Dec 15, 2006

Atleast 1 bin Laden is going to be shot really soon!


First of, I didn't know elephants kill, but apparently this happens once in a while. In October 1999, drunken elephants killed 4 people and flattened a village.

This week, the hunt if on for killer elephant named Laden in Eastern India. Laden is a serial killer, having trampled 14 people over the past 6 months! He has so far proved himself to be so elusive, that authorities have hired a bounty hunter to track him down. That bounty hunter is scouring the forest with his own contingency of 5 forest guards!

From BBC.com...
Rangers in India's Assam state have issued a shoot-on-sight order on a killer rogue elephant named after al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. Laden has trampled 14 people to death in the past six months in the north-eastern state, officials say. The order came after the rogue bull killed a woman on Wednesday. So far he has eluded hunters.

Humans and elephants have come into greater conflict in recent years as man encroaches on jungle territories. Assam's wildlife warden Chandan Bora said the order had been given to kill the rogue elephant within a week. But he said: "We've hired a licensed hunter to kill the rogue elephant but so far Laden is untraceable. "The hunter, accompanied by about five forest guards, is still in the jungles trying to hunt down Laden."

Laden was branded a "rogue" - a violent, isolated elephant - in the summer after the deaths reached double figures. He was given his name by villagers in Assam's eastern district of Sonitpur.
The encroachment of man on the elephant's natural habitats is bound to yield friction. It's a sad story...though quite amusing.

World's tallest man saves dolphins

That's interesting...Though the dolphins must have been really freaked out.
From the Daily Telegraph...
The dolphins at an aquarium in Fushun, Liaoning Province, had fallen sick after swallowing the plastic from the edge of their pool, and attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because of the contraction of the dolphins' stomachs in response to the instruments, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Veterinarians than decided to ask for help from Bao Xishun, a 2.36-metre-tall herdsman from Inner Mongolia.

The official Xinhua news agency said Bao, using his arm length of 1.06 metres, was able to reach deep enough into the dolphins to pull out the plastic.

Dec 14, 2006

Movie recommendation: Not One Less


I thought I'd step out of the usual scope of my posts and recommend a movie. Not one less is a Chinese movie directed by Zhang Yimou. You may know him from his recent movies, Hero and House of Flying Daggers.

It's about this rural Chinese substitute teacher, barely 13 years old, who is sent in to substitute at another rural village. The students aged between 4-8 come from really poor families. Since they're poor some of their classmates have already left school in order to work in the city to made ends meet. The teacher who she is substituting for, needs to attend to his sick mother,and he promises her an added sum of money if she can somehow keep the kids from abandoning.

The movie is simple, thought provoking, honest and it reflects how poor and impoverished certain parts of the world really are. It's the same tale in Pakistan, where poor children work rather than study. Though its a different story whether or not they can even afford the education.

What makes this movie seem a lot more genuine is the use of real people rather than actors. It was a really good foreign flick, and if you're into these types of films, I would highly recommend it!

Sony distributes this film in the US and they have a pretty helpful promotional page on it.

My rating: 8/10

Ban on Indian movies in Pakistan is pointless

Pakistan has banned Indian movies in theaters for 30 years now. This ridiculous law, however, has not stymied the popularity of films and shows from across the border. Indian soaps, movies, and game shows are quite routinely copied. Though its not all one way traffic, as I recall my friends mentioning that Pakistani dramas were quite popular back in India too.

The piracy industry in that part of the world has been thriving ever since somebody figured out how to burn a cd-rom. Naturally there are no figures to support this claim, but I am sure there is plenty of financial loss to the filmmakers. This article in Asia Media talks about efforts being made to lift the ban.
The Pakistani Film Exhibitors Association has filed a petition in the Sindh High Court asking for permission to import and screen Indian films in movie theatres, with amicus curiae Qazi Faez Isa arguing the ban was irrational and resulted in closing down of about 925 cinemas over the years and bringing down the number and quality of feature films produced in Pakistan.

India has no such ban on the import of Pakistani films according to the lawyers. They argued that Indian films in theatres would increase revenue and attract more viewers.

What's interesting is the ban was initially sought out for 5 years in 1961. The aim was to actually improve the Pakistani film industry. How stupid is that?

It seems to me that the only thing that can improve the quality of films is competition. If Indian films are better, then so be it. Banning them isn't going help the local industry. The ban should be lifted. It doesn't make sense.

Though could they perhaps place restrictions on the length of these movies!? 3 hours! I can't stand how long desi films are...

Dec 12, 2006

Stewie Griffin's 'Sexy Party' music video

Stewie Griffin : Sexy Party
This is hilarious!

Dec 10, 2006

Indian survey reveals condoms too big

This story must have been the most emailed article of the week. It was forwarded to me by pretty much everyone!
A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.
I noticed that a bunch of amused Pakistani bloggers had it up on their sites too. Funny part is, if the survey were to be held in Pakistan, I'm sure the results would have been similar. After all, we're the same race right.

Either that, or they already ship smaller sized condoms to us!

Dec 7, 2006

What a tragedy: Father dies trying to save family


Most of us in the US have heard about it on the news and have followed the search for the family that went missing while returning home after Thanksgiving. The story eventually unfolded today and its so sad. After being stranded and waiting for a week, James Kim, the dad, felt he had no choice but to go and find help. He eventually trekked 10.24 miles where he collapsed and died of hypothermia. The rest of this report is here. Fortunately, his young family was found alive. If only he had waited a little bit longer...But its completely understandable. He had no choice. He had a 7 month old baby and 4 year old daughter with no food and with the weather bound to get worse. Such a tragedy, and what a brave man....

Dec 4, 2006

E. Coli outbreak at one of my regular eateries

Lucky break for me. This was awfully close to home. An E. Coli outbreak is suspected at the South Plainfield Taco Bell, which I frequent since its the closest one to my residence. It's also a drive through and since my car has died, I haven't gotten to it in the past few weeks. But this was a close shave. This is more of a reminder that I should focus on eating healthy and at home now...

From www.chron.com...
An E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 22 people _ two of them seriously _ was linked by health investigators Monday to three Taco Bell restaurants in New Jersey. Investigators also were examining whether an outbreak on Long Island was connected to the fast-food chain.

All but two of the people who fell ill in New Jersey had eaten at one of the fast-food restaurants between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28, authorities said. But exactly what food contained the bacteria was still unclear.

"We have to find the food they all had in common," said David Papi, director of health for Middlesex County.

All but four of the victims are under 18, authorities said.

Five of the New Jersey victims were in the hospital Monday, including two in serious or critical condition with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can permanently damage the kidneys, officials said.

Twenty of those infected, including two restaurant employees who tested positive for E. coli but did not get sick, ate at a Taco Bell in South Plainfield; another ate at a Taco Bell in Edison; and one ate at a Taco Bell in Franklin Township, authorities said.

In Long Island, an E. coli outbreak sickened at least 14 people, including 10 who ate at Taco Bell. Four restaurants were closed as a precaution in Suffolk County, and Nassau County officials asked that four additional restaurants be closed, health officials said.

Taco Bell Corp., based in Irvine, Calif., had no immediate comment Monday.

The fast food chain closed its South Plainfield restaurant last week when it first appeared that the infection might have come from there. It was not until Monday that suspicion fell on two more Taco Bells.

Company spokesman Rob Poetsch said in a statement over the weekend that employees are required to adhere to strict food-handling rules.

"We have taken every precaution, including temporarily closing the restaurant until the investigation is completed, as nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our customers and employees," Poetsch said.

E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a common and ordinarily harmless bacteria the feces of humans and livestock, but certain strains can cause abdominal cramps, fever, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, blindness, paralysis, even death.

Most E. coli infections are associated with undercooked meat. The bacteria also can be found on sprouts or leafy vegetables such as spinach. Earlier this year, three people died and more than 200 fell ill from an outbreak that was traced to packaged spinach grown in California. The bacteria also can be passed from person to person if they do not thoroughly wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dangerous E. coli strain 0157:H7 infects about 73,000 Americans a year and kills 61.

