Saturday, December 30, 2006

Use Foxmarks to Improve Productivity!

A little time organizing the bookmarks in your web browser is a great productivity booster, and ...

With time you grow so accustomed to your own unique placement of links that working on another machine destroys your rhythm. It could be as disorienting as working with an unfamiliar browser or waking up in a strange room.

If you feel the same way and use Firefox (why don't you, btw?), then you absolutely must try Foxmarks.

I've been using it to keep my office, home and laptop in perfect sync. It hasn't crashed the browser, lost my bookmarks or drawn attention to itself in any other way. (But do back up your bookmarks, because not everyone has been equally lucky.)

Here are the easy steps:

  1. Log in to your primary machine, the one you use the most and on which you know your way around.
  2. Spend a little time to neaten up and organize the bookmarks.
  3. Back up your bookmarks. (Learn how to backup the bookmarks here.)
  4. Download and install Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
  5. Restart the browser. There would be a prompt to do so. (If you are doing something else in another tab or window, finish the work first.)
  6. Open an account on the Foxcloud Server. (Don't worry, this part happens automatically. You only need to choose a username and password.)
  7. Follow the prompts and your bookmarks would be copied to the Foxcloud server. Nothing else visibly changes.

On any machines that you need to synchronize now, follow essentially the same process, except the bit about opening a new account on Foxcloud. Instead, supply the original username and password. Foxmarks would merge any bookmarks on the new machine with those saved on the server and copy everything to the browser. Adjust as necessary and forget all about it.

You'd see the same set of bookmarks, identically placed on both (all of) your machines. Any changes you make at one place would appear at other places, before you notice the difference.

Now get productive!


Thursday, December 28, 2006

CNN-IBN Haj Expose - Where is the outrage?

New Delhi: Want to take the ultimate pilgrimage to God? Pay the middleman as the Haj is up for sale. Just as many temple establishments across India are often accused of exploiting poor Hindus, so also are poor, vulnerable Muslims who are being exploited for their beliefs.

Source: Muslims' faith misused by community leaders? : face the nation, Special Investigation :

This morning CNN also aired interviews with the common people, who it claimed were shocked and enraged.

But the two persons CNN-IBN chatted with actually showed no rage. They were, of course, reproachful in adequately strong language.

Perhaps, we are all so inured to such behaviour that it doesn't cause outrage. That's the reason why the exposes are all the more necessary.

We must come to expect the behaviour and design systems accordingly.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Okay, now why is he so successful?

This post continues from: Why is Amit Agarwal so successful?

A truly nice person

This is the first impression you get upon meeting Amit. (See my post after meeting him at BlogCamp in Chennai .)

He too wrote about interesting people he had met at BlogCamp. See his disarmingly simple reaction to something that could have led to a rant elsewhere.

GigaOm was represented by Shailaja Neelakantan who flew in from Delhi for the conference. While Shailaja was very disappointed with my session, nevertheless for me it was great meeting a writer who works with Forbes and GigaOm.

Source: BlogCamp India 2006: Meet Some Interesting People at Digital Inspiration

Here's another example, when a reader complained:

I can't believe I read that whole thing just to discover that all Amit is saying is "drag and drop". I want my ten seconds back.

Source: How to Add HTML Signatures with Images to GMail Email Messages at Digital Inspiration

His response: Wish I could give your 10 seconds back. :)

These are just a couple of examples. You can find the all over by visiting his blog:

All the hard work

Yes, he doesn't just tell you things he knows. He goes out and learns what his audience could be interested in. He experiments. He thinks and writes about what occurs to him.

He is a professional whose job happens to be blogging.

Like in other professions, hard work pays off handsomely. You could do an Amit in your own field, it doesn't have to be blogs.

A large body of work and an excellent brand

Yeah, Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was Digital Inspiration.

His new posts certainly bring him visitors, both from search (high PageRank) and subscriptions (a loyal audience). But don't forget that the old posts continue to drive visitors too. Because they show up high in lots of search results.

Success comes from both character and good tools. The latter are equally accessible to everyone (IP, market access issues aside). On the net, they are often free. (Read the bonus question at Why is Amit Agarwal so successful?)

So what makes him the phenomenon that he is? The same qualities that have been valued for long. The digital world isn't so different after all.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quantum of punishment in Jessica Lall case

The Delhi High Court has found Manu Sharma guilty of murdering Jessica Lall under Section 302 of IPC.

