Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dinosaur Eel Inspires Bullet-Proof Armor

MIT researchers are investigating how a primitive fish uses its scaly exoskeleton to protect itself from the sharp teeth of its predators. The scientists' goal is to develop a better kind of armor for soldiers to similarly protect them from bullets, shrapnel, and bombs.

The 16-inch-long Polypterus senegalus - which is commonly called the gray bichir or "dinosaur eel" although it's not technically an eel - has been around for at least 96 million years. Like many fish of that era, the dinosaur eel is cloaked in light-weight full-body armor. Few modern fish possess such a protective suit, making the old fish a living relic of dinosaur times.

The researchers studied how the dinosaur eel protects itself while swimming in its native habitat of muddy, freshwater pools in West Africa. The dinosaur eel's scales are a mere 10^-8 meters thick, but the MIT team discovered how the layers of the scales combine to protect the fish's soft body.

The scientists found that the four layers of scales are made of different materials, with specific geometries, thicknesses, and inter-layer junctions that contribute to the extremely efficient design that helps it survive attacks and bites.

In their study, the scientists mimicked a biting attack on a piece of scale that had been surgically removed from a living fish. When bitten, the scales could dissipate the energy of the strike. By forcing the crack to make a circle around the site of penetration, the scales kept the damage localized, rather than spreading throughout the entire armor, which is what happens in many ceramic materials.

The researchers hope that some of these design characteristics could be used in the development of armor for soldiers, military vehicles, and other protective gear.

The study appears in a recent issue of Nature Materials.

via: MIT

Innovative Bike Has Parents Riding High

Active parents love convenient outdoor gadgets, and thanks to Zigo, you can stay fit while hanging out with your little ones at the same time.

We’ve all seen those flimsy bike trailers, with toddlers swaying precariously back and forth on open trails or busy street sidewalks. While some parents hold their breath and hope the safety ratings are accurate, others are investing in a Zigo with its four different traveling modes.

Active Exercise With Your Favorite Riding CompanionActive Exercise With Your Favorite Riding Companion

Taking its cue from the traditional bike trailer, Zigo allows you to attach your child’s riding compartment onto the front of your bike, allowing you the chance to see how safe your child is riding. You can also use the compartment (known as a “child pod) on its own as either a standard or jogging stroller. Lastly, a 4th mode allows you to use the bike independently, for when you just need a little time for yourself away from the kids.

Modern Travel With Little OnesModern Travel With Little Ones

Available on both their official website and through various cycling shops through the U.S., Zigo continues to impress parents all over the nation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

MySpace To Venture Into The World Of Shared Logins

Website accounts can be a pain. Sometimes it’s incredibly annoying and hard to remember different email addresses, usernames and a variety of passwords. So to deal to with this common problem, MySpace is looking to join others in coming up with a solution.

Source: HowStuffWorks

The popular social network has decided hold hands with other Internet services and will join a coalition that allows people to use the same login information. The OpenID group will include web organizations like AOL, Google’s Blogger, Yahoo and other blogging services such as LiveJournal and WordPress.

The main idea around the OpenID concept is users can use one particular login while on any of the supporting websites. With popular groups like Yahoo and LiveJournal, the coalition should definitely be a hit because most of the sites share a lot of users already.

For those wondering where Facebook is in the “login revolution”, the answer is simple: the second most popular social network doesn’t like sharing. Facebook has always favoured developing its own systems and will most likely not join the OpenID group.

It will be interesting to see where OpenID takes users in the future. It’s bound to be a success, but if websites start to abandon ship, then the whole idea will sink. But at least MySpace users and the like will be able to enjoy some time using one simple login instead of numerous variations.

Wonderfully Wacky Toy Art

Gun DogGun Dog

What can you do with those old used up toys that your children used to play with, but are now collecting dust in the corner of your attic? Artist Robert Bradford makes good use of them and creates sculptures out of these toys.

Space Face (Her)Space Face (Her)

Kalashnikov BrianKalashnikov Brian

I asked Robert how he got started in doing this: "For a long time I had always liked to use materials that were not bland i.e. had some kind of history of weathering or use. One day about five years out in the studio I was looking into my children’s box of outgrown / discarded toys which happened to be out in the same building and responded to the random collection of colours shapes and forms they made. I figured that if I could find a way of putting them together to constitute a larger form they would have great potential as a larger scale sculpture. Over the next few years I experimented with various construction methods (which all had their downsides) - before one day about a year ago in frustration I tried putting a screw through a toy and then many others. To my surprise most didn’t crack or shatter and the new series has been largely based around and developed from that fact."

Toy SoldierToy Soldier

Toy Child TrafalgarToy Child Trafalgar

I was also curious as to the type of reaction he recieves from the public when they view his work. Here’s what he had to say: “Public reaction is largely very positive (in some cases gleeful)- in some cases children drag their parents to come and look at the pieces and then a whole sequence of recognition and recollection usually begins, naming the various toys and recalling the times and circumstances of their use. There is usually some fascination, both with them and with the process of their construction and sometimes outright laughter. There is usually a whole process of going back and forth between looking at the sculptures as a totality and the individual parts they are made up from (which of course is my intention). Some people of course just say they are rubbish which of course is perfectly true! There is also often talk about consumerism and waste, which whilst not being my central concern is also in my view positive when it occurs. Some find the sculptures beautiful/ curious/ scary/ weird/ emotional and etc. (which considering all they are really is bits of what is usually seen as rubbish) is great."

Mini DogMini Dog

"In a way the sculptures are also history pieces in the sense that you could date any one of them roughly from the time that the last toy screwed on to the structure that was produced.”

Fairly Fierce and Fiercer WolvesFairly Fierce and Fiercer Wolves


Toy Child Trafalgar DoorToy Child Trafalgar Door

Toy Girl Outside TrafalgarToy Girl Outside Trafalgar

Trafalgar Hotel April 08Trafalgar Hotel April 08

I don’t think they’re rubbish, these are actually pretty cool. I’d love to have a backyard filled with every one of these sculptures. But I’m sure my neighbors would think I’m weird; a 30-year old woman with toy sculptures in her yard. Oh well, I’ve done worse.

Many thanks to Robert Bradford. You can view more of his amazing art at his website.

Shirt Lets You Blow Away The Heat And Your Co-workers

Sitting in a stuffy office with sweaty armpits is no fun, but there’s really nothing you can in the summer, right? Wrong; there’s actually a new innovation from Japan that’s bound to make your daily environment cooler.

Source: Like Cool

To make those hot summer days cooler, the USB Air Conditioned Shirt combines the power of fans and the stylish look of dress shirts. At first, the shirt may seem like any other, but if you take a closer look you will notice the two 10cm USB-powered fans. Located at the left and right sides on the back of your waist, the fans add some poof to shirt and cool you down with a gentle breeze.

Source: New Launches

Using USB technology is a great idea for an invention like this because a lot of people work with computers, so it’s not like they have to use a battery device that’s complex. One downside to the shirt could be that some people don’t like the “poofy feeling”. But when you’re hot and sweaty and you need to cool down, I’m sure anyone can put up with a small annoyance.

Find out more about the USB Air Conditioned Shirt here.

Bone Density May Help Determine Risk of Breast Cancer

A woman’s bone mineral density may be helpful in determining the risk of breast cancer, a new study finds.

The research for this study suggests that a physician is better able to determine a woman’s risk for breast cancer by running bone mineral density tests. This type of testing is currently done to diagnose osteoporosis and also to determine the risk of fractures. Studies currently being done have shown that higher bone mineral density can also lead to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This study is the first of its kind that links bone density and breast cancer incidences among postmenopausal women.

To conduct this study, researchers assessed approximately 10,000 postmenopausal women by measuring their bone density levels and also their score on the Gail risk model, which is a commonly used tool estimating five year and lifetime risk of invasive breast cancer. The women were then followed for 8 years and researchers noted which ones developed breast cancer.