Symptoms usually show up three to four days after a person eats contaminated food, although in some cases it can be as long as eight days, said Stephanie Brown, an epidemiologist for Middlesex County.

"If they are having symptoms, then the most important thing they need to do is contact their health care provider," Brown said.

Dec 3, 2006

Germany: Hitler saluting Santa removed from shelves

'Tis the season to be jolly....

Well this is an interesting story. From the looks of it, Santa is not really saluting anyone. It just seems like he is pointing to the sky. Well - doesn't matter. The complaints seem to be going a bit overboard but I suppose it is sensible that they removed the item from shelves. Probably better that way.


BERLIN (Reuters) - A German chain of shops has removed miniature wooden Santa Claus figures from its shelves and destroyed them after customers complained it looked like they were giving the stiff-armed Hitler salute that is outlawed.

Josef Lange, a spokesman for the Rossmann chain that has 1,200 outlets, told Reuters Friday the figures depicting Father Christmas with his right arm stiffly upright toward the sky and holding a sack in his left hand upset some customers.

"We were astonished by the reaction," Lange said. "It looks like he's just pointing up to the sky and we were surprised that anyone saw the so-called 'Hitler salute' in that. But we responded and had the entire inventory removed and destroyed."

Nov 27, 2006

Renewable Energy in Pakistan

My friend wrote this excellent article entitled 'Adding fuel to fire' which recently got published in one of Pakistan's leading daily's. He presents arguments supporting ethanol as the next new renewable source of energy in the country. I was impressed to learn that Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has been heavily encouraged in Pakistan and has been quite a success. I have included some excerpts from his article. I urge you to peruse the published version at your leisure.
By lifting import duties on CNG conversion kits, converting government vehicles, and liberally distributing licenses for CNG filling stations, the (Pakistani) government kick-started a cycle of CNG production that was then propelled by basic market forces and low CNG prices. As a result of these policies, CNG use has captured a large share of the petrol market over the last two years. There are over 1 million CNG-enabled vehicles in Pakistan today, constituting nearly 20 percent of all vehicles in the country. It is the third largest CNG fleet in the world.

That's great to know that Pakistan has the third largest CNG automobile fleet in the world. However, as my friend and author rightly points out, CNG, though clean, is not renewable. As a result of this, he proposes several measures whereby ethanol can be introduced as the source of renewable energy


According to the World Bank, the only potential renewable fuel anywhere in the world that can currently compete with petrol is ethanol from sugarcane. Pakistan produces the world’s 5th largest sugarcane crop, of which 20 percent is exported. In fact, until recently, Pakistan was the second largest exporter of sugarcane ethanol to the European Union — a preferential status we have since lost because of WTO obligations and dumping complaints. Several distilleries have planned to close down in light of this fact. Instead of curbing production of fuel ethanol, however, we should redirect it to the domestic market. Eventually, a domestic industry will grow, and the further development of sugarcane feed-stocks will accelerate rural infrastructure development and result in rural job creation from farms and processing facilities.

Experiences with fuel ethanol in Brazil and around the world suggest that government action is essential in the initiation of such programs to coax the market away from pre-existing technologies. A Pakistani fuel ethanol program, like its CNG predecessor, will need initial government support to develop an infrastructure in which the new industry can grow.

This entails providing incentives for both production and consumption of fuel ethanol. the fledgling industry will need fiscal support in the form of subsidies, tax incentives, and state-guaranteed credit, to ensure that it has a consumer base and a competitive price. As production increases, economies of scale will develop until ethanol production is cost-effective and self-sustainable.

This is an impressive article and quite eye-opening for me. I believe the ideas that he proposes are quite manageable. There is, after all, an infrastructure already laid down for CNG production. Thus the government is aware of the looming energy crisis. It's great that Pakistan is far ahead of other nations with regards to industrial and automotive CNG incorporation. It would be even more impressive if Pakistan can think to the future, utilize its renewable crop resources, and thus produce energy domestically.

Nov 22, 2006

Another amusing one from phdcomics.com


Nov 21, 2006

Will Japanese rock be my musical saviour?

For the past few years, my musical tastes evolved towards hip-hop. And not even hard core rap, or really authentic stuff which most enthusiasts get into, but mainly popular styles. A little lame, I agree, but I wanted my music to be fun, entertaining and 'bumping. I guess it was a gradual evolution and it blended in with my lifestyle and my habits at the time. I still enjoy hip-hop in clubs and bars and prefer that to any other music when I go.

Rock took a backseat. I am not one to buy albums, or enjoy every song by an artist. I usually like a song here or there, maybe a few from one band or whatever. I have rarely gotten obsessed with a band ever.

I've been getting really bored with music for the past few months. Getting sick and tired of what I have and not so impressed with American rock.

So my friend sent a couple of her favorite Japanese songs over to me, and though i have no clue what they are saying, I found the music to be so refreshing. I love the beats, the enthusiasm and the riffs. Its pretty rocking and its inspiring stuff. I even picked up my guitar on my own accord after a few years and learned the songs. Admittedly, I only have 6 Japanese songs thus far, but I am exploring the field a lot more enthusiastically then I have in the near past.

Turns out, I am listening mainly to songs from a movie. The soundtrack belongs to a movie called Nana.

On a side note, it stars this chick called Mika Nakashima who is pretty attractive. Here is her picture for good measure.
I believe she is a singer too and one of her songs is called "Glamorous Sky" which I like. Anyway, I don't know if I am listening to J-pop or J-rock or just Vietnamese music. But I guess it makes me happy. That's the point

Nov 20, 2006

Sensible family planning advice


How to make the senior citizen's happy

No! It's not discounts at Denny's or more frequent bingo nights and ballroom dancing....it's free Viagra. Too bad the elderly are becoming players though....Read on!
From Reuters...

The mayor of a small Brazilian town has begun handing out free Viagra, spicing up the sex lives of dozens of elderly men and their partners."Since we started the free distribution of sexual stimulants, our elderly population changed. They're much happier," said Joao de Souza Luz, the mayor of Novo Santo Antonio, a small town in the central state of Mato Grosso.Souza Luz said 68 men over the age of 60 had already signed up for the program, which was approved by the town's legislature and has been dubbed "Happy Penis," or "Pinto Alegre" in Portuguese.

But the program has also had the unforeseen consequence of encouraging some extra-marital affairs, Souza Luz said."Some of the old men aren't seeking out their wives. They've got romances on the side," he said.To discourage such illicit canoodling, Souza Luz said the city had decided to begin distributing the Viagra pills to the wives of the men who signed up for the program."That way, when the women are in the mood, they can give the pills to their husbands," he said.

Nov 19, 2006

PhD Comics

While waiting for my simulations to run...I was browsing the internet and found this incredible website. www.phdcomics.com
This site is hilarious. Its basically an archive for a cartoon strip, but it focuses on graduate student life. I sent a couple of cartoons to my pals working in industry and they didn't get any of the jokes.

Anyway, I have included the comics on my blog and will probably post the amusing ones here....

Nov 17, 2006

Religion and Science

The never ending debate is in the news again. Both these cover stories are worth checking out. The Nature article discusses the lack of scientific research in the OIC countries. The Time article includes a debate amongst 2 eminent scientists. One, an athiest and the other a devout believer.


Then this week's cover for time talks about The Pope's visit to Turkey. Haven't recieved my copy of Time yet, but its clear to see, Islam is in the news.....

Nov 14, 2006

Red Sox bid over $50 million for the right to negotiate with Japanese pitcher


That's right. Just to negotiate with this pitcher! Now they have to deal with Scott Boras, his mone-hungry price-driving agent. If they can figure out a deal within 30 days, then they would have to pay the Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, that ridiculous posting fee....plus the $15-$20 million a year that Matsuzaka would probably make.

From MLB.com...