The NDTV reports on its website (today, December 20, 2006):

It is a big day at the Delhi High Court where a two-judge bench will sentence Manu Sharma and his co-accused Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Gill in the Jessica Lall murder case.
The court is hearing arguments from both the prosecution and defence before it decides on the quantum of punishment.

Was Manu Sharma's action premeditated?

Perhaps, not. He appears to have acted in the heat of the moment. If so, the the death penalty may be unwarranted.

However, there are others in the Jessica Lall case who could be guilty of lesser crimes.

But they acted with greater premeditation and for their own advantages. So shouldn't they be tried and awarded the maximum punishment for crimes they may be convicted of?

The co-accused

Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Gill have been found guilty of abetting the crime and destroying evidence. Their arrest was also ordered by the High Court.

They already face sentencing by the court.

Delhi Police officers

The Delhi Police was ordered by the High Court to investigate the role of its officials, who allegedly tampered with the evidence and influenced the investigations. 

I'm not trained in law, but don't they become accessories-after-the-fact?

"AN accessory after the fact may be, where a person, knowing a felony to have been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon.17 Therefore, to make an accessory ex post facto, it is in the first place requisite that he knows of the felony committed.18 In the next place, he must receive, relieve, comfort, or assist him. And, generally, any assistance whatever given to a felon, to hinder his being apprehended, tried, or suffering punishment, makes the assistor an accessory. As furnishing him with a horse to escape his pursuers, money or victuals to support him, a house or other shelter to conceal him, or open force and violence to rescue or protect him."

Source: William Blackstone quoted in Wikipedia article on legal definition of an Accessory.

The judge that heard the case at trial stage

And finally what about Justice S. L. Bhayana, whose judgement has been found "perverse" at some place by the High Court?

Originally hailing from Rohtak in Haryana, Bhayana was a practising lawyer in Tis Hazari courts for 12 years before he became a judge. He was overlooked for promotion in 2004 but got it immediately after the Jessica judgement. 



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Saturday, December 16, 2006

A thought on outreach

Interesting thought from someone at the Global Voices Summit now on at New Delhi:

The other thing is that it is very hard to encourage just by outside examples. Every people thinks that their country is so different that outside models are just hard to be adopted. It might or might not, but the perception is strong that it is.

Source: Hungarian Accent :: A thought on outreach :: December :: 2006

Yes, the perception that "outside models are just hard to be adopted" can be strong and there are good reasons for it,  not easily seen by those who offer outside examples.

Some decades ago Fred W. Riggs developed his theories using similar insights from his observations around the world.

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Photographs of people in Conferences?

Most conferences look the same. You could possibly tag photos from earlier conferences and not be found out. (Same, perhaps, could be said of large weddings.)

But photographs give you a sense of being there. And I did look at some that carribbeanfreephoto has been regularly uploading on flickr. Thanks, georgiap!

Next I want to remote participate in a wedding on flickr, even though I never like to look at wedding photos.


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Remote participation in Conferences

This morning the Global Voices 06 Summit got off in New Delhi.

I was hoping to join in person, but that didn't happen. Well conferences now have IRC channels, streaming broadcasts and all, so maybe I thought all is not lost!

But the experience hasn't been very exciting so far and someone else expressed similar thoughts on the IRC. (Likely Ethan Zuckerman, but one can never tell from the nick alone.)

*** jace [n=jace@] has quit [Nick collision from services.]

*** jace_ is now known as jace

*** Rosario [] has joined #globalvoices

<i-ange> LUG - linux user groups

*** FrancoGG left #globalvoices []

*** Delal_ [n=chatzill@] has joined #globalvoices

<Guest605> My son is damn good at writing, Jeremy. Do you mind giving me a blog site for kids where he can join in?

<ethanz__> someday, one of these conferences will go so smoothly I can actually participate in it... :-)

*** ethanz [n=ethanz@] has quit [Read error: 110 (Connection timed out)]

How does one participate remotely and yet be reasonably in the loop? I find it difficult even when physically present at conferences, what with all the simultaneous sessions.

Perhaps, the best bet is that people live blog and use the official tag.


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Judgement calls in organisations

New Delhi: The Ulta Pul was a casualty waiting to happen. The foot overbridge that smashed down on top of a moving train on Saturday morning was a British relic - over 140 years old and beyond repair. Coach No. F-8 of the Howrah-Jamalpur Superfast Express was crushed under the weight of the Ulta Pul, which was being demolished - a new one having been constructed and already in use to replace it. Though all the passengers trapped inside the coach were rescued and taken to a district hospital, 33 of them succumbed to their injuries.

Source: IBNLive : Bhagalpur was waiting to happen!