The study found that women scoring highly on the Gail risk model had a 35 percent increased chance of developing breast cancer. Women that scored highly on both tests had a much higher risk in breast cancer.

Researchers found that adding bone mineral density to current assessment tests may greatly improve the prediction of breast cancer risk.

This study is published in the September 2008 issue of CANCER, which is a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Ten Even More Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks

What is it with Japan and weird drinks? Part of the answer lies in the love Japanese have for soft drinks – surveys show that about 40% of the nation's citizens drink at least one soft drink every day. That's about 50 million people!

In addition, trends come and go very quickly in Japan. What's cool today is as flat as warm Pepsi Ice Cucumber tomorrow... so soft drink companies are constantly coming out with something new and (hopefully) attention-grabbing 'cause one success more than makes up for dozens of failures.

Our list comprises the bad, the even more bad and the downright ugly, and we'll lead off the same way last year's list did – with Pepsi Japan's latest weird summer soft drink!

10) Pepsi Blue Hawaii

Wasn't there already a blue Pepsi, called umm, er, oh yeah - Pepsi Blue? It faded from the scene fairly quickly; a fate certain to be shared by Pepsi Blue Hawaii. Flavored with Pineapple and Lemon, you just know PBH is going to be sweeter than Hello Kitty in insulin shock – actually, it would probably be her IV drip.

9) Fanta Furufuru Shaker

Ever made Jello using 7-Up or Grape Crush instead of cold water? The gelatin retains a little carbonation after it cools. Fanta's Furufuru Shaker seems to be designed on the same principle; a semi-gelled drink that gets fizzy when you shake it. I don't know how you drink it... you'd need a fairly wide straw, if not a spoon. (via Japan Marketing News)

Anyway, all weirdness aside, the most interesting thing about Fanta Furufuru Shaker is the so-called Shaker Dance performed by official Fanta spokesmodel Rika Ishikawa. That girl can really shake her cans... can... erm, just watch the video...

8) Melon Milk

I've actually had Pokka's Melon Milk; both it and a Strawberry Milk version are sold in smallish cans at some Asian markets here in Toronto. It's rather popular in Japan, as are the many varieties of canned coffee Pokka makes.

Melon Milk doesn't taste bad... it does taste kinda strange though. Sort of like milk, with a melony overtone. You sip some, think “that can't be right”, then sip a little more. Before you know it you've drained the whole can – all part of Pokka's dastardly plan, no doubt. Melon is actually a major fruit flavor in Japan. If it's green & fruity, there's probably a melon involved. Consider yourself warned.

7) Bilk

Bilk... according to my dictionary, it means “to cheat out of something valuable”. It also makes a terrible name for a new drink – unless that drink is an unholy marriage of milk and beer, in which case it's entirely appropriate. Besides, Japanese dairy farmers are pretty much swimming in surplus milk and if Bilk doesn't work out they could resort to something truly awful, like a cheese drink (shudder).

Bilk... 70% beer, 30% milk, 100% disgusting. Supposedly, Bilk possesses a subtle sweetness that women should find most appealing. Beer bellies, belches and lactose intolerance, not so much. Bilk can be bought at 6 outlets in Japan's northern province of Hokkaido where bears outnumber humans 2:1. Guess they like the stuff, for their pic-a-nic baskets and all. (via Japan Probe)

6) NEEDS Cheese Drink

Well, you balked at Bilk so now it's come to this: NEEDS Cheese Drink. Nuh-uh, that's where I draw the line. I prefer to enjoy my cheese in the solid state, thank you, where I can shave off a paper-thin slice with that fiendish cheese-shaving knife. NEEDS Cheese Drink, I don't needs.

In fact, it seems the only ones who DO needs NEEDS are those pesky dairy farmers in Hokkaido, who “needs” to do something about growing stocks of surplus milk. If only there was something, sort of like a baby but still a cow, who could drink the surplus milk... ah well, never mind. (via F*cked Gaijin)

5) Hawaiian Deep-Sea Water

Remember those old movies, when a few shipwreck survivors are stuck in a lifeboat, dying of thirst? And one guy can't stand it anymore and starts drinking seawater, which drives him INSANE??

Koyo USA Corp wants you to forget all that. The maker of MaHaLo brand “Hawaiian Deep-Sea Water” is making a killing on desalinated deep ocean water thirst-crazed Japanese are falling all over themselves to buy... at between $4 and $6 per 1.5 liter bottle, no less.

Koyo USA Corp produces 200,000 bottles of processed seawater a day and can barely keep up with demand in Japan. According to company spokesman John Frosted, “At this point, we can't make enough. We have no surplus.”

Thank goodness for that, because the thought of seawater beer or seawater cheese drink would drive ME insane!

4) Kid's Wine

Kid's Wine – not just a road trip complaint anymore! Kid's Beer topped our list last time around, but did you know the same company, Sangaria, makes “wine” specially made for children? They also make their website play the cheesiest, most annoying music ever heard online. Maybe you have to be drunk on Kid's Wine to truly appreciate it.

3) Placenta Drink

From Kid's Wine to Kid Swine... Ahh, the things women will do to stay young and beautiful for us!

Thank you ladies, really... but there comes a point where bizarre beauty potions intended to make you luscious, just make us nauseous – and Nihon Shokuten's eerie series of placenta products are a prime example.

Made with swine placenta, the drink carries the automotive-sounding name of "Placenta 400000" - perhaps it's made from the ground & pressed extract of 400,000 placentas? Nihon Shokuten's not telling, but their revolting beverage should come pre-packaged with mints because there's nothing worse than placenta-breath in the morning.

2) Eel Soda

Unagi-Nobori soda is no ordinary energy drink, oh no... this terrific tonic is infused with a generous helping of eel extract. If you think there's something fishy about that, you're unfortunately right.

According to Japanese folk tradition, eating eel is reputed to give one extra energy on summer's hottest, most humid days.

These days though, one doesn't always have time for a leisurely lunch of delicious barbecued eel.

No problem – Unagi Nobori bottles essence of eel along with 5 essential vitamins in a carbonated medium. Make my medium small, if you don't mind... and by the way, Unagi Nobori is brought to you by the nice folks at Japan Tobacco, known for "healthy" products with smoky flavors. (via Japan Marketing News)

1) Okkikunare Drinks

Okkikunare is Japanese for “make them bigger”, and do I really have to tell you what “them” refers to? Well, maybe I do - lest guys with macho issues rush to place orders, the apple, peach and mango flavored drinks are quite popular among teenage girls in Japan.

Made by a comapny called Welcia, the special bust-boosting ingredient in Okkikunare drinks is powdered Arrowroot containing the same sort of isoflavones found in soybeans, which are said to “stimulate the female hormone system.”

Seems a little sketchy to me... then again, the drinks are also sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity. Therefore, EVERYTHING gets bigger the more you drink, not just the, umm, apples, peaches and mangos. (via DumpSoda)

And there you have it, Ten Even More Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks. And, in case you were wondering, no Pocari Sweat again this time. Not even the doggie version, “Pet Sweat”. Odd as it sounds, Japan can do much better... or worse, as the case may be.

So, consider yourself warned, Japan can pack a few surprises for the unwary, thirsty traveler. Be sure to pack some Canned Bottled Water on your next trip there – it's lighter than the Bottled Canned Water and likely has even fewer calories!

Check out last year's list here.

Tiny Microscope Fits on Your Fingertip

Researchers have developed a "microscopic microscope" - a microscope that's small enough to fit inside a cell phone yet that still delivers top-quality magnifying power.