The next step in Matsuzaka's dream of pitching in the Major Leagues comes in the next four weeks as the Red Sox have 30 days to reach a contract agreement. If an agreement isn't reached before the 30-day window expires, the "posting" money would be returned to the Red Sox and Matsuzaka would return to the Lions for the 2007 season.

A 17-game winner for the Lions during the '06 regular season, and Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic played last March, Matsuzaka figures to receive an offer from the Red Sox that would make him one of the highest-paid pitchers in 2007 -- and beyond.

With quality starting pitching at such a premium, some baseball officials believe Matsuzaka could command a deal comparable to the five-year, $73 million contract that Houston Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt signed on Aug. 30.
This is just a disgusting amount of money. And its only for the rights to talk to the guy!! Can you believe it?

I hope Scott Boras is his usual self, waits till the 29th day to start becoming resonable, and the deal falls through. If the deal fails, then the posting fee has to be returned. The Red Sox need pitching, but not at this cost. $51 million dollars? Are you kidding me?

Nov 10, 2006

What a game!!! Rutgers beats Louisville!


I went to the game yesterday. 44,000 people. A sea of red! It was incredible. I had so much fun. I still can't belive we managed to beat Louisville. We were all over the news! ESPN, choppers, blimps, planes. Even the Empire State Building changed its colors!

Here are some cool stories!
Rutgers finally on college football map
What they are saying about Rutgers
State of Rutgers swells with Joy
Rutgers will remember this game forver

Here are some pictures from NYTimes...



They changed the colored lights atop the Empire State Building...From ScarletKnights.com...

With the national college football world converging on the Rutgers campus in anticipation of Thursday's showdown between the 14th-ranked Scarlet Knights and No. 3 Louisville, the rush of excitement and "Scarlet Fever" has reached the Empire State Building as one of the world's most famous office buildings. The Building's iconic tower will be lit in "Scarlet" Thursday evening.

Nov 7, 2006

Burger King selling pot burgers!

We have a Burger King on campus at our Student Center. I wish they would follow suit!

From CNN.com...

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) -- Two police officers sued Burger King Corp., claiming they were served hamburgers that had been sprinkled with marijuana.

The lawsuit says Mark Landavazo and Henry Gabaldon, officers for the Isleta Pueblo tribal police, were in uniform and riding in a marked patrol car when they bought meals at the drive-through lane October 8 of a Burger King restaurant in Los Lunas, New Mexico.

The officers ate about half of their burgers before discovering marijuana on the meat, the lawsuit said. They used a field test kit to confirm the substance was pot, then went to a hospital for medical evaluations.

"It gives a whole new meaning to the word 'Whopper,"' the officers' attorney, Sam Bregman, said Monday.

"The idea that these hoodlums would put marijuana into a hamburger and therefore attempt to impair law enforcement officers trying to do their jobs is outrageous."

Three Burger King employees were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and aggravated battery on an officer, a felony. They later were indicted.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Bernalillo County, alleges personal injury, negligence, battery and violation of fair practices. It seeks unspecified damages along with legal costs.

Officials at Miami-based Burger King declined to comment, citing a company policy against discussing pending litigation.

Nov 6, 2006

Indian sex survey reveals interesting findings

I suppose anonymous surveys do probably have some truth to them. Reuters
NEW DELHI - Nearly two-thirds of young Indian men expect the woman they marry to be a virgin, but nearly half have had sex with prostitutes, according to a poll.

The survey of more than 2,500 men aged between 16 and 25 conducted by India Today magazine across 11 cities found that 49 percent claimed to have had sex with a sex worker while 37 percent said they had a homosexual experience.

But 63 percent of young men in conservative India said they expected the women they married to be a virgin.

The average age of their first sexual encounter appears to be falling -- to 18 years from 23 in a similar survey two years ago, but condom use is on the rise, the report said. More than half of the men surveyed said they always used a condom.

Fourteen percent of those surveyed said they had sex with a member of their own family.
According to IHT, these sorts of surveys are becoming more regular in Indian magazines....indicating a trend towards sexual liberalization and breaking of taboos.

Great! That's definitely the right road to go towards!

I suppose there will be a margin of error when it comes to these surveys, thought the poll did not mention any.

Oct 30, 2006

Monkeys watching cricket

My brother emailed this picture to me and a bunch of other people. I usually find some of the stuff amusing...However, in this case, the fact that he sent this is more amusing than the article itself.

Needless to say, I have blocked all means of communication with my brother with immediate effect....

Oct 26, 2006

World Of Warcraft expansion delayed

Screenshot of the game from the creator's website...


I was thinking of restarting the game and had heard about the expansion set. Let's see how it turns out...

From BBC...
Blizzard has announced the release of the Burning Crusade expansion pack is now being delayed until January 2007.

The expansion, which gives players new races, territories and more powerful characters, was scheduled to appear in late 2006.

But Blizzard said more time was needed to "further refine" the extras.

Since it launched in 2004, the massively-multiplayer online fantasy role-playing game has proved a huge hit. Now more than six million people have signed up to play the game and send their warriors, warlocks, rogues and other characters questing in Azeroth.

The Burning Crusade is the first big expansion of World of Warcraft that makes a variety of changes to the game.

It was due to appear before Christmas 2006, but Blizzard said it was delaying this launch date by a "few extra weeks".

In a statement, Mike Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard, said: "We feel confident that the extra time spent polishing the game will result in the high-quality experience that our players expect and deserve."

In mid-October, Blizzard began a closed trial test of the Burning Crusade in which a few players got the chance to try out the new races, places and abilities in the expansion.

Blizzard said the few extra weeks would give those taking part in the test more time to "participate in the final stages of development and continue providing valuable feedback".

Blizzard has yet to give details of exact worldwide launch dates or how much the expansion will cost.

Oct 24, 2006

GPS in your car can hypnotize you


Hilarious! The world is definitely getting stupider.

I just saw the commercial for that new Lexus that can parallel park itself....Perhaps we'll have some folks climbing on top other cars.

Too much technology is not a good thing. The human race is inherently dumb and providing them with tools of convenience will, not only spoil them, but make them dumber.
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German motorist followed the command "Turn right now!" from his navigation system and crashed into a small toilet hut by the side of the road -- about 30 yards before the crossing he was meant to take.

The overly obedient 53-year-old from Freiburg drove his sport utility vehicle off the road onto into a building site, up a stairway and into the small toilet shack, police in the eastern town of Rudolstadt said Sunday.

It caused 2,000 euros ($2,500) worth of damage to the stairway, 100 euros damage to his car, and he was also fined 35 euros.

Earlier this month an 80-year-old motorist also chose to follow his navigation system and ignored a "closed for construction" sign on a Hamburg motorway. He then crashed into a pile of sand but neither he nor his passenger were injured.

Oct 23, 2006

Fundamentalism in Pakistani Colleges - an update

I recently commented on the IJT's activities at Punjab University when I read a TIME article which described some of the activities of these hooligans. Seems like things are now getting out of hand. Here is the Dawn editorial from the the 16th of October. This is so tragic. All these people should be put behind bars.

THE Lahore police have failed to stop a group of angry Punjab University students from blocking the city’s main arteries, causing commuters and transporters hardship and distress over the past week. Students belonging to Islami Jamiat-i-Tulaba have been demanding the reinstatement of a number of fellow students who were rusticated by the vice-chancellor. The latter was forced to take the extreme step after failing to rein in the IJT hoodlums who caused disruptions in normal academic activities on the campus. Backed by the Jamaat-i-Islami, the student group has a long history of resorting to arm-twisting of teachers and the university administration to get its way in the conduct of institutional and extra-curricular affairs. Groups of the student body routinely go around imposing a self-righteous moral code on the campus, often in violation of all rules and regulations; the latest has been the IJT’s bid to get the university administration to dismantle the newly set-up department of musicology. The self-proclaimed guardians of morality are also accused of forcing the staff to manipulate exam dates, alter result cards and allow non-enrolled students to occupy hostel rooms. Thus far the student group’s highhanded tactics were confined to the university campus. But the latest acts of high-handedness witnessed in the vicinity of the PU’s new campus during the last week seem now to be getting out of hand: public transport was attacked and the roads were blocked, causing massive traffic jams that lasted several hours.