Perhaps the full story would only emerge when the statutory enquiry is completed, but it appears that someone made a Himalayan error of judgement.

When is a structure that's been partially pulled down likely to tip over and fall? There is no straight forward way to predict this accurately. And if trains cannot be stopped to remove the structure first, someone would be forced to make that judgement call.

With perfect hindsight we now know that on Saturday it was unsafe to allow the train to roll under the last remaining arch. Not too long ago a group of highly trained engineers at NASA made an error of judgement when they allowed Space Shuttle Columbia to re-enter the earth's atmosphere, without repairing damage to its heat shield.

Perhaps, the risk to this train on Saturday should have been easier to assess than the shuttle's, but I wouldn't think it was a trivial matter. Structures are notoriously difficult to assess.

Am I suggesting that we accept such disasters or rationalize them away as having been sent from Heaven?

No. I only suggest that being forced to make judgement calls, when there are organizational pressures to accept one recommendation rather than the other makes it extremely risky. Think back to the Challenger disaster and Feynman's account of his investigations into it. (Appendix F, Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle, Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident.)

Many of us make judgement calls. Not about stock markets, but other peoples lives. Think doctors, for instance. Or military commanders. But engineering failures are kill many people in a single, visible incident. So they make news.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Making Sense of Stock Market

For any given future time period, there is no assured strategy for:

  1. Making money, however small the transaction cost.
  2. Losing money, if transaction cost is zero.
  3. Protecting your wealth (against inflation) that completely ignores stock, commodity or other markets.

Corollary: Active trading in a system with non-zero transaction cost makes 2 achievable and 1 unlikely.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dog eat dog world of Game Theory

Out on a walk in the morning, I saw four or five very excited dogs that had surrounded a man sitting on his haunches.

Getting closer, I realised that this man had brought food for them, which naturally led to all the excitement. There was another dog (let's call him White) some paces away, who was kept pushed back and not allowed to join in the party by those who got there first!

I moved quickly to gain a safe distance. That's when I noticed yet another dog (Black, okay?) some 100 metres further down, also walking determinedly to crash the party.

The dramatis personae had gathered and I began to wonder how the script would unfold. Will the two latecomers be able to take on a numerically stronger, established group?

White seemed to debate the same question as he waited for his natural ally to reach the scene. 

They were dealing with dangerous guys, and White knew the odds well. So he quickly went over his notes of , that no doubt his professors in the school of hard knocks had drilled in very solidly. And he declared his strategy by energetically challenging the newcomer!

A ferocious, and probably unnecessary contest, seemed all set, when one from the entrenched group broke away and joined White in beating away the intruder.

And then both returned happily to the party. How cool, I thought!

I moved on, contemplating the lessons so brilliantly worked out by  but even more amazed by how nature has given all her creatures the ability to work out answers, without recourse to any theory. Wish I learnt to theorize less and experience more.

A little later I saw the problem developing in to a game theory nightmare. Two more dogs were following the scent of the friendly man that brought food each morning.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Should you have the right to sell your kidney?

Amit Varma asks the question, "Does your body belong to you?" And responds as follows:

Your answer, but naturally, would be: "Of course it does. How dare you even ask?"
And I presume that you'd strongly protest any attempt by the government to assume control over your body. If it issued a diktat that you may not use your left hand on Sundays, or pierce your left earlobe during summer, you would sneer in disbelief, and refuse to give in to the state's conceit.
I also presume that you'd extend your ownership to your kidneys.

Source: India Uncut: Does your body belong to you?

"Legalising the trade of kidneys, thus, should be a complete no-brainer," he goes on to argue.

Quite so, but it may not be correct to assume that because you have ownership of your body, you may trade in it as you please. That would allow unfettered licence for prostitution. Worse, it would make it legal for a very rich man to buy body parts--for making soup, for instance.

Therefore, the trade must be regulated because markets often do not produce desirable (or even efficient) outcomes. Not only in kidneys, but in all the other things that you may own or create.

Consider this: a rich man buys a kidney or two from people who's tissue-type matches his own, and then forbids them from donating or selling to anyone else, as a kind of insurance for himself. Would that be desirable, or even defensible?

Amit doesn't actually make the simplistic argument above. I made it up to present the case for regulation of any trade in kidneys.

How should such regulation be effected? How would I know, I'm only a blogger!


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Micro Persuasion: The Underground Blogosphere

Steve Rubel has an interesting post on bloggers pitching their posts via email in the hope of getting a link.