Optofluidic microscope. .Image: Changhuei Yang, California Institute of TechnologyOptofluidic microscope. .Image: Changhuei Yang, California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology team hopes that the tiny microscope could be appealing for detecting pathogens in developing countries, as well as for being implanted in the human body as a diagnostic tool.

The device is a type of optofluidic microscope because it combines computer-chip technology with microfluidics technology, where a fluid flow is channeled at very small scales. The microscope has no lenses or other bulky optical elements, which have been a staple of microscopes ever since the first ones appeared in the 1500s. Without lenses, microscopes can be much cheaper: the researchers expect their tool can be mass-produced for about $10.

The microscope design consists of three layers: a microfluidic channel on top, then a metal coating, and then a CCD sensor, which is similar to the sensors used in digital cameras. The metal layer has lots of tiny holes (one-millionth of a meter in diameter) that correspond to the pixels on the CCD array. The microfluidic channel carries the liquid sample, such as blood or water, to be investigated.

To image the sample, the microscope is simply positioned in sunlight or another light source. As the liquid sample flows through the microfluidic channel, a few cells pass over the holes in the metal and block the sunlight from passing through to the CCD sensor below. As the researchers explain, these shadows produce images similar to those from a pinhole camera.

This imaging part of the microscope is actually much smaller than the chip it's mounted on, so that thousands of the microscopes could be incorporated onto a single chip the size of a quarter. This could allow many samples to be analyzed simultaneously, such as blood samples for malaria, water samples for giardia, and - when in vivo - the bloodstream for spreading cancer cells.

Changhuei Yang, a lead researcher, is currently discussing the possibility for mass-production with biotech companies.

The study is published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

via: California Institute of Technology

The Washing Machine That Uses Hardly Any Water

Companies are constantly trying to outdo each other in the world of laundry, but one new invention just might eliminate the competition.

Source: Shiny Shiny

Instead of using water alone, the Xeros washing machine uses a new formula: plastic chips, friction and solvent. Confused? Don’t be; the machine is simple to understand and use.

Basically an individual starts a normal load of laundry and a cartridge in the back of the machine drops in the plastic chips to mix with a cup of water and detergent. The water dissolves the stains and dirt, which is then absorbed by the chips. Once the load is near the end of the cycle, a grill at the bottom of the washing machine opens up, collects the plastic and leaves you clothes that are almost dry.

Since tests have already shown that the machine can get rid of all kinds of stains, the product is sure to be a success once it hits the UK market in 2009. The only concern about the innovation is whether or not the plastic chips themselves are environment-friendly. But seeing so many companies are trying to please the environmentalists these days, the plastic chips are probably going to be safe in some sort of way.

To find out more, you can visit the following website.

Cool Invention: So busy that you wish you had another hand?

The people at Spot Industries have taken this concept quite literally with an articulated robotic human-like hand and forearm assembly appropriately named "Handy". The heavy industrial giant's first foray into the consumer market was actually precipitated by a proprietary battery technology and the availability of high strength, cheap to produce and 100% recyclable polymers that could actually bring concepts such as Handy into the reach of a much broader consumer market.

Spot Industries spokesperson So Soon Dun states "Handy could be useful for any number of domestic tasks such as washing, hammering, painting, digging, kneading, the only limit is your imagination." He went on to mention that "Handy has a very, very firm but soft grip and its ability to oscillate up and down at select speeds is quite satisfying."

The first model of the Handy is being planned for initial release into the marketplace sometime in the next two years. The Handy is very lightweight at less than 7 Kg. It can be folded down to fit in a typical briefcase. So Soon Dun tells us that the first version will be the "tabletop model" which could easily fit on any side table, desk or workbench. Future editions may come with freestanding legs, wheels or possibly even a harness to allow for greater user mobility and ease of use.

Handy will come with USB and midi ports and be wireless capable for use with ipods, keyboards and computers. Handy's fuzzy AI logic will allow it to learn its owners preferences very efficiently. So Soon Dun reminds us that whether a robotic device builds cars or waters your plants - the job should be done right.

We concur, hands free never had it so good.

Rod Bland

Our Guest Blogger, Rod Bland, is an aspiring inventor and has worked as a visual effects artist and animator for the past 15 years in the television, movie & advertising industries.

Should Shivaraj Patil resign?

An astonishing aspect of the current political atmosphere is the complete lack of accountability—or demands for it. Heads are demanded and heads roll when a politician is caught in some minor sexual peccadillo, in a sting operation, or a corruption scandal. But the slaughter of scores of hard-working Indians in City after City across the nation, and the burgeoning fear “psychosis” that threatens to rip the country asunder, barely evokes a squeak either from the media or from the opposition.

Shivaraj Patil is a standout case. Rejected by the voters of Latur in the 2004 elections but resurrected by the Congress in one of those actions that beggars belief, Patil’s performance as Union home minister has been dull, lack-lustre and insipid. Not only has Patil presided over blast after serial blast, he has seemed as clueless as everybody else. Even the Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, whom he personally credits for helping him preside over an unruly Lok Sabha as Speaker, seems to be in no position to provide help at this critical juncture.

Question: Should the man who has helplessly watched the Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bombay, Hyderabad, Jaipur blasts and countless other incidents resign? And if the Congress high command is unwilling, should the “new, improved” Manmohan throw him out to show Singh is King after the trust-vote?

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw - A legend in uniform

One of my adulthood heros... u can see some of his speeches in youtube. And also in the videos of the IMA cadet ceremony... shame on our politicians that they haven't recognized this brave-hearts death.
An article in frontline by C. UDAY BHASKAR

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw led India to its greatest military victory, in the 1971 war.


Taking the salute at a military parade in New Delhi on October 23, 2004, held to mark the first-ever conclave of former military chiefs.

INDIA’S first Field Marshal, Sam Bahadur Manekshaw, who succumbed to pneumonia on June 26, two months after his 94th birthday, will remain a legendary figure in the annals of Indian military history. He was given a befitting farewell by millions of Indians – though the Indian state was parsimonious in its presence – when he was laid to rest in the Nilgiri Hills where he spent the latter part of his glorious life.

Manekshaw was born in Amritsar in 1914, and his army career began in 1932 when he joined the first batch of the Indian Gentlemen Cadets at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Commissioned in the Frontier Force in 1934, he saw action in the Second World War where he displayed exemplary courage in battle in the Burma (Myanmar) theatre. He was awarded a Military Cross (MC) by a British general who thought that the young Manekshaw would not survive the bullet wounds he had sustained. The MC cannot be awarded posthumously, so Major General D.T. Cowan pinned his own medal on the gallant Indian Captain. But fortune favoured the brave Manekshaw.

An Australian surgeon who was tending to the wounded was debating whether Manekshaw could be saved. What convinced the doctor in favour of operating on the seriously wounded Manekshaw was the latter’s puckish sense of humour even as he lay dying. When asked what had happened to him, Manekshaw said: “A mule kicked me.”

Post-Partition, in August 1947, Manekshaw as a Parsi had the option to join either the Indian Army or move to the newly created Pakistan Army. He chose India and was transferred to the Gorkha Rifles where he earned the sobriquet “Bahadur”. Closely associated with the consolidation of the Indian state under the firm hand of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose confidence he enjoyed, Manekshaw was a key planner in the October 1947 Kashmir operations where the Indian Army was called out.

In the years that followed, Manekshaw was witness to the Nehruvian idealism that sought to shrink the size and relevance of the Indian military. However, he gradually acquired a reputation for being a totally apolitical yet professional soldier who could not be pushed around by the civilian establishment. The emerging politico-bureaucratic dispensation under a towering Prime Minister like Jawaharlal Nehru weakened India’s military sinews through an insidious mix of ignorance of matters military and strategic and outright disdain for sound professionalism that went against the Nehruvian diktat.