All this is more than conduct unbecoming on the part of the errant student organisation, and calls for appropriate action by the university administration and the law enforcement agencies. This must be done to ensure that normal academic activities on campus are not affected, nor roads blocked in protest over matters that are in breach of the law.

Hey..do my homework for me...and I'll ...uh...make you a commander

Not suprising that his brother-in-law wrote it or translated it. I am not sure I even understand this news item, since the writer has used so many pronouns....but what is obvious is that now is a very good time to be close to the President....
The Urdu version published by Ferozsons is a hard-bound edition containing 411 pages and priced at Rs495. Initially 20,000 copies have been published.

It is believed that Sehba Musharraf and president’s former deputy military secretary Brigadier Asim Saleem Bajwa, who now commands the 111 Brigade, played an active role in the publication of the Urdu edition.

The translation itself is the work of the president’s brother-in-law. Apparently, it was on their advice that the president changed the title which according to him made more sense in the Pakistan context and as he put it: “Pakistan always remains foremost in mind.”

President Musharraf has repeatedly appreciated the ‘hard work and loyalty’ of Brigadier Bajwa, the man without whom he says his book would not have been possible.

While expressing his gratitude for Mr Bajwa again on Saturday at the book launch, the president said: “He has just been promoted.” However, he hastened to add: “But that’s not because of the book!”
Whether or not he got the promotion because of his role and close relationship with the Pres is not even the point. The more I hear about Musharraf, his book and the cronies who helped write, translate, publish, and promote it....the more disillusioned I get. I really don't see how this helps the cause of the country.

Though it certainly does assist Musharraf to put puppets and loyalists around him....

Oct 19, 2006

Borat gets invited to his 'home' country - Wow wow wee waa!

That's awesome! I don't even know what to say. I feel bad for the Kazakh's because Sacha Cohen has completely made fun of their country so much. Though I don't know if its that serious. I think most people know he is faking it and is a comedian. I don't see the need to go to such great lengths to improve their image, and to invite the guy over. He isn't going to change He's looking for laughs.

My advice to the Kazakh foreign ministry... Ignore him!

Here is the story from Reuters...

Yekshimash!
ALMATY (Reuters) - Alarmed by the antics of a fictional TV reporter who portrays their country as a nation of horse urine-drinking misogynists, Kazakh authorities have invited the British comedian who plays the character to come and see the truth for himself.

Rakhat Aliyev, Kazakh first deputy foreign minister and a powerful son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, asked British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to visit the vast, oil-rich steppe nation and meet normal human beings rather than the larger-than-life lunatics shown by Cohen's TV reporter Borat.

"His trip could yield a lot of discoveries -- that women not only travel inside buses but also drive their own cars, that we make wine from grapes, that Jews can freely attend synagogues and so on," Aliyev told local news agency Kazakhstan Today late Wednesday.

The Central Asian state's Foreign Ministry threatened Cohen with legal action last year after he hosted an international music show as Borat, who arrived in an Air Kazakh propeller plane controlled by a one-eyed pilot clutching a vodka bottle.

His coarse jokes included portraying the world's ninth largest nation as a land where cow-punching is a sport and locals would first shoot a dog and then have a party.

In the forthcoming movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," Borat depicts Kazakhs as a nation of misogynists, racists and anti-Semites whose favorite drink is fermented horse urine.

The Kazakh authorities shut down Cohen's www.borat.kz site, prompting a move to a new homepage, www.borat.tv.

But the influential Aliyev, with interests in professional soccer and sugar trade, has made a pacifying gesture.

"I understand that the feelings of many people are hurt by Cohen's show," he said. "But we must have a sense of humor and respect the creative freedom of others." JS

Musharraf's wishlist

A recent rss feed from Dawn caught my eye....
President General Pervez Musharraf Thursday expressed full condidence in the country's defensive deterrence which is potent and much credible than ever before. "We shall continue to improve upon it," he said while addressing the Armed Forces Officers of Islamabad and Rawalpindi Garrisons here. He said induction of hi-tech weaponary to enchance the fighting punch of the three services is proceeding as per the envisaged force goals, while restructuring of the Army has resulted in improving teeth to tail ratio while making resources available to add to the Army's potency. The President gave an overview of the domestic environment and spelled out four areas which are and will continue to be his focus. These inlcuded economy, combating militancy and extremism, efforts to sustain democracy and strengthening national integration. He said all efforts were being made to bring Balochistan at par with other provinces. In FATA, the President expressed optimism in the ongoing political process under Governor NWFP. He expressed satisfaction on the improvement of environment in North Wazirastan Agency.

Glad to see his priorities are set. How about spreading education? Some infrastructure? Anyway, I am sure he's tired of hearing all the blah blah about spreading literacy. Boring topic....after all, the speech was to his cronies in the armed forces. They obviously do not want democracy to spread, the people to get education. We often talk about the feudals surpressing the rights of their villages, making sure they remain poor and reliant on the masters...Here we see another part of the same cycle that is draining Pakistan continously. The army....Give the army weapons and something to fight about (India, terrorists etc), and be angry towards and you have a loyal population and a loyal force behind you.

General Musharraf's book. Buy it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, your local bookstore...or just download it free off the web in pdf format!


So much for that.....


It took less than a couple of weeks for them to find a pdf format of his book "In the line of fire". More like in the line of copyright infringement!


32 mb...that's nuts.
Thanks to teeth maestro for the post and for pointing out this very interesting development...


Oct 18, 2006

And then there was one

Sad day at my house. One of my goldfishes died this morning of Swimbladder Disease. Its partner is still alive and seemingly healthy. I'll keep a close eye on his health.

Swimbladder disease can be a result of several things. So exact cause of death is uncertain. Water was cleaned and fresh. I changed it again last night when I saw it was swimming sideways. I gave it pea skins last as per recommended by various online fish health articles.

First 2 weeks in a new place are always tough. I am sorry that it did not last that period. I am sad to see it go.

Oct 16, 2006

Virtual Reality gaming and chronic neck pain

I laughed for an hour when Rich sent this picture to me. This is hilarious. Be sure to check out the link and the description talking about this...

What a device...

That needs to get smaller really fast!

Bush finally finds them...

One of Time's photos of the week. Linked straight to their site.

Oct 15, 2006

Fundamentalism in Pakistani Colleges

This Time article painted a unflattering picture of Pakistan's colleges. I wasn't too impressed with the manner by which the author made assumptions based on one college, Punjab University, and asserted them with such confidance as being applicable across the country. However, the author certainly brought to light a trend that seems to be rising in Pakistan. Though, the author does mention that the student group IJT has a small proportion of students, the power they enjoy is extravagant. Administrators and other student alike seem to be quiet when bullied. This is just another indication of moderates and liberals not having a voice. It's something that I have been feeling for a while now. Why can't the liberal and moderate voices unite in condemnation of this sort of stupidity? Why don't they speak out against it? Its their inability to act and to stand against the vile elements in their society that is bring such a terrible name to the religion and the culture. Only when the majority of the hard working, honest, moderates speak out, will there be any peace and reconciliation. Till that occurs, this cycle of fanatacism and east versus west name calling will continue.

Here are some interesting excerts...
This fall, when the university's administrators tried to introduce a program in musicology and performing arts, the campus erupted in protest. "Pakistan is an Islamic country, and our institutions must reflect that," says Umair Idrees, a master's degree student and secretary-general of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (I.J.T.), the biggest student group on campus. "The formation of these departments is an attack on Islam and a betrayal of Pakistan. They should not be part of the university curriculum."
The article talk about how this group, IJT has basically taken over the school. I can see it happening too. It bullies people into submission. According to the article and the student he interviewed, the administrators are scared of this student group, so much so that they change syllabi and classes, to accomodate the groups conservative demands.