The Underground Blogosphere is an intricate web of hundreds of thousands of emails that bloggers send to each other every day. In essence, they are "pitching" their latest posts in hopes of getting a link. Sometimes, bloggers are genuinely looking for good feedback, but more often than not all they are just looking for traffic.

Source: Micro Persuasion: The Underground Blogosphere

There are divergent and equally interesting viewpoints in the comments.

Here I want to share my own experience with emailing links:

  1. I've done it exactly twice to bloggers, because I blogged about what they had written. (One linked and both responded via email. The one who did not link, and neither was expected to, responded again about a later post via email!)
  2. Have also occasionally emailed links to people I know. Mostly these have been ignored, but not the mail itself! (Several attempts to interest my wife, for instance, have completely failed :-)

My point is that there are bloggers (who almost always also read blogs, at least in their own area of interest). And there are other "normal" people, who don't.

The former are interested in links to posts they want to read. So it is fair, if you send them a mail, but only if you genuinely think they would be interested. (There can be no chance of a link, if they aren't interested. And even future possibilities would be closed if your email is put on the blocked senders' list. So it is a self-limiting problem.)

Finally, I've found that most influential, widely read and respected professionals are extremely nice people. And unless provoked to the extreme, are gracious in their response. Steve is one of them.

There is no point in testing their limits. They know how to deal with spam.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How to Save the World

Here's an excerpt from an old post of Dave Pollard's.

In the Spring of 1969 I fell deliriously, profoundly in love with a tiny, intense young woman of quiet and staggering intelligence. Joanne was an accomplished pianist and flautist who planned to study music at the renowned Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. I wanted to study philosophy and political science and creative writing and an extensive and incongruous group of other subjects. But most of all I wanted to travel the world with Joanne, to transport us to some wondrous, distant place, wrapped in a mutually-woven cocoon of idealistic emotional and intellectual passion and protected from an outside world that I saw as nothing more than a coarse and rude intrusion into the perfection and purity that was we two.

Source: How to Save the World

I'm sure most of you have known a Joanne (or a Dave). For her sake, and for your own, do find the time to read the piece.

Talking about stories takes away from their charm, so I won't type a letter more.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Right brain versus left brain work

Here's a teaser that Dina Mehta put up on her blog. Which was, of course, cracked by her very intelligent readers in no time.

Do puzzle over it before you check the answer.

If you use the right brain to solve it, you won't need a method and a fully formed answer would drop into your mind, as if by magic.

To use the left brain, skip down and follow the suggested steps. May be called cheating in this case.

Was passing by one of the busiest 'walls' in Bombay today .. and couldn't resist this picture. Any guesses on the product? No pink prizes ange :)

A picture named red rose.jpg

Source: Conversations with Dina

The cheating way:

  1. It has to be Red Ro?e. So Rose is a no brainer.
  2. The ® indicates, it is trademark for some product.
  3. The products are PAM*/PAN*; SL*; NIGH*. If you are too lazy to think, go over to, put these letters in the text box, choose "Match these letters" from the dropdown. (You'd have to do it 4 times; twice to cover PAM*/PAN*. )
  4. Select similar products from generated list.
  5. Verify that length of words, when centred or right aligned, match the visible pattern.
  6. Announce the answer to yourself!

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Placing a dagger to seek relief?

"None can be permitted to place a dagger on the neck of the person and seek relief. None can be permitted to hold the city, law and order and the law-abiding citizens to ransom and then ask for relief," Supreme Court of India

Source: The Hindu : Front Page : Apex court will not stay sealing

Yes,it isn't lawful to do so.

But running businesses from residential areas isn't lawful either. MCD turning a blind eye to the goings-on for years isn't lawful. And God knows a thousand other things aren't lawful that the traders could point out against others.

And if you go beyond lawful to what is unfair, reporting the sound byte may not be fair to the judges, whose decisions are probably based on the law and jurisprudence, and not vivid analogies.

But even if the judges hadn't said so, anybody else could have. And there are other provocative things being said, which nobody can stop from rippling through the society.

In other words, this issue is political and the solution would have to be political too.

A full time mom blogs about it here:,

A young man at:

There would be many more. And some may have given analysis based on knowledge of these issues, although I couldn't locate much.

Sound bytes help crystallize opinions, so they have a use. Pelting stones, setting shops on fire or killing people may have been too be useful, in the past. Today we have the option to use all caps, if we must.

We did talk about new options earlier at: Is blogging any use for politics?


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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sivamani with the Silk in Concert

Have you ever cried and then found it difficult to explain, even to yourself, what had overcome you?