Manekshaw’s professional life reflected this pernicious culture. Nehru’s Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon tried to belittle the higher ranks of the Indian Army. The result was that truly professional and apolitical soldiers such as Gen. K.S. Thimayya and Gen. Manekshaw were treated shabbily and their advice spurned. The country paid a heavy price for this – the 1962 war with China was testimony to this crass political ineptitude. Such was the bitter vendetta carried out by Krishna Menon that he initiated a court of inquiry against Manekshaw for “anti-national” activities in early 1962 on totally false charges and sought – unsuccessfully – to penalise him.

However, the debacle of 1962 forced Nehru to acknowledge the folly of this political interference in internal military affairs and he belatedly resurrected officers like Manekshaw. Ironically, Manekshaw was sent to take over from Lt. Gen. B.M. Kaul – a Krishna Menon favourite – 4 Corps in the Eastern Sector, which had been mauled by the Chinese Army. This is where he issued the first of his many flamboyant one-liners: “There will be no more withdrawals.”

Luck, as always, was on his side and the Chinese announced a cessation of hostilities and withdrew. He became the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Army and then of the Eastern Army in Calcutta (Kolkata), and was elevated to the post of Army chief in 1969. Sam Bahadur, by dint of personal example and sound professionalism, rebuilt the Indian Army.

The clouds of war with Pakistan were looming in early 1971 over the repression and genocide in East Pakistan. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted the Indian Army to enter the fray so that a popularly elected government could be installed in Dhaka. However, Manekshaw refused to be pushed into hasty action and he gave the Prime Minister very objective advice – much to her surprise. Years later, he recalled how angry Indira Gandhi was at his dissenting view initially. But she respected his professional appreciation and concurred with his planning and execution of the 1971 war.

In keeping with his strong commitment to the democratic ethos and the provisions of the Indian Constitution, Manekshaw, who had the highest respect for civilian political supremacy over the military, offered to resign voluntarily in the event the Prime Minister did not approve of his dissent. To Indira Gandhi’s credit, she took Manekshaw’s advice, reposed confidence in him and entrusted him with full responsibility of the actual conduct of the war with no political interference.

The 1971 war with Pakistan was an outstanding military success. India managed to do what no country had done since the Second World War – achieve a decisive military victory over an adversary and dismember that country. Regrettably, there was inadequate appreciation of the politico-military harmonisation of “victory”, and Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto seemed to emerge the political equal of Indira Gandhi at Shimla despite the military defeat. Few people in the Indian political and higher bureaucracy seemed to know about war termination objectives and how a military victory could be translated into an abiding political advantage.

In retrospect, it would appear that the Indian military was neither encouraged nor allowed to contribute to higher politico-military strategic planning and thereby the nation was not able to maximise the victory over the Pakistan Army.

Thus we have a paradox in that, while the Pakistan Army had subsumed the state and became the central actor in the hostile relationship with India, the Indian military was kept outside the national decision-making framework. To compound the damage, the ruling politico-bureaucratic culture sustained this distancing and denigration of the Indian fauj (soldier). Manekshaw became the symbol of both public adulation and private anxiety – both in his life and death.

Soon after the December 1971 victory and the birth of Bangladesh, Indira became India – a veritable Durga who had slain the wicked demon, an accolade that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then a young Opposition parliamentarian, generously paid his political opponent. India and Indira, who were both going through a period of post-1962/post-Nehru despondency and lack of esteem, found their confidence after this victory.

This achievement of the nation and its Prime Minister was enabled to a great extent by Manekshaw and his service peers – and nobody realised this more keenly than Indira Gandhi. In Pakistan, the people were baying for the blood of their disgraced generals, while in India, their counterparts, Sam Manekshaw and Jagjit Singh Arora (the commander of the Indian forces in the east), were being publicly feted.

In 1973, Manekshaw was elevated to the rank of Field Marshal and his public profile was unparalleled for any Indian fauji. Then occurred one of those historic accidents – triggered by Manekshaw’s spontaneous sense of humour and repartee. Responding to a question about what would have happened if he, as a Parsee, had opted to join the Pakistan Army in August 1947, he joked that maybe Pakistan would have won the 1971 war. That was to be a costly quip and the Field Marshal was publicly upbraided by many who were envious of his growing stature.

The Indian state had found its opportunity to cut the soldier to size and cast him in a poor light. Manekshaw stepped down as Army chief in early 1973 and retired gracefully from the limelight – which he no doubt revelled in but had never actively sought.

An anecdote is illustrative. Post-retirement, Sam Bahadur went to Indore where the local citizens organised a public reception. The Field Marshal was mobbed by crowds shouting “Manekshaw ki jai”, and he reached the podium with difficulty.

The keynote speaker made an adulatory speech in Hindi, which went on thus: “We have in our midst today a soldier whose very name is synonymous with valour. He makes us remember Rana Pratap, Jhansi ki Rani and the gallant Shivaji, whose deeds form our national heritage. When we hear him speak, blood courses through our veins with great speed….”

Manekshaw also made his speech in Hindi, quipping: “I have only one request. Could I have an English translation of the speech I just heard? I want to give it to my wife. Whenever I tell her that I am a big man, a great man, she does not even listen. Perhaps after reading this, she will believe me!” Predictably, he brought the house down, and the ovation continued. Later, he was to joke that life had ordained that he obey two women all his life – his wife at home and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at work.

Flamboyant professional

Manekshaw was a flamboyant soldier who combined the best of the British tradition that he was groomed in and the distinctively Indian ethos that he was born into. Many tales abound about his special relationship with Indira Gandhi, including the “I am always ready, sweetie” response. To her credit, Indira Gandhi enjoyed this gentle sparring with an Army general who could tell her with a naughty twinkle in his eye, without transgressing certain lines of politico-military propriety, that she looked beautiful.

Manekshaw was neither a George Patton or an Erwin Rommel in the classical sense of the battlefield general, nor a theorist like Alfred Mahan. But he was a rigorous professional soldier and an outstanding manager of higher defence planning and prosecution. The politico-military-bureaucratic synergy he arrived at as Army chief with Indira Gandhi, Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram and Defence Secretary K.B. Lall during the 1971 operations remains distinctive and unparalleled.

As K. Subrahmanyam, the doyen of the strategic planning community, notes: “… the lesson from the Bangladesh campaign had not been drawn and absorbed by the Indian politicians. The lesson was the Prime Minister and the Cabinet should be in constant touch with external intelligence and should have a continuous rapport with the leadership of the armed forces. Our politicians and senior civil bureaucracy have woefully failed to learn this lesson to this day.”


WITH PRESIDENT V.V. Giri (second from left), Vice-President G.S. Pathak and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 2, 1973, when he was made Field Marshal.

Regrettably, Manekshaw never wrote an authoritative personal biography recounting this experience. I recall a conversation I had with him in 1986 when Gen. Cariappa was elevated as Field Marshal.

Like many of my generation, I was in awe of Manekshaw and ventured to ask him about the 1971 War. His reply was characteristically modest and he gave greater credit to the civilian leadership that was at the helm and encouraged me to highlight the role of the late K.B. Lall, “that extraordinary but forgotten ICS officer”.

Sad to say, post-1971, the Indian governing ethos progressively relegated the Indian military to the background. Ironically, in his death, Sam Bahadur, for all his monumental contribution to the making of India, was treated in a rather graceless manner by the Indian state. But this lack of magnanimity taints the state structure more than the glory of Sam Bahadur, which will remain shining and inviolable for a grateful nation.

The fact that despite being accorded a state funeral, no senior member of the Cabinet was present when his body was laid to rest, leave alone the President as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces or the Prime Minister or the Defence Minister, will remain a taint on the record of the United Progressive Alliance government. Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju was the sole senior political representative.