An atmosphere of moral rigidity governs much of campus life. I.J.T. members have been known to physically assault students for drinking, flirting or kissing on campus. "We are compelled by our religion to use force if we witness immoral public behavior," says Naveed. "If I see someone doing something wrong, I can stop him and the I.J.T. will support me." Threats of a public reprimand or allegations of immoral behavior are enough to keep most students toeing the I.J.T. line. There is no university regulation segregating men from women in the dining halls, but students know that mingling is taboo. "If I talk to a girl in line at the canteen, I.J.T. members will tell me to get my food and get out," says Rehan Iqbal, 25, an M.B.A. student, who is sitting on the floor of a hallway with female classmate Malka Ikran, 22. It's a nice autumn day, and a shady green lawn beckons through an open window, but they dare not sit outside.It's too public. "There are certain places where I know I can't talk to my male friends," says Ikran. When asked what would happen if she alked to a boy at the library, for example, she just shrugs. "I don't know. I would ever try it. I'm too afraid."


This is so damn irritating. Its terribly embarrasing to read this in Time magazine. I feel so bad about this nonsense. I wish I had the power or the ability to do something about it....

It's not just students who feel stifled by the I.J.T.'s strict moral code. Faculty members at Punjab University say that if I.J.T. objects to a professor's leanings, or even his syllabus, it can cause problems. It doesn't take much to raise questions about a teacher's moral qualifications. "Those who could afford to leave, did so," says Hasan Askari Rizvi, a former professor of political science who is now a political analyst. "Those who stayed learned not to touch controversial subjects. The role of the university is to advance knowledge, but at P.U. the quality of education is undermined because one group with a narrow, straitjacketed worldview controls it."
Horrible how even those in charge can not do anything. This is because they don't the the public backing of the community, the police, the government. Its bloody taboo and unwise and plain stupid to stand up to these hoodlums in this day an age. However much fear there is, people need to realize that this is not the way to live. The government really needs to help out the majority of the people, who I hope atleast, desire to live without groups like this hounding them. This is how the article ends...

For now a future in politics is far from the minds of most P.U. students, who just want to enjoy their last few years on campus. "We would love to have a student union," says Iqbal. "Then we could plan events and activities and take care of the students' problems ourselves. Right now, only I.J.T. has that kind of power. If the I.J.T. had competition, that would change. Then you would see what students really think." But until free elections and campaigning are permitted, the religious groups will continue to walk large on campus. The same could be said of Pakistan.

I certainly hope not....

Oct 13, 2006

Microcredit financing and the Nobel Peace Prize

This year's Nobel Peace prize has been awarded to Muhammad Yunus, who set up a bank in Bangladesh in the 70's to help the poor using microcredit financing. Seems like such a great idea. I know this is my upteenth post about the Nobel Prize....but I find this sort of stuff very inpirational. It's great to know that someone from our part of the world has won such a prestigious award. What is even nicer is that this award has gone to such a humble man. He is planning on using the prize money to help out the poor and to give it back to the community.
The 65-year-old economist said he would use part of his share of the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award money to create a company that would make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor. The rest of his share would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh, he told reporters.
I did't know what Microcredit Financing was till I read up about it. Apparently 99% of the loans are paid back according to Yunus. This is such an inspriational story. From CNN.

Yunus told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview that his "eureka moment" came while chatting to a shy woman weaving bamboo stools with calloused fingers.

Sufia Begum was a 21-year-old villager and a mother of three when the economics professor met her in 1974 and asked her how much she earned. She replied that she borrowed 5 taka (about $0.09) from a middleman for the bamboo for each stool.

All but $0.02 cents of that went back to the lender.

"I thought to myself, my God, for five takas she has become a slave," Yunus said in the interview.

"I couldn't understand how she could be so poor when she was making such beautiful things," he said.

The following day, he and his students did a survey in the woman's village, Jobra, and discovered that 43 of the villagers owed a total of 856 taka (about $27).

"I couldn't take it anymore. I put the $27 out there and told them they could liberate themselves," he said, and pay him back whenever they could. The idea was to buy their own materials and cut out the middleman.

They all paid him back, day by day, over a year, and his momentary generosity grew into a full-fledged concept that came to fruition in 1976 when he began to set up experimental microfinance projects in rural parts of Bangladesh. Grameen Bank was formally founded in 1983.

In the year's since, the bank says it has loaned 290.03 billion taka ($5.72 billion) to more than 6 million Bangladeshis.

Oct 12, 2006

Interdisciplinary Nobel Prize...Indication of where the road is headed

I am in an intedisciplinary doctoral program. We have these discussion often. This year's Nobel prize with to Roger Kornberg. (His dad had won it earlier as well). He won it based on his work on transcription. He used crystallographic means to help solve the puzzle.

But chemistry bloggers are disgruntled that Kornberg's use of a chemistry tool — crystallography — was enough to warrant a chemistry Nobel prize. Unofficial mutterings from chemistry department corridors confirm some surprise at the choice of recipient. "It is certainly on the biological side of biochemistry," says Malcolm Green, an inorganic chemist from the University of Oxford, UK.


My crystallography professor was pretty thrilled though. She has been doing interdiscinplinary work and is one of the co-founder of the program that I am part of. So, when she talked about the prize in class, she didn't feel anything was amiss. Here is the rest from Nature News.

People working in the field are thrilled at the news. "Kornberg's work is a tour de force in understanding how transcription works at an atomic level," says Richard Treisman at Cancer Research UK's transcription laboratory in London.


The solution?

"What we need is a biology prize," jokes Robert Schrock, an inorganic chemist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who won the prize for chemistry in 2005. Schrock's prize, shared with Yves Chauvin and Robert Grubbs, was for hard-core chemistry — metathesis, a catalytic reaction used by organic chemists as a way of swapping different groups of atoms in two reacting molecules. This delighted many chemistry fundamentalists, says Schrock, who has heard plenty of grumbles about biology encroaching on chemistry.


Makes sense. If there isn't a biology prize, then biochemistry research will definitely 'encroach' upon chemistry space. It is also apparent that health related or therapeutically relevant discoveries and research are coming to the forefront and are gaining importance. THe more complicated the disease, the greater the requirement for interdisciplinary work.


The 2005 prize came after a run of bio-related chemistry prizes: in 2002 for determining the structure of biological macromolecules; in 2003 for deciphering channels in cell membranes; and in 2004 for the discovery of the role of ubiquitin in intracellular protein degradation. "Chemistry is becoming more applied," Schrock suggests as one reason for the trend. And, after all, "biology is chemistry", he insists.

Chemistry is evolving naturally, says Schrock. There are fewer developments in basic chemistry than in its biological applications, which means that fundamental contributions to chemistry get less recognition. It's a matter of labels, he says. "Chemistry is only going to become more important — however you want to name it."

The Nobel committee for chemistry 2006 is chaired by a professor of theoretical physical chemistry, Håkan Wennerström, from Lund University in Sweden. The rest of the members include: a professor of biophysics, a professor of organic chemistry, a professor of molecular biophysics, a professor of physiological chemistry, and a professor of biochemistry. "No surprise that the prize goes to biostuff," laments one blogger.

But Aaron Klug, who has worked with Kornberg and who won the chemistry prize in 1982 for developing crystallographic electron microscopy and working out the structure of nucleic acid–protein complexes, is happy with the choice. "Kornberg certainly thinks like a chemist," he says. "The whole way he handled the RNA polymerase material is beautiful chemistry."

Klug goes as far as to suggest that this year's physiology and medicine prize, awarded to Andrew Fire and Craig Mello for discovering RNA interference, could also have been a chemistry prize. "The question is whether large molecules are part of chemistry. And of course they are."

Oct 11, 2006

Actual pictures of the Goldfishes...

So last post, I had put up a random fish bowl and a random gold fish. Anyway here are some decent pictures of the gold fish. I didn't want to use the flash, coz they would have a heart attack.