Or woken up from a dream with a recollection more vivid than your normal perception with eyes wide open, and then lost it faster than evaporating dew?

I feared something like this might happen if I delayed writing about yesterday's Indo Jazz concert at the Music Academy, Chennai. It was such a visceral experience!

Sivamani took time reaching the stage, but that's because he entered from the rear, beating drum midst the audience: some basic rhythm and standard showmanship. But man, when he touched that huge drum kit on the stage, it was magic!

I have never heard such drumming before, but can give you an idea if you've heard the sound of distant thunder, the piccolo of birds, and the breath of a tiger. If you have heard the silence of a missed sob.

If you have not just heard these sounds, but experienced them, you have done well to prepare yourself to hear the God of percussion that is Sivamani!

I might have said that he dominated the concert. But that would be exaggeration. Because there was also that sublime vocalist, Shankar Mahadevan

And Louis Banks on the keyboards. This legendary jazz musician, however, preferred to play second fiddle last night.

There were Sridhar Parthasarathy, on mridangam and Karl Peters on electric guitar. Karl's playing the strings percussively and Sridhar's masterful handling of the mridangam enhanced the dominant sounds of the evening.

Surely the jazz aficionados would have preferred more keyboard work. But you can't accommodate everything in one evening, can you?

Mahadevan, however, accommodated a request by the audience to sing Kajra Re! 

It ensured that everyone went home happy!!



Friday, November 03, 2006

Everyday experience and the connected world

Experience seldom scales up very well. We know that:

  1. Hand written greeting cards bring a joy that is missing in e-greetings and forwarded SMS's.
  2. Cooking for a family is different from managing a large kitchen.
  3. Experience of managing a corner store doesn't help when the business is a large departmental store.

It is the same when we tranfer our experience of personal interactions from real world to the virtual one.

People around you wouldn't ignore you so completely, as they may online. A polite smile is almost biologically programmed, but there is no equivalent on the net.

You now have the freedom to say what you want. But nobody has the slightest obligation to pay attention.

In some respects it is disconcerting, but in many others it is fun too!

Source: gapingvoid- cartoons drawn on the back of business cards


Thursday, November 02, 2006

The smell of snake oil

New futuristic transportation coming to a city near you?

It's the SkyBus running on Goa Test Track, but according to Mr B Rajaram on, "India is not getting benefit of own technology innovation."

Hardly surprising because he claims:

  • The SkyBus can provide the comfort of air conditioned travel at speeds up to 250 kmph. 
  • A 100 km network can be built in less than 3 years at roughly Rs 5000 crores.
  • Estimated return on investment exceeds 15%

Smells of snake oil to me. (Please read the text below.)

But it seems crores of rupees from public funds have already been spent on the test track and other development work!

Perhaps, some bloggers might want to have a more careful look and form an opinion. (If you blog about it, please, do tag it: SkyBusAtrilab.)

Strategy: Digitally empowered knowledge-embedded- infrastructure-evolution to make basic infrastructure
of roads, railways, air/sea ports, power management, healthcare, water/sewage management, municipal
house keeping functions, habitat development for under-privileged, agricultural water management/
harvesting/ transportation to processing centers, basic food processing and delivery systems, educational
support – almost covering the entire gamut of human life.

Source: Atrilab About Us

Update: In response to this post I received a document called the SkyBus Fallacy. It raises some very interesting and pertinent questions. (The last part is an embedded image, which does not show clearly in Google Docs. If you need to verify the calculations yourself, I shall be happy to email the original MS Word file.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two new browsers in one week

The world saw two new browsers this week: IE7 and Firefox 2.0.! And what changed as a consequence?

Tabbed browsing in IE7

Oh there was tabbed browsing in IE6 through an add-on from Microsoft itself. And I remembered their well-positioned close buttons, but couldn't locate them now!

Is there a new completely intuitive way to close tabs that I couldn't discover? Had I fallen below Scott Adams "incompetence line", using the browsers benchmark?

Mercifully, the close buttons appeared when I opened a second tab. But for a while I was scared!

Tabbed browsing in Firefox 2.0

The text from Bookmarks Toolbar periodically overlaps the tabs, making them unreadable! This couldn't be a bug in the new Firefox!!

Does it only affect some windows users or those with a certain display adapter? Should I upgrade the browser on the laptop and check if that too is similarly affected? Should I do a net search first?


The spellcheck in Firefox 2.0 is really cool.

I liked it instantly. It even worked in Google chat from within gmail. Naturally, of course!  So let me not think too much about the garbled text for now.