Ironically, the three Service chiefs were not present either. To add insult to injury, in keeping with the rule-bound mendacity of the Indian state, it was pointed out that since the rank of a Field Marshal was not (yet) included in the Government of India’s warrant of precedence, the great Indian state edifice was unable to respond.

It mattered little that Manekshaw had been elevated as Field Marshal – a five-star rank in 1973 – and that Field Marshals never retire. But for some inexplicable reason, for 35 years the appropriate rules and regulations were not formulated. The government departments concerned and Army headquarters have besmirched themselves indelibly in the public eye and many Indians have pointed out in letters to editors of newspapers and in cyberspace that our highest political representatives found the time and motivation to attend the funerals of less illustrious fellow Indians.

But if Manekshaw was treated shabbily by the political spectrum, he was always held in high esteem and remembered with enormous affection by the Indian fauj. News of his death led to a spontaneous outpouring of tributes and accolades both from within the country and from neighbouring Bangladesh, a nation that he helped create. Perhaps the manner of his final march into history symbolises what he represented to India and its people.

Amends were made with a condolence book being placed at India Gate in New Delhi for the Delhi hierarchy and public to pay their tributes to the Field Marshal. Rarely has there been such a turnout.

Manekshaw’s greatest and most abiding contribution was the manner in which he restored the muddied pride of the Indian soldier after the ignominy of the 1962 war with China.

Maybe Manekshaw’s handicap was that he was too much of a “bahadur” while the military as an institution remained marginal to the Indian political scheme of things.


The last journey, at Wellington, Udhagamangalam, Tamil Nadu, on June 27.

This visibly disdainful attitude to the Indian soldier was nurtured by Nehru as Prime Minister and bolstered by the civilian bureaucracy of his time, which always spoke in whispers about the danger of a military coup – as had happened in Pakistan and Myanmar – in the event the higher military leadership was given its due and brought into the loop of higher governance and security planning.

More than 60 years after Independence, the political dispensation in India is yet to maximise the many potentialities that a truly apolitical and professional military can bring to the national quiver. Sam Manekshaw remains the exception. Field Marshals never retire but only die, but this legendary figure will not die in public memory.

The image of an upright and highly professional soldier with that jaunty Gorkha cap and a twinkle in his eye, who did his nation proud, will abide.

Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar is a former head of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rascal Flatts - My favourites

Biography of my favourite band - The Rascal Flatts..... Visit these links to hear them more..

Gary Levox, Jay DeMarcus, Jo Don Rooney

Five studio albums into their incredible career, the members of Rascal Flatts find themselves firmly atop the music world. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney have scaled unbelievable heights in the eight years since their debut, and yet with the release of Still Feels Good, they find their fortunes still rising. For proof, they need to look no further than the CD's first #1 single, "Take Me There," their fastest-rising ever.

Song by song, concert by concert, they continue to add to their stature. They were, for starters, the top-selling artist of 2006--in all genres of music. They scanned five million units, meaning that 1 of every 14 country CDs sold last year was a Rascal Flatts record. Their last CD, Me And My Gang, sold more than 721,000 copies in its first week and went on to sell four million copies, leading the band to become the top-selling artist in all of music, the first time in 15 years a country artist achieved that milestone. Their “Still Feels Good Tour” wrapped in early 2008 as the best selling country tour for the first quarter of the year. Rascal Flatts has also become one of the most consistently awarded acts in history, with their 2008 ACM Vocal Group of the Year award, their sixth, tying them with all-time super-group Alabama for most consecutive wins in that category.

The trio has long been accustomed to working with the best songwriters in the genre, and Still Feels Good is no exception. Jeffrey Steele, Neil Thrasher, Wendell Mobley, Hillary Lindsey and Tony Martin all contributed songs, and "Take Me There" boasts the ultimate in superstar writers--Kenny Chesney, who co-wrote the out-of-the-box smash with Thrasher and Mobley.

"That's a very special song," says Joe Don. "We knew it when we heard the demo, which we got at the 11th hour. It's just a great sentiment that speaks to the women big time. It shows the power of a great song."

Beyond the opening single, the album contains yet another measure of the talent and versatility Gary, Jay and Joe Don bring to their art. Still Feels Good reflects their biggest contribution as songwriters to any of their CDs. Jay teamed with Thrasher and Mobley for "No Reins," an exhilarating look at a woman embracing her freedom, and Gary worked with the same duo to write the title cut, a celebration of lasting love, and with Thrasher and Michael Dulaney for "Bob That Head," a bit of power country about the joys of riding around town in a tricked-out truck with a great sound system. All three teamed up on "Winner At A Losing Game," which brings lustrous harmonies on loss and heartache, and "She Goes All The Way," a bit of aural sensuality written with Monty Powell and featuring the first-ever Rascal Flatts duet, with Gary trading lead vocals with his longtime friend Jamie Foxx.
"It was an easy song to write once we had the first few lines," says Jay, "and it's a really wonderful thing to have Jamie join us on the record. We run into him at awards shows and he always tells us how much he enjoys the music and how proud he is of Gary. We sent the song to him early this year and he said he'd love to do it."

"He said he'd do it if we sing on one of his records," adds Gary with a laugh, "so it's a pretty good swap! He's an incredible talent and he came to Nashville just after finishing his comedy tour to work with us on it."

Throughout the project, the harmonies are rich and scintillating, and critics say Gary continues to bolster the case for himself as one of popular music's most technically proficient and emotionally moving vocalists.

"I think lyrically this is the strongest album we've ever done," says Gary. "It's genuinely taken us to the next level. I think that in working with [producer] Dann Huff, the four of us have really got something special when it comes to capturing on CD what we do live. It perfectly captures the way we've grown as songwriters, as musicians and as people, and it's the proudest I've ever been of a project."

The relationship between the group and Huff, who produced Me and My Gang and has also worked with Faith Hill and Keith Urban among others, has quickly grown into one of Nashville's most inspired.

"We learned how to work with Dann last time," says Jay, "and because we had that foundation established, we were able to do even better things with him and he was able to pull even more out of us. I honestly think this is the best music Rascal Flatts has made."

Together, they are crafting music that is as exhilarating as it is distinctive, with impeccably soaring harmonies and feel-good grooves. Though they deal with the gamut of human emotion, the cumulative feel of a Rascal Flatts record is life-affirming, and fans by the millions have responded positively and passionately.

The Rascal Flatts love affair with those fans began with "Praying For Daylight," the first single from their double platinum self-titled debut album, released in 2000. It was the first of four hits from the CD, and the fourth, "I'm Movin' On," would establish the group's ability to combine song and performance in a way that defines a moment and moves past hit to standard. It was a process they would repeat with "Bless The Broken Road," "What Hurts The Most" and "My Wish" as they came to define a new generation of country fans. With each new album came new milestones. The now triple-platinum I Melt came as they won the CMA Horizon Award and led to nods as both the ACM's and CMA's Vocal Group of the Year. Feels Like Today, released in 2004, debuted at #1 in both pop and country and has sold 5 million copies. It spawned the #2 tour of 2005, with 750,000 fans in 70 cities, and led to a host of awards and honors, including Grammys for Country Song of the Year ("Bless The Broken Road") and Vocal Performance. It also marked their emergence both as co-producers and as bona fide superstars. Along the way, they have released nine #1 songs and 17 Top 10 hits and sold 17 million albums.

With Me And My Gang and now Still Feels Good, they take another step in an epic journey that began near Columbus, Ohio. Gary and Jay were second cousins from a musical family, long on both dreams and talent. Jay took his voice and instrumental skills (he plays guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin, and others) to Nashville in 1992, earning his first record deal as part of a Christian group called East to West. In 1997, he finally convinced a reluctant Gary to leave behind his job with the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and follow his musical dreams as well.