I haven't named them yet...




 Posted by Picasa

Oct 9, 2006

My new pet goldfish



So this picture is not my gold fish. I have 2 plus my bowl is nicer. I just don't want to take pictures of them right now. They are kinda freaked out.

So I bought 2 goldfish yesterday. A day earlier I had bought a 2 gallon bowl, some pebbles and a plastic plant, plus this rock like thingy with a hole in it.

Anyway, the ride back from the store must have been tough for them. I have taken care of fish before, so I was aware of some of the issues that they might have had. I made sure the water temperature was the same as the water they came in. Plus I made sure the possible Chlorine in the bowl was nullified. (I used tap water)

So for the first day, they pretty much stuck to the bottom close to the pebbles. Obviously scared. I felt bad. But i knew I should just leave them alone. Any noise, whether it be on the table or far away would frighten them. So I put them in a place where I seldom go to.

My kitchen.

Anyway, they did eat the food. But they do it ever so carefully. Slowly creeping up to the surface. It took them 10 mins to float up that 3 inches and have the guts to eat the flakes. I was happy though. I like them. One is bloody frisky and is always freaking out and playing with her reflection. She is the common goldfish.

The other is really chill and quiet. I think that is the smarter one. Anyway.

so they have survived 24 hours.

I know some animal lovers amongst you will urge me to get an aquarioum and more space. I am planning on that very soon....

Oct 8, 2006

Pakistan Earthquake: A year later...


I watched BBC World this morning. They were interviewing earthquake survivors in Muzafarabad. Reporter painted quite a terribly grim picture. He said, that according to experts, a conservative estimates of full recovery from the devastation is 8 years.

73,000 people died...

From CCTV.com.

Pakistan´s quake aftermath : many still face uncertain future
One year after the massive earthquake that rocked South Asia, many, especially children, still face an uncertain future. Tens of thousands of families continue to live in make-shift camps . Numbers are expected to swell, when many now living in the mountains come down to shelter for the winter.

The magnitude 7.6 quake ripped through Pakistan's North West Frontier and Kashmir on October the eighth last year. More than eighty thousand people died and at least three million were left homeless.

Many children were made orphans by the disaster.

Hifza and his brother lost their parents, and are now being looked after by their grandmother. But memories continue to haunt the children.

Hifza's grandmother, earthquake survivor said,"Every time he hears his father's name, he cries."

Two year old Fiza lost her mother in the earthquake. She's since been in the care of her grandfather and great-aunt. And they're concerned about the future of the little girl.

Hifza's grandmother, earthquake survivor said,"My sister and I are old. Who will look after Fiza when we are gone? What will happen to her?"

Reconstruction has been slow, despite aid pledges amounting to almost 7 billion US dollars.

Pakistan's Deputy Finance Minister says that international help is still vital.

Omar Ayub, Pakistan's Deputy Finance Minister said,"They should be here, they should contribute and they should come in and work with the people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan."

The non-governmental organization, Oxfam, says only 17 percent of the 450 thousand affected households have begun building permanent homes. This means almost two million people are still living in temporary shelters.

And for these, a pressing concern is how, or if, they will survive the coming winter.


Other links...

http://www.pakquake.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Kashmir_earthquake
http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/response/pakistan/index.asp

Weird Sex Laws

Stumbleupon is insane. Everyone needs to install it!

So I stumbled upon this site. I love reading these sorts of facts!

A law in Faibanks, Alaska, does not allow moose to have sex on city streets.

In Ventura County, California, cats and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit.

In Florida it is illegal for single, divorced, or widowed women to parachute on Sunday afternoons.

If a police officer in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, suspects a couple is having sex inside a vehicle they must honk their horn three times, and wait two minutes before being allowed to approach the scene.

Women must address bachelors as master instead of mister, according to an Illinois state law.

A law in Oblong, Illinois makes it a crime to make love while fishing or hunting on your wedding day.

In Ames Iowa a husband may not take more than three gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife.

A law in Alexandria, Minnesota makes it illegal for a husband to make love to his wife if his breath smells like garlic, onions, or sardines.

In Bozeman, Montana, you can't perform any sexual acts in the front yard of any home, after sundown, and if you are nude.

A Helena, Montana law states that a woman cannot dance on a saloon table unless her clothing weights more than three pounds, two ounces.

Hotel owners in Hastings, Nebraska are required by law to provide a clean, white cotton nightshirt to each guest. According to the law, no couple may have sex unless they are wearing the nightshirts.

Any couple making out inside a vehicle, and accidentally sounding the horn during their lustful act, may be taken to jail according to a Liberty Corner, New Jersey law.

During lunch breaks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, no couple should engage in a sexual act while parked in their vehicle, unless their car has curtains.

In Nevada sex without a condom is considered illegal.

In Cleveland, Ohio women are not allowed to wear patent-leather shoes.

Clinton, Oklahoma, has a law against masturbating while watching two people having sex in a car.

In Willowdale, Oregon, no man may curse while having sex with his wife.

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania it is illegal to have sex with a truck driver inside a toll booth.

Hotels in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are required by law to furnish their rooms with twin beds only. There should be a minimum of two feet between the beds, and it is illegal for a couple to make love on the floor between the beds.

In Kingsville, Texas, there is a law against two pigs having sex on the city's airport property.

A Tremonton, Utah law states that no woman is allowed to have sex with a man while riding in an ambulance. In addition to normal charges, the woman's name will be published in the local newspaper. The man does not receive any punishment.

No woman may go in public without wearing a corset in Norfolk, Virginia.

In the state of Washington there is a law against having sex with a virgin under any circumstances. (including the wedding night)

The only acceptable sexual position in Washington D.C. is the missionary-style position. Any other sexual position is considered illegal.

In Connorsville, Wisconsin no man shall shoot of a gun while his female partner is having a sexual orgasm.

Oct 6, 2006

If you forgot to wish me for my birthday....here is your next opportunity!

Found this cool site using stumbled upon, which is an awesome tool!

I plugged in my birthday and this is what it told me amongst other things...



Cool!

So if you recall I wrote a post about wishing there were some sort of lifetime statistics some time back. Some of the information that the site spewed out tells me the sort of things I am looking for. Based on average ofcourse. Obviously, real stats would be hard to come by. Maybe when we're all robots....

Anyway here they are!

Time Trivia
During your lifetime...

Blinking Amazing!
You've blinked about 132 million times in your life time. Apparently we blink about once ever four seconds, or 15 times a minute, and we're asleep for a third of our lives.

Egg-citing cells!
If it could live that long, a human sperm could swim about 4.0 kilometres (about 2.5 miles). A healthy human sperm swims about 3mm a minutes (about a tenth of an inch).

Lightning speeds!
Light would have travelled about 238.26 million million kilometres (about 148.08 million million miles). Light travels at 299,792 kilometres in one second (186,298 miles per second).

Oh boy oh boy... oh girl...
There have been about 3,338 million people born. There's also been about 1,431 million deaths, an overall increase in the World population of about 1,923 million people.

Got it nailed!
If left uncut, your fingernails would have grown about 64 centimetres (about 25 inches). They grow about an 2½cm (an inch) a year, four times faster than toenails.

Oct 5, 2006

What I'm working on



People ask me what my research is on and, though nice of them, most people don't really understand. Anyway I thought it would be cool to put up an image of the protein that I am currently working on. Though, in all honesty, my current project could be on any other protein, but I think i's particularly cool that my supervisors have selected the one above. I got the image using JMOL and obtained the crystal structure and coordinates from the PDB.

So...that's HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase. (HIV-1 RT)

It reverse transcribes viral RNA into DNA during replication. This (viral) DNA is then plugged into host DNA and when proteins are made from that DNA, the virus propogates...

Blocking the action of HIV-1 RT canblock the spread of the virus

So yeah - A pretty picture of a deadly enzyme.

Oct 4, 2006

What a sad way to die....