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Monday, October 23, 2006

A Sign of Maturity

Relationships move on a continuum, from acquaintance to intimacy.

Between opposite sexes, this movement is relentlessly left to right, as if on a ratchet. And loss of traction usually leads to a broken mechanism!

A sign of maturity is the acquired skill to be happy moving it slowly or not at all. Even accommodating backward slippages.


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Saturday, October 21, 2006

A procession of victims

Scott Carney often wonders about and highlights the ills of society that he witnesses around him:

"She always came to school shabbily dressed and her refusal to listen to us was affecting the discipline of the school. We even sent warning letters to her parents but the girl simply refused to tie her hair. On Thursday we cut her hair as punishment, but had no intention of humiliating the girl," said Principle Saloni Khanna in defense of her actions.

Source: Trailing Technology: Teacher Cuts of Student's Hair; School Pillaged

The parents of the child retaliated by wrecking the school.

This piece set me thinking about the succession of victims here:

  1. the school (of indiscipline among children)
  2. the child (of the teachers' wrath)
  3. the school (being wrecked, and also perhaps harassed about its actions)
  4. the parents (access being denied to their children to schooling)

There could be more victims. Before the incident, for instance, it may have been the mother, burdened with the requirements of the child's grooming and presentation, and also the housework--and perhaps a job and/or the unhelpful husband.

Perhaps, a skilled novelist, rather than an inexperienced blogger trying to make sense, might be able to ferret out all the victims for the next Booker.

I contemplate Karpman's drama triangle, that explains it all and may suggest an escape from the grips of this drama.

An excellent place to begin is the wikipedia article, and the two references given there:


Elevator logic

The fidgety man in a business suit repeatedly jabs the call button. And when he pushes both the up and down buttons, you know more about him than you care to know.

However, I contemplate not the circumstances of his childhood and life, but a much simpler question. Why don't elevator designers punish the behaviour by resetting the call status?

It should have several advantages:

  1. Pressing the button a second time could delay the arrival of the car by canceling the previous call. (It would also require pressing the button a third time, but some users apparently derive pleasure from such effort, so we won't bring it up.)
  2. You could cancel a call for the wrong direction, if it was a genuine mistake or if you changed your mind.
  3. It would save wear and tear on the elevator buttons.

Why don't we design elevators like this? Have I missed something obvious?


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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Desipundit bids farewell!

It is never any good dwelling on goodbyes. It is not the being together that it prolongs, it is the parting.

British writer, Elizabeth Bibescu

Without so much as a prior hint, Patrix announced to his incredulous readers that desipundit would quit this month end.

There have been almost a hundred pleas for him to reconsider the decision and undoubtedly the flood isn't weakening soon.

For most part, the readers have shown a very mature response. While they've hoped that the decision could be reversed, they also acknowledge that the host (and other contributors) have the right to determine how much effort they are willing to spare for desipundit.

All very nice. So Patrix has the right to shut it down because it is his blog after all? Here's my take on why it could be a case of bad judgement.

It is evident that desipundit has cultivated a loyal readership. This imposes a certain responsibility on those who have engaged the readers over a period of time.

Earning goodwill is different from earning money. If you have my money in exchange for something, the money is yours in an absolute sense. You may do with it exactly as you wish. But when you have my goodwill, it's different. So Patrix, you may use any money that desipundit has generated, there is no obligation to give it away to charity.

But I said goodwill is different from money in your bank account. It's different because when you spend, or even waste money, you destroy nothing. The money moves on and is available to someone else. When you waste away goodwill, it doesn't reappear in somebody else's pocket.

Some readers have suggested that you could hand it over to others and get new contributors who are willing to do their bit. It is understandable that you don't want that to happen. However, it's understandable only if you acknowledge an attachment to desipundit, even though you see no obligation to continue it any longer. To give up a child for adoption is very difficult, but it's a better option than to strangulate it.

You wrote a short matter-of-fact post that reminds me of the words of Swinburne:

I remember the way we parted,
The day and the way we met;
You hoped we were both broken-hearted,
And knew we should both forget.

But the readers don't want to forget and have freely expressed their opinions. I'm sure you have found their response at least heart-warming, if not overwhelming.

You say that other contributors agree with your decision. It would be better if they came out and spoke for themselves. They have a readership too and they owe at least an honest blog post on the subject right here.Let me admit that I haven't been introduced to desipundit for very long, just a few days. So I'm not motivated by a feeling of a great personal loss. And if desipundit leaves a void behind, in the fullness of time it would be filled in by someone else. It's just that I had this urge to explore the issues involved here.