Jay landed a gig in Chely Wright's band, and there he met Joe Don, who had nurtured his own dreams and talent in tiny Picher, Oklahoma. Jay and Gary were working in a Printer's Alley nightclub, and when their part-time guitarist couldn't make it one night, Jay invited Joe Don to sit in. A few bars into the first song, they knew they had something special. They recorded some demos, which caught the favorable attention of Lyric Street Senior VP of A&R Doug Howard and led to musical history.

Through the years since, they have played the Opry, appeared on the soundtrack of CARS by recording the song “Life Is A Highway,” which became one of 2006’s most digitally downloaded tunes and also a multi-award nominated song. Most recently, they did a fiery cover of the Beatles' "Revolution" for the Evan Almighty soundtrack. All have settled into happy married life--Gary has two daughters, Brittany, 7, and Brooklyn, 3--and all are committed to sharing their good fortune. To cite just one charity, they have donated $2.2 million to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

They remain in awe of the success they have earned through the years.

"We dreamed some big dreams," says Joe Don. "We were looking for the rocket ride. But I don't think we ever dreamed the things that have happened to us. Everybody in the industry sees the same charts and sales figures every week, and for us to see our names at the top of those lists gives you a whole different perspective. It's gratifying and it's humbling."

"We just want to make the best music we can," adds Jay, "and I think we've been surprised ourselves with how much the fans have loved what we've done. It's incredible how much we've been blessed."

For Gary, the bottom line is consistent and easy to understand. "We've worked really hard from day one," he says, "and we know who employs us. It's the fans, and we've tried to give back to them musically what they've given us. We love them like they love us."

Getting Access to Gmail Accounts of the Deceased

Came across this information. We may need this in future.. incase...

When a person passes away, sensitive information might reside on a Gmail account. How can a family get access to this information if necessary? This question is raised in a Google Groups thread.

According to Gmail Guide, the following steps need to be provided to Google in order to obtain access to the Gmail account:

1. Your full name and contact information, including a verifiable email address.
2. The Gmail address of the individual who passed away.
3a. The full header from an email message that you have received at your verifiable email address, from the Gmail account in question. (To obtain the header from a message in Gmail, open the message, click 'More options,' then click 'Show original.' Copy everything from 'Delivered- To:' through the 'References:' line. To obtain headers from other webmail or email providers, please refer to
3b. The entire contents of the message.
4. A copy of the death certificate of the deceased.
5. A copy of the document that gives you Power of Attorney over the Gmail account.
6. If you are the parent of the individual, please send us a copy of the Birth Certificate if the Gmail account owner was under the age of 18. In this case, Power of Attorney is not required.
Gmail Guide requests that you send this information via Fax or Postal Mail:

Google Inc.
Attention: Gmail User Support
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

It takes approximately 30 days for the information to be processed, but if the access is needed sooner, "it is Google's policy to only provide information pursuant to a valid third party court order or other appropriate legal process."

Discussion continues at Google Groups.

Why oil is at US$130

Posted by NP Editor - By John E. Lowe

One of the primary drivers of higher global oil prices over the last five years has been a sustained period of robust global economic growth, which led to stronger than expected energy demand growth.

A second reason for high global crude oil prices is constraints on expanding conventional supplies. The biggest constraint is rising resource nationalism that limits access to resources for development. In the 1960s, 85% of global oil and natural gas reserves were available for direct development by international oil companies, versus only 7% today. In addition, rising competition for access to the relatively limited resources that are open for development has enabled host governments to dictate fiscal terms that are so onerous that publically trade oil companies cannot economically pursue them. Increased taxes are a part of the change in the fiscal terms. Morgan Stanley estimates that the exploration and production tax rates of major oil companies have increased from about 30% to 45% since 2000. In some cases, governments change fiscal terms after investments have been made or increase taxes on existing production, even in mature producing areas in otherwise stable countries (Alaska in the United States and the United Kingdom). Such actions can make it uneconomic to invest the capital required to slow decline rates in existing fields. Increases in tax rates and other forms of government take are particularly problematic due to the maturity of oil provinces in areas such as the United States, the North Sea and Western Siberia and the increasing amount of capital required to offset the rising decline rates.

Resource access is also very limited in the United States, where an estimated 40 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil are either completely off limits or subject to significant lease restrictions. Similar restrictions apply to more than 250 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas reserves.

Also pushing crude oil prices upward is the high geopolitical supply risk attributable to the world’s low level of excess oil production capacity and the fact that in several key oil-producing countries, political factors are constraining production. (E.g., Nigeria, Iraq, Venezuela and Iran.) The combination of strong demand growth and the need to offset lost production from these countries left the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) at year-end 2007 with only 2.5 million barrels a day of excess capacity, equal to just 3% of global oil demand. This contrasts sharply with the greater than 10 million barrels per day of excess capacity that existed in the mid q980s. This lack of spare capacity leaves world markets more vulnerable to oil supply disruptions caused by political events, storm damage to producing facilities, or unforeseen operational problems.

Within limits, OPEC could historically influence prices by adjusting its production to tighten or loosen the supply and demand balance. However, today the large amount of oil traded in futures exchanges (1.3 billion barrels per day) is 36 times greater than OPEC’s oil production of 36 million barrels per day. In addition, given OPEC’s small excess production capacity, its member nations have significantly less influence on the price of crude oil than they had in the past.

A final possible reason for recent increases in crude oil prices is the rising attractiveness of commodities to financial investors. Commodity index funds have been developed to provide investors with a financial vehicle to gain commodity price exposure. Investors have moved large amounts of capital into these funds in order to seek higher returns than are currently available through the stock and bond markets, to hedge the risk in their portfolios given the negative correlation between commodity prices and prices of stocks and bonds, or to hedge against inflation. Declines in U.S. interest rates or the value of the dollar stoke concerns about inflation, prompting an inflow of cash into these funds. According to Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Resources Associates, “oil has become the ‘new gold’ — a financial asset in which investors seek refuge as inflation rises and the dollar weakens.”

Excerpted from yesterday’s testimony by John E. Lowe, executive vice-president, exploration and prroduction, ConocoPhillips, at U.S. Senate hearings on “Exploring the Skyrocketing Cost of Oil.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shiver down IT spine - Chain blasts in Bangalore public places

I think this could only be a warning of what is yet to happen. There can be no control if anyone decides to do this however this can only be prevented with the help of the public. This is nothing new to India or any in any states for that matter. Mumbai rose past these hurdles time and again. But the resilience they had is tremendous. Will bangalore too rise up to the occassion and stand tall against the social culprits who did these sabotages only time will tell. Telegraph reports..

Bangalore, July 25: Eight low-intensity blasts occurring in quick succession shook Bangalore today, killing a woman and wounding seven persons in the first serial bombings in India’s IT capital.

Left near pavement edges, bus stops and roadside walls, seven small bombs went off between 1.30pm and 2.15pm and an eighth around 5.30.
The first of them killed Sudha Ravi at a bus stop and injured her husband and four others. Union home minister Shivraj Patil said in Delhi that a second person had died of his injuries but Bangalore police denied this.
Although no group has claimed responsibility, the police suspect the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), many of whose activists were arrested on terror charges in recent months.
Police commissioner Shankar Bidari said each bomb contained explosives equal to “one or two grenades”, was packed with nuts, bolts and nails, and appeared to have been set off by a timer.
The timing has left the police puzzled. “It was a non-peak hour when the blasts occurred,” Bidari said. Six of the blasts had no casualties.
The terror strike, the first in Bangalore after gunmen killed a professor at an Indian Institute of Science seminar in December 2005, left the city panicky. Several IT firms, schools, colleges and cinemas closed quickly as the news hopped from mobile to mobile, leaving phone lines jammed.
“I was on my way to office when we heard a noise,” Arun Daniel told a TV channel. “It sounded like a cracker. The traffic was blocked, everyone was running around. It was not a severe blast.”
Police found gelatin sticks, mainly used in quarry operations, at one of the blast sites. Bomb experts said gelatin sticks and a concoction of ammonium nitrate in fuel oil had been used to cause at least two of the explosions.
One of them was the blast that killed Sudha. The bomb had been placed among shrubs behind a bus stop at Madiwala on Hosur Road.
The only other blast that caused casualties was the seventh. At 2.15, Ravindran and Ganesh were waiting to cross Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road when a bomb went off at a garden where they stood surrounded by lush green plants.
Three other blasts occurred on Hosur Road while the remaining three took place on Mysore Road, including the evening explosion near the Gopalan Mall bus stop, where the damage was limited to a private wall and the gutter below it.

One bomb went off in a gutter near the R.V. Engineering College bus stop that teems with students after 2.30pm, when the college closes. There were no students when the blast took place just after 2pm.

The police had a tough time clearing crowds at the blast sites. “Go back, please, there could be more bombs,” policemen were heard politely telling the crowds till they lost their patience and used lathis.

“Push the crowd back, they are trampling on forensic evidence,” Bidari yelled at his men as sniffer dogs and forensic experts searched for clues.

Karnataka police have in recent months made several arrests and claimed to have foiled terror attacks on the state secretariat, Infosys campuses in Bangalore and Mysore, and Hubli airport. Two Pakistanis were picked up in Mysore, a Kashmiri handicraft seller in Hampi and several Simi activists in Hubli.

The police later busted a Simi hideout in Bangalore and arrested two members, including one who worked for an IT company.

Simi is accused of carrying out a minor blast at a city church in 2001. The same day, a van carrying explosives blew up, killing two Simi activists, police say.

Thorium and the Indian nuclear programme

siddharth varadarajan writes in his blog - Reality one bite at a time

In a recent article in Frontline, my colleague R. Ramachandran has drawn attention to the July 4, 2008 speech by Department of Atomic Energy chairman Anil Kakodkar at the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore as well as his Founder's Day address last October to suggest the atomic energy chief is diluting his earlier advocacy of thorium use in order to make a stronger case for the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.

Ramachandran ends his article directly questioning the motive for Kakodkar's arguments:

The juncture at which Kakodkar has chosen to make these remarks can only make one wonder whether the compulsions were political or technical. Thorium science and technology developed within the DAE itself would suggest the former. As [former head of the Indian fast breeder programme Placid] Rodriguez says, “The statement that thorium, which has all along been hailed as the panacea for our energy security and independence, is suddenly discovered to have nuclear properties that do not allow fast growth in power generation capacity, and giving this as an alibi for the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal is surprising, coming as it does from Kakodkar, who is identified in the public mind with India’s thorium utilisation efforts.”

Well, Kakodkar has hit back in today's Hindu in an interview to my colleague, T.S. Subramanian:

Subramanian: You are the father of thorium reactor technology in India. You said in Bangalore recently that if India could import 40,000 MWe of nuclear power between 2012 and 2020, we can wipe out the gap between the demand and the supply of power by 2050 – by building more fast breeder reactors using the spent fuel arising from these imported reactors. But you also said that thorium does not have properties that allow for faster growth of power generation. Media commentators have alleged that this amounts to India abandoning its third stage of building thorium-fuelled reactors.

Kakodkar: Right from the beginning all the way up to now, there is absolutely no contradiction between my statements on thorium utilisation strategies.

These are based on detailed analyses and they remain valid. [Dr. R.] Ramachandran’s article in Frontline (August 1, 2008) is either from a result of lack of understanding or misinterpretation. The three-stage nuclear power development programme based on domestic efforts remains a priority activity and would be implemented unhindered.

To optimise the benefits of thorium utilisation, the timing of the introduction of thorium has to be judiciously planned. In any case, it has to follow significant build-up of nuclear power generation capacity through deployment of fast breeder reactors. The point to realise is the fact that India’s electricity requirements are growing faster. The gap between electricity demand and supply that can be managed on indigenous resources is widening and it would exceed 400,000 MWe by 2050.

The question that one needs to address is how soon we can bridge this gap through the growth potential that is possible with fast reactors. Clearly, this necessitates emphasis on deployment of fast breeder reactors with the shortest possible doubling time. The timing of the introduction of thorium needs to be adjusted such that the demand-supply gap is bridged at the earliest and at the same time, we derive full benefit of the vast energy potential of our thorium resources for centuries to come.

The import of 40,000 MWe of power as an additionality [to the domestic nuclear power programme] bridges not only this gap by 2050 but it would avoid the necessity of import of much larger fossil energy resources and at the same time enable earlier deployment of thorium, meeting the objectives stated above.

The point is even after we pursue the domestic three-stage nuclear power programme, which we will pursue on a priority basis in any case, there will be a gap of 400,000 MWe. If we introduce thorium earlier, this gap will become larger and the three-stage programme will become smaller. On the other hand, if we can get this 40,000 MWe from outside [by importing reactors], we can bridge this gap, and at the same time, we can advance the deployment of thorium.

You can read the full interview here.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Book i wish to read - The Messiah Code - by Michael Cordy

Hope to read this... supposed to be an intriguing read on yet another conflict between science and religion . This time from a british author Michael Cordy (not dan brown). Ironically all of his 4 books were republished with new titles. this being The Miracle Strain might've got its inpiration from The Davinci Code (Of Dan Brown) The storyline of this book is below..

‘…imagine a world … with such an enormous population, that instead of a heaven on earth, we would create a living hell. No space. No food. No respect for life or death — and certainly not God. Just a crowded desert of lost souls assured of only one certainty — a long life of suffering.’

So believes Father Ezekiel, leader of an ancient brotherhood that prepares for the coming of the New Messiah. The sign that the Messiah has arrived has come. Meanwhile, Dr. Tom Carter, an atheist and a great genetic scientist, is racing against time to find a cure for his eight-year-old daughter’s brain cancer. Soon he realises that her only hope may lie in the blood of salvation shed over two thousand years ago. According to the brotherhood, Carter is the Devil’s agent, who seeks to play God by altering genetic components, and extending people’s lives.

But they need Carter and his genetic software to find their new Messiah.This book takes you on a thrilling ride as it tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Christ. At the same time, the author has done well to steer away from controversy. It book makes you marvel at the advances in genetic technology and makes you wonder whether there is any biological relic of Christ. And if so, what would it reveal?

The Messiah Code - by Michael Cordy Rs. 201 with free shipping @ flipkart

Kal ho na ho - There may not be a tomorrow..

Wonderful lyrics i like the most...

[ Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Life changes its beauty all the time

Chhaaon hai kabhi kabhi hai dhoop zindagi
Sometimes it’s a shade, sometimes life is sunlight

Har pal yahan jeebhar jiyo
Live every moment here to your heart’s content

Jo hai sama kal ho naa ho ] - 2
The time that is here may not be tomorrow

Chaahe jo tumhe poore dil se
One who loves you whole-heartedly

Milta hai voh mushkil se
It is difficult meet that person

Aisa jo koi kahin hai
If there is someone like that somewhere

Bas vohi sab se haseen hai
That person is more beautiful than all

Us haath ko tum thaam lo
Grab onto that (person’s) hand

Voh meherbaan kal ho naa ho
He or she may not be so gracious tomorrow

Har pal yahan jeebhar jiyo
Live every moment here to your heart’s content

Jo hai sama kal ho naa ho
The time that is here may not be tomorrow

Ho, palkon ke leke saaye paas koi jo aaye
Taking the shadow of your eyelashes, when someone comes near

Laakh sambhaalo paagal dil ko
You try to reason with your crazy heart

Dil dhadke hi jaaye
Your heart just goes on beating

Par soch lo is pal hai jo
But think, that which is here now

Voh daastaan kal ho naa ho
That story may not be here tomorrow

Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Life changes its beauty all the time

Chhaaon hai kabhi kabhi hai dhoop zindagi
Sometimes it’s a shade, sometimes life is sunlight

(Har pal yahan jeebhar jiyo
Live every moment here to your heart’s content

Jo hai sama kal ho naa ho) - 2
The time that is here may not be tomorrow

Jo hai sama kal ho naa ho
The time that is here may not be tomorrow

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Got this from someone thro mail... a nice read...

There once was a man who lived at the outskirts of a busy important city. He was a regular man, by all accounts. He lived with his wife. His daughters were grown up, and had moved out to homes of their own. He used to sell insurance for a government company for many years, but now he was old and had retired. Everyday after he woke, the man would strip away his clothes and examine every bit of his bony body. Then he would call for his wife, to examine the parts he couldn’t see for himself. His wife had protested initially at this meaningless exercise, and had even suggested he see the doctor if he was so worried about his health. But over the years, she had resigned herself to this bizarre morning routine.

When he was employed, the man would take the train to city everyday. He would get off at the station close to work, and take a bus to his office. His office was in one of the biggest buildings on one of the busiest roads in the city. He would reach his office by ten in the morning everyday and head to the cafeteria for a cup of tea. Then he would head to his little cubicle, pick up the list for the day, and head out. His job was to visit companies or important people and convince them of the benefits of insurance. He did his job fairly well, and his superiors had no complaints about him. He was a quiet sort of man, who was fairly easy to overlook. If you walked into a room in which he was sitting alone, you would tend not to notice him. He had the quality of old furniture that way; he looked like he was part of the environment around him, wherever he was. Because of this he wasn’t promoted very often. Like I said, he was easily overlooked. But that didn’t bother him. He wasn’t an ambitious sort of person. He was happy with his work, and his pay, so it didn’t occur to him to push for a better cubicle or a car, even when people junior to him were given all of this.

One day, a few months before he retired he visited the home of a rich businessman. His office had received a call from the businessman requesting for an insurance policy. The businessman had specifically named the man as the person he wished to liaise with. The office found this strange. The man wasn’t particularly popular or someone who moved in the businessman’s circle. Nevertheless, the businessman was an important person, and it was possible than he could generate a lot of income for the company, and so the message was passed on to the man. The man arrived a few minutes prior to the appointment as he always did.

The businessman lived in an affluent part of the city, where movie stars and politicians stayed. The streets were broad and well paved, and big trees lined either side of it. The businessman’s house was old and looked like it had been in the family for centuries. It had gabled windows and creepers clinging to its white walls. At the gate, the man gave his name to the guard, who glanced at his notepad, and waved him on. The man walked up a big gravel driveway to the house. The ground floor of the house was converted into a modern looking office, with steel and glass doors and fancy potted plants. Though the office itself was very nicely laid out, it seemed to the man that it looked distinctly ill at ease at being an inseparably attached to the old house.

The man announced himself to the receptionist who asked him to wait. The businessman was in a meeting. The man thanked her and settled himself on a plush sofa next to the window with a view of the garden. The receptionist returned to her phone, and promptly forgot about the man. The man was used to waiting, and so he looked out the window at the garden. It was after a little while that the man realized that the garden was looking back. He blinked, and squinted at the hedges again but he couldn’t see anything. He looked towards the receptionist to see if she had noticed anything, but she didn’t seem to have, busy as she was chewing gum and speaking on the phone. The man turned to window again, and jumped a little. There was a monkey outside the window, looking right at him. When the man got over his initial shock, he realized that it wasn’t a monkey, but a very old man. He was so old that he was bent almost double. His skin was wrinkled many times over, and he had grey stubble over his chin. The monkey-man beckoned to him, and hobbled towards a little shed at the edge of the garden. The man normally didn’t do things outside his routine, but he was curious about the monkey-man, and a little scared. He glanced at the receptionist, whose back was turned towards the cabinet behind her, and stepped outside the office. He traced the monkey-man’s steps to the little shed.

The man’s eyes took a little time to adjust to the darkness of the shed. A powerful smell of something decaying hung in the air. The shed had windows, but it looked like it hadn’t been opened in ages. The grime on the windows let hardly any light in. The shed had no electricity, but was dimly lit by three candle stubs on a weathered wooden table. The monkey-man smiled at the man, somehow making his face seem even more monkey-like.
‘You have come because of the Wood’, whispered the monkey-man. Most of his teeth were missing, and so his words had an undertone of a hiss.
‘The wood?’, asked the man, also whispering, though he had no idea why.
‘There is Wood in you, I can see it’, continued the old man.
The man turned to go. This was making no sense to him. The monkey-man was evidently not well. He was a practical sort of man, and he was getting uncomfortable about following the monkey-man to the shed. What if the guard came, he thought.
‘Wait’, hissed the monkey-man, ‘my son will not be finished with his meeting for a while’.
The man turned back. ‘Your son?’, he asked.
‘Yes, he is my son. But there is no Wood in him. There is no wood in me. I haven’t seen one with Wood in years’.
The man, deciding that he had had enough, started backing away towards the door. The monkey-man suddenly moved aside, and the man let out a strangled scream. In the flickering light of the candle stubs he saw rows upon rows of mangled human bodies carved inexpertly from what looked like driftwood. All the bodies had similar pained expressions on their faces, and their limbs were twisted into strange positions. The man turned and ran as fast as he could to the office. The monkey-man screeched, ‘Give me the Wood. Give me the Wood’.

The man pushed aside the glass door and ran into the office. The receptionist stared at him.
‘There’s a madman in that shed’, he yelled, pointing to the window. The inner door opened and the businessman stepped out.
‘I see you’ve met my father. I apologize on his behalf, please, do come in’, said the businessman.
The receptionist got a glass of water for the man and smiled at him sympathetically.
When the man was seated in the businessman’s room, and had resumed breathing normally, the businessman spoke.
‘My father isn’t very well. He usually keeps to himself. I don’t know what happened today. I am truly very sorry’.
‘Those figures’, said the man.
‘My father was a painter once. He turned to sculpting after he became unwell. He carves those grotesque figures from driftwood. Again, I am very very sorry about what you had to go through’.
‘No, it’s all right. Your father didn’t do anything. It was just, in that light, and those figures, it was all very spooky’, said the man.
‘I understand’, said the businessman.
No more was spoken about the episode. The businessman took a very expensive policy, and a bigger one for all the employees of his office. The businessman apologized again and walked the man to the door. The man was escorted to the gate by a guard, and he made his way back to office.


It was on the train when it began. He was on his way home from the city, where he had gone to pick up his pension. He had been expecting it; he always knew it would come. Being on a train made it inconvenient, though. At least, his wife wasn’t with him, he thought. The train stopped at a midway station. The man got out. He walked quickly to the railway postal service office, spoke to the man behind the counter, and wrote something down. He thanked the man behind the counter, and left the station. He crossed over the tracks and walked as fast as he could away from the station. Evening was falling, and soon there was no one in sight. The man doubled over in pain, and fell to his knees. He lifted his shirt, and felt his stomach. His stomach had turned to wood. Old, weather-beaten driftwood. He dug the earth where he had fallen. Scratching, clawing, pulling up large chunks of earth and stone, like a mad man, he created a hole in the earth, into which he sank. Crouching in the hole, he retrieved as much mud and earth as he could. The man was burying himself. When dawn broke, all that remained was the weathered wooden stump of the man’s hand protruding from the earth, as if reaching for the sky, or for help, who knew. People passing by didn’t give it a second look. It looked like the stump of a burned shrub, and it blended well into the shrubbery surrounding it.

The next day his wife received a letter in the post. The letter simply said: “I did not want to become part of his collection”. In the letter was enclosed the man’s pension cheque.