This poor chap in Vienna died and no one knew about for 5 whole years. This story was published but there must be tons of lonely endings just like every days. This is so sad. I wish nothing like this would happen to any of us. Even though most of us (my friends) are seperated and we live alone, it's always good to keep in regular touch. I call or make some sort of contact with my brother every day. Life in the US is really very lonely. It's about work and coming home, tv and sleeping. The family oriented, central home culture which is prevalent in societies in the East is an alien concept. It's harder for the students and scholars who basically leave their families in hope of a brighter future and all that....

Anyway...my point is that keep in touch with your circle of friends and keep an eye out for each other...

From Reuters...

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian authorities have discovered the body of a man who apparently died at home in bed five years ago, a Vienna newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The corpse of Franz Riedl, thought to have been in his late 80s when he died, went undetected for so long because his rent had been paid by automatic order from the bank account into which he received his pension, the daily Kurier said.

Neighbors said there was no strange smell coming from Riedl's apartment and authorities who found the body after a court order was given to enter said his body appeared to have "mummified" and was well preserved.

"He had been frail and a woman had helped him," the husband of the apartment block's caretaker told Kurier, adding that mail had always piled up outside the pensioner's flat. "We thought he had moved in with her or gone to an old people's home."

Police said they were not certain as to exactly when the man had died, but that they had found only schilling notes in the apartment -- the currency used by Austria before the introduction of the euro on January 1, 2002.


This story somehow reminded me of Tuesday's with Morrie....It's a great read. A good movie too. Amonst many things, Morrie Schwartz talks about dying and how to embrace death and appreciate life all the more. Incidently both Author and Professor Schwartz went to Brandeis! Woo hoo

Here is a summary from the website and a picture of the book cover.


Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live.

Foley's Folly


What a lame title! Actually its pretty sweet. I wonder if the NY Times thought of that!

I haven't posted an entry in a while. My avid readership must have been lost geese without my guidance.

Anyway, the Foley scandal is all over the news. To be honest, I don't really give a hoot about this type of news. But you have got to read the transcript that J from the PDB pointed me towards. It is hilarious! I can't believe this dude was a Congressman...or a Senator. Whatever.

Read!!!!

And here is the entire transcript!

It's in PDF format readers...

---------------UPDATE----------------
the background. Thanks to TIME magazine
Opinion may be divided over whether the e-mails Florida Representative Mark Foley sent a teen-age male congressional page last year were inappropriate or even constituted outright sexual harassment. But most observers would agree that what was almost as surprising as the allegations themselves was how swiftly the six-term Republican congressman from West Palm Beach quit a thriving career on Capitol Hill after the e-mails were aired Thursday night on the ABC evening news. And a big reason for his abrupt exit, say Florida pundits, is that Foley, 52, was staring at the elements of a perfect political storm that not even a candidate from a hurricane-prone state could withstand in today's nasty election climate: not only possible accusations of pedophilia, but also the possible stain of gross hypocrisy, given Foley's high-profile legislative crusade against child sex offenders. "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida," Foley said in a statement confirming that he would not seek re-election next month.

His work against child sex offenders is certainly the most glaring irony of the emerging Foley scandal. Foley is a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and has played key roles in recent legislation to protect kids, including the Volunteers for Children Act, which gives organizations that work with youths access to FBI fingerprint checks to make sure they don't hire child molesters. Foley's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which has passed both the House and Senate, overhauls the national monitoring system for predatory pedophiles by closing legal loopholes, setting minimum registration standards and better coordinating law enforcement; he also co-sponsored measures to eliminate child pornography and exploitive child model sites on the Internet — and he has worked closely with the likes of John Walsh, host of Fox TV's popular America's Most Wanted.

Foley's aides insist that the e-mails in question do nothing to belie his commitment to child protection issues, saying the exchanges between the congressman and the page — in which Foley asks what the boy would like for his birthday and requests a picture of him — were innocuous and "nonchalant" chat. But the boy, a page in the office of Louisiana Representative Rodney Alexander, also a Republican, e-mailed other colleagues saying Foley's messages "freaked me out," and he repeatedly called the photo request "sick."

In other e-mail exchanges with the page, Foley discusses another boy who he remarks is "in really great shape — i am just finished riding my bike on a 25 mile journey now heading to the gym — what school like for you this year?" As a result, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning congressional watchdog group, has asked the House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct to investigate, saying the legislators have "an obligation to protect the teenagers who come to Congress to learn about the legislative process." The committee, it said, "must investigate any allegation that a page has been subjected to sexual advances by members of the House."

Crystallographer wins Nobel prize for Chemistry





news @ nature.com - Crystallography grabs chemistry Nobel - Structural determination of RNA polymerase unlocked secrets of cells.




Link to his lab, where I swiped the photos from...

This is pretty close to home. I am sure Dr. Berman, here at the PDB, will mention something about Dr. Kornberg in class tomorrow. (I am taking Biophysical Chemistry with her).

What's interesting is that we were talking about X-Ray crystallography just on Monday and she mentioned that it would be rare to see a structure win a Nobel prize. Myogobin, Haemoglobin, DNA, RNA...these are the big ones. So now Dr. Kornberg has won the Nobel for the structure plus his work on transcription. That's pretty cool.

I wonder how many more of the X-ray structure crystallographers are left to get the award. Dr. Berman, I am sure, knows this dude. She knows everyone in the field.

The award falls very much on the boundaries of where chemistry interacts with biology, she notes: "It's a perfect example of interdisciplinary research." Previous chemistry prizes have gone to crystallographers for work that some might perceive as being on the edges of chemistry — notably Dorothy Hodgkin, who was awarded the prize in 1964 for solving biochemical structures and with whom Howard worked. The divisions between the sciences are becoming much less obvious, she says.


Dr. Hodgkin above! Another name I am starting to recognize a lot. Anyway this is cool to me. Seems really close to home here at the Protein Data Bank...

Secret Society? I thought it was all fiction!


A Secret Society, Spilling a Few Secrets - New York Times

From NY Times...

For more than two centuries, the Freemasons and their grandiose rituals have played a secretive, mysterious role in American life. One of the Masons’ symbols looks a lot like the all-seeing eye on the back of every $1 bill. And look whose picture is on the other side.

George Washington was not the first Mason, and not the only famous one. Mozart worked thinly disguised touches of Masonry into operas. Fourteen presidents and everyone from the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale to the comedian Red Skelton belonged. Masons presided when the cornerstone was laid at the Statue of Liberty.


Wow! I don't know about you guys. But that is really cool. I always love hearing about these secret societies. Apparently this one does a whole lot of community service too. I wonder how they select their members.

54,000 in New York, down from a high of 346,413 in 1929. Membership rose again after World War II, rising to 307,323 in 1957 before beginning a long slide.

As Mr. Bidnick explains it, New York’s Masons are heavily involved in community service, underwriting medical research and supplying 29,000 American flags,one for every public school classroom in the city. But still there are the secret rooms where Masons gather.


Anyway....reading on....The Masons are giving tours of their New York Lodge and also recruiting members!

So people can see the gilded ceiling, the marble walls, the benches along the sides for the rank and file and, at either end, the thronelike chairs for high-ranking Masons. And, in a conference room next door, there is more gold, though it is only paint on a copy of a larger-than-life statue of George Washington.

The lodge also hired a public relations firm to spread the word about its 225th anniversary, which was last month. And the Masons have run advertisements in movie theaters and run one-day classes to award the first three Masonic degrees in a single session. Until then, would-be Masons had to spend months learning what they needed to know to rise from Entered Apprentice to Fellowcraft to Master Mason.


It's like World of Warcraft all over again. Another world that to play/work in. Master Mason. I wonder what they do besides this community service....I hope its not a cult or something.

If a Mason Master reads my blog, I hope he doesn't track me down and perform experiments on me or something.

Anyway, I am very intrigued by this society. Maybe I'll get that book which I have pictured above and learn more about it...

Anyone know anything about these folks?

Sep 28, 2006

Pink is not the only one who is MissUnderstood! Haw Haw...Pakistan is too!

In Independent Online Edition > World Politics Musharraf portrays Pakistan as a misunderstood nation. Definitely something I agree with.


More to come...I am testing Google Toolbar's connectivity with Blogger so I am not writing more on this subject. Maybe later tonight...

Firefox + Performancing -> Blogger

I am updating my blog straight from Firefox using Performancing. It's connectivity with Blogger is impressive....This does make it easier to blog while I am browsing at work


powered by performancing firefox

What do 32 mm shells and 34 inch busts have in common?


This is an awesome story from Reuters. .

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai coup leaders have banned go-go girls from dancing near tanks and troops on Bangkok streets as a distraction from the serious business of power, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

"It is not appropriate to entertain soldiers while they are on duty," Colonel Acra Tiprote told Reuters after a troupe of 10 women in tight camouflage vests and shorts posed with soldiers and tanks while making a music video.

"People should differentiate between entertainment and seriousness. A coup is not entertaining," Acra said, although the tanks sent in to lead Thailand's first coup in 15 years had turned Bangkok into a carnival-type attraction.

Thais and foreign tourists flocked to the Army Headquarters to take picture with tanks and soldiers. Many gave soldiers flowers or food and drink.


So Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been overthrown in a bloodless coup. Its bloodless after all. And not everyone gets to see tanks and armoured vehicles everyday. What can be more sexy than hot girls dancing on top of a killing machine? Its a stupid ban, and I urge the thai..uhhh military leadership to please allow go-go dancers to fraternize with their soldiers.

Sep 27, 2006

What if my name is Jamal and I am White? Shall I send my picture in with my CV?

My friend just posted an interesting blog entry that caught my eye. Thanks H!

I just wanted to follow up on that. So the background is that according to ABC News,
The resumes with the white-sounding names were actually downloaded 17 percent more often by job recruiters than the resumes with black-sounding names.


I did some more google searches and I found more article on the subject and subsequent studies on this trend. According to the website IMDiversity.com...

A recent study shows that people with "white-sounding" names are 50 percent more likely to get a response to their resume than are those with "black-sounding" names.

The study, done by professors at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and the University of Chicago Graduate school of Business, mailed 5,000 resumes in response to job ads in both the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune. Four resumes were sent for each job posting; two well-qualified resumes, one each with a "black-" and "white-sounding" name, and two lesser qualified resumes, again one each for black and white.

Whites Receive More Responses
The resumes that had less gaps in employment and higher-level skills - if they belonged to "white-sounding names - had a 30 percent greater chance of being responded to than the less qualified resume. However, this was not true for the same skilled resume of a "black-sounding" name.

Names were chosen after a study of birth certificates. "White" names included Kristen, Greg, Neil, Emily, Brett, Anne, and Jill. "Black" names included Kareem, Tamika, Rasheed, Ebony, Aisha, and Tyrone. Resumes with "black-sounding" names had only a 6.7 percent chance of receiving a response to their resume, while resumes with "white-sounding" names had a 10.1 percent chance .

The study found as much discrimination in less-skilled jobs, such as cashiering and mailroom attendants, as in more heavily skills-based positions such as regional sales manager and assistant to the president jobs.


That's not all....Read on!! The website asked viewers question about solutions. THis is what they had to say.

Faced with this insidious form of discrimination, we have much to still overcome. But, does that mean that the "good ol'" hostile, blatant form of discrimination has been eradicated?

One letter we received, in response to the Connections program, wrote:

We have had a growing problem with blacks ever since we passed segregation laws. Blacks have grown ever more arrogant. They go around with chips on their should (sic). They are smart ass (sic) talking. The (sic) breed like a bunch of rabbits and the men fail to take care of their kids. They think everybody owes them.

Clearly, we are now battling that which we always have - and that which even "good" people have difficulty discarding from their perceptions and attitudes.

And it is not just between blacks and whites.

Here is another selection from our email bag:

I am a white man and your beliefs disturb me and you need to realize that the white man will bring down you dirty indians (sic) ...


Some of the solutions that were suggested were that if a company is REALLY all for diversity, then they will make it their goal. I think that's great. Hopefully more company's will join the bandwagon.

So much for white and black names...I wonder what'll happen with me when I start applying....

So what then should you do if your name is Jamal and you don't an interview. Fuck that! Don't do anything. One has to stand by one's principles. If the recruiter doesn't think you're good enough for the job because your name says so, then you don't want to work for that company in the first place. Agreed, I am in no position to claim such a harsh stance since I am not looking for a job currently, and have never tasted the depair of a futile job hunt and being without work....but I if you're black or brown or whatever, then you've experienced far more adversity than just not getting phone calls back from potential employers. The world is still racist and solution isn't adapting to the conformations of an unjust society but it is to live with this adversity as best as one can and confronting it.

Sep 26, 2006

Musharraf, Amazon, Jon Stewart, and BestSeller's list?


Firstly, I find it despicable that Musharraf is promoting his book on the world stage using the United Nations, interview with CNN, Fox and other new agencies to promote his book. It's not a responsible idea. It may be strategic but I don't quite see the point of releasing a memoirs while one is still in office and when the contents of the book can have lasting impact on the future of the country which one presides over. India, for one, has already taken a dislike to a few chapters. That can't be helpful to relations between the neighbours. Rehashing Kargil and what-not when we need to be building bridges of peace is not a well thought out move. The President claims that his top advisors and everyone urged him not to release the book, but i read somewhere that he said that like a good general he needs to say what he thinks is right whenever he feels it. Anyway, I think he should have waited.

By the way. It's a bestseller in India, Pakistan and the US and no. 7 on Amazon.com. I ordered it this morning myself. I hope to get it by the end of the weekend.

So I just found out that he is going to be on the Daily Show tonight at 11pm with Jon Stewart. I'll definitely watch and see what happens.

Here is the article from MSNBC
NEW YORK - Jon Stewart welcomed Pakistan's president to "The Daily Show" on Tuesday with tea and a Twinkie.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's tete-a-tete with Stewart on the Comedy Central program was even more unlikely than the much-anticipated meeting between Musharraf, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Bush, planned for Wednesday.

As a gesture mirroring Pakistani hospitality, Stewart welcomed Musharraf with a cup of jasmine green tea, and offered the more American delicacy of a Twinkie. Musharraf chuckled and thanked the host, though Stewart promptly changed the subject.

"Where's Osama bin Laden?" he asked suddenly.
"I don't know," replied Musharraf. "You know where he is? You lead on, we'll follow you."

Musharraf's appearance on "The Daily Show," which was taped late Tuesday and was to air Tuesday evening, was the first time a sitting head of state appeared on the program, a show spokesman said. The comedy show, though, has frequently drawn major political figures, including former President Clinton last week.

The Pakistan president, who is on tour of the U.S., appeared on the program to promote his new memoir, "In the Line of Fire." The book has drawn headlines for, among other things, the Pakistan president's claim that after the Sept. 11 attacks he had no choice but to support the U.S. led war on terror groups or face an American "onslaught."

On balancing the wishes of the U.S. and Pakistan, which is largely anti-American, Musharraf told Stewart: "I've had to learn the art of tightrope-walking many times, and I think I've become quite an expert of that."



Stewart, himself, has also proven deft at balancing both humor and seriousness on "The Daily Show." At one point, he asked Musharraf if he had omitted any mention of the war in Iraq in his memoir because it has "gone so well."

Musharraf again laughed, but said: "It has led certainly to more extremism and terrorism around the world."

To conclude the interview, Stewart put Musharraf on the "Seat of Heat," a new feature for the program in which red lights flash around the studio and the guest is asked a final question.

"George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden — be truthful — who would win a popular vote in Pakistan?" asked Stewart.

"I think they'll both lose miserably," replied Musharraf, an answer met with raucous laughter by the "Daily Show" audience.