One last conversation, Patrix?



Desipundit is back!

Congratulations to Patrix for a very good, mature decision. And best wishes to Saket, who has taken over the reins, and the new teams members (see Desipundit, Redux).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Making Windows Live Writer work with Blogger Beta

You are warned that there is no going back! Does that makes you apprehensive about the new Blogger Beta?

Well I took the irreversible step yesterday and found it has been smooth sailing so far. There were some issues in making Windows Live Writer work properly, and these I've tried to explain below.

Before the Plunge

Please be aware that customizations and third party code in the template would be lost, if you switch to the new layout in place of template.

You don't want your blog to look like a diva without make-up on Sunday morning, so set aside a little time for the switchover. Getting everything back is easy, but it isn't an automatic process.

Especially, remember to setup AdSense again.

Also be sure to:

  1. Download Windows Live Writer Version 1.0 (145). Earlier versions won't work.
  2. Get a Gmail account.

After you have migrated to Blogger Beta

If you haven't already installed the latest version of Live Writer do so now. You can install over your existing version.

Take the steps as outlined below.

Start Live Writer and select Edit Weblog Settings from the menu as shown here:

Now, fill in the details about your blog. It is important to write your username as the full gmail ID.

(I didn't and the Live Writer failed to download the blog template. Therefore, "Web Layout" and "Web Preview" options didn't operate initially.)

That's all!

Everything should happen automatically hereafter and you can settle down to enjoy enhanced blogging experience or coffee (or whatever).


Oops! The Live Writer may fail to automatically detect your blog settings and take you to a configuration page.

It would ask the following questions. (Answer to the first is already filled in.)
Type of weblog you are using:
Blogger (Atom)

Remote posting url for your weblog:

You need to provide the missing feed-id, which is a number. To find this number for your blog, go to and login with your gmail id and password.

Click on Settings, which will take you to the setting page, with a url like: in the address bar.

Copy and paste the feed-id number ?????? in the appropriate place in remote posting url.

You’re now done!

Friday, October 13, 2006

What's the risk?

Language can both express and conceal.  Could it be that sometimes what's not visible in the original expresses itself in translation?

Here is the quaintly worded apprehension of a trash collector in Baghdad. It's cited in today's New York Times headlines email.

"When we are working, we are working nervously. We are carrying our souls in our hands."
SABAH AL-ATIA a trash collector in Baghdad.

The lede itself says:

"In a city where a bomb could be lurking beneath any heap of refuse, trash collectors have one of the deadliest jobs."

Notice the difference between the two?

However, "to carry life on the palm of the hand" is an everyday expression in north Indian languages and could denote much smaller risks, like recklessly riding a bike or crossing a busy road.

The quote (slightly mistranslated?)  expresses the risks more evocatively than the probably stronger statement in the lede.

I hope Sabah's own assessment of risk is lower. But I hope his everyday expression doesn't conceal any real risks in his own mind or in the minds of those who could help him.

I wish him all the luck he needs!


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Dry Eyes--what your doctor may NOT suspect!

liquid eye
Originally uploaded by Pacito.

The annual physical is fun if they don't find any heart problems, or diabetes or any of the other serious illnesses.

Doctors must be nice to those who have the option of walking out. And they must work harder to show something for a whole morning of efforts. For instance, last time the ophthalmologist told me I had dry eyes.

He prescribed a lubricating eye drop, which I ignored. It could be the strain from looking at the computer screen for hours or, perhaps, something that happens with the age. Who cares?

However, my eyes got progressively itchy and tired, even in the mornings when they should be rested. So I bought the eye drops and, wow, they helped. But that's not the story!

Here's Mayo Clinic on likely causes of dry eyes, and there are hundreds of other web sites that give similar reasons:

For some people, the cause of dry eyes is an imbalance in the composition of their tears. Other people don't produce enough tears to keep their eyes comfortably lubricated. Eyelid problems, medications and other causes, such as environmental factors, also can lead to dry eyes.

Source: Dry eyes: Causes -

But my problem turned out to be entirely different and took me months to figure out.  While putting it on the face, I was getting a bit of the moisturizer into the eyes as well!

Can you imagine doing that? If you can’t, but have itchy eyes, do pay attention to how you apply the moisturizer, or cream or whatever.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Making Sense of Art

Do you like what you see below? There are more like these, where this one came from.

hate is just a word


Source: gapingvoid: "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards": hate is just a word

What it says is nice.  The graphic's nice too. And so's how they divide the space within the rectangle. But it's how all these elements work together that makes it so perfect and appealing for me. 

I know that's not much of an explanation. But it is always so difficult to explain appeal.

You must see this one too, that I noticed just now:

It takes another viewpoint on the same phenomenon as Conversations in the Digital World. But it's a lot more interesting.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Conversation in the digital world

People have this enormous need to express themselves, but a limited capacity to pay attention to others. So what drives conversation? Obviously attention, because that's scarce.

Conversation is a sequence of ... um, exchanges. And an exchange, for it to be completed, requires acceptance.

Exchanges feed off attention.

In conditions of attention-scarcity, exchanges must compete among themselves for their fodder. This is the classic situation where Darwin's law of natural selection operates. Only the fittest exchanges survive, as determined by their ability to grab attention.

Therefore, conversation does not progress by any intelligent design, in either the sender's or the recipients mind. It is formed automatically by stringing together of exchanges that had the best chance of survival.

That's such a disturbing thought.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A strange blogging coincidence

Some time after I published my last post, I found what another blogger, with a far bigger audience, had written minutes before.

It mentions sandwich, frappe, Cafe Coffee Day and death. Let me quickly add that  death has nothing to do with the first three. It has to do with this post.

How death must concentrate the mind. I can't imagine how I'd react if told that I had just months to live: would I do the things do with more urgency, or would I feel that doing anything was pointless now? Would I try to squeeze all possible joy into spending time with my loved ones, or would I withdraw into myself, typically morose and depressive? Would I blog? What would I write?

Source: India Uncut: Enjoy every sandwich

In 1987 I was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia and lived with this knowledge for a few days before the diagnosis was changed to generalised lymphadenopathy due to a viral infection. (If AIDS had been commonplace then, the lymphadenopathy would have led to  ELISA for HIV, but I was spared that trauma!)

Anyway, a series of biopsies and blood tests ruled out the cancer and I have lived to blog about it.

Leukemia was not certain death, even in those days. You could hope. And I hadn't been given a confirmed diagnosis. But at one stage, it was about 80% chance that I had no more than 6 months. That's what I knew and had to handle, whether it true and in line with the doctor's estimated odds or not.

My first thoughts were that my parents need not know "till absolutely unavoidable". The doctor said I'd need their support even to go through with the chemotherapy. But he agreed that it could wait until the treatment had to commence, if indeed it had to commence at all.

However, I told my friends about it. I could handle their reactions, only not those of my parents. But I think they already knew.

I remember celebrating the Diwali that year as the only patient in the cabins not allowed home for the festival. Because my home wasn't in the city where I was hospitalised. And what I called my home (in Bombay) was a lonely bachelor pad anyway.

A friend of mine brought me a wonderful, home-cooked dinner on the festival evening and stayed behind till it was bedtime. I was also visited by a rocket that strayed into the wards and died there without exploding.

In later days, I enjoyed reading the books that my friends brought me and their chatter when they visited. We were brave! Only they didn't share all their thoughts with me, as I later learnt. 

The nurses was very nice and I enjoyed little chats with them too. And some of the doctors I now count among friends.

I was not a typical patient. I was "ambulatory" as was noted in the papers; friendly, which they omitted to mention; and if the diagnosis did not turn out to be true, just a guest that stayed a fortnight.

I was never filled with dark, depressive thoughts. Perhaps, because the news didn't sink in fully before I was let off the hook. Maybe, therefore, I'm not qualified to answer Amit's queries. But anybody can speculate and blog, isn't it?

Amit asks, would he blog if he was given six months time?

I would if have an audience that I relate to and converse with. They would be immensely helpful through such times. Just like my friends in flesh and blood were in those days when blogs hadn't been invented.

Yes, priorities would change because there won't be enough time for some things that are otherwise important. I'd resign my job and play more piano. But if I have time, I can hope to play even more piano by keeping the job and, perhaps, also own that baby grand I've been eyeing.

But I won't have anything unimportant to give up. Because if it's not important, I'd cut if out anyway.

When still at the hospital, I escaped and went to Maratha mandir to enjoy an ice cream, for which the poor nurse on duty received a reprimand. I apologised to her but would do it again, because "every sandwich must be enjoyed".

Yes, even those that come with an unforgivable corn mean and rice offering.

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Doesn't make business sense!

Minutes ago I had a Coffee Frappe and a Super Sandwich Chicken Tikka at Cafe Coffee Day. Good coffee, spoilt by awful business strategy!

I asked for a chicken sandwich from their menu. The service person informed me that the price of the sandwