hpw

Well, it's definitely good news for me as well. I loved watching Jeremy Clarkson's goofiness during the time that I used to watch the show.

I remember his standing in front of the U.S. Congress with placards proclaiming that the Concorde was all-British ... no American parts whatsoever!!! What a goofy idea indeed!

November 16, 2010

Chandra Continues ...

to Razzle and Dazzle ...

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/H-10-299.html

It's strange how talk about black holes has become so common place and 'merely' the stuff of science and not folklore.

And unfortunately, for ordinary people, science is considered to be a very dry and starched kind of topic bereft of all romance and suspense and excitement.

Of course, it's exactly the opposite which is the truth.

My Bucket List

In light of the movie starring two enormously accomplished actors (Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson), I have become used to the idea of a bucket list of mine.

What would such a list contain? Perhaps some permutation and combination of the following activities ...

  1. Watching a shuttle launch
  2. Better than just watching would be actually going to space on one of those gigantic vehicles.
  3. Even better would be getting to land on the Moon.
  4. Is not going to Mars better than going to the Moon? Sure it is. For me at least.
  5. Perhaps going to New York City would be fun.
  6. And visiting the pyramids of Giza.
  7. Visiting the Grand Canyon ... with someone???
  8. And the Niagara Falls.
  9. And Disneyland?
  10. Go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
  11. Go for a swim with dolphins.
  12. Go see some blue whales somewhere in the North Atlantic or wherever they live ...
  13. Visit Las Vegas for fun???
  14. Enjoy a romantic dinner ... with??? Meg Ryan?
  15. Climb Mt. Everest ...
  16. Fly a Boeing 747.

But I would merely say that I have already accomplished all that I wanted to do ...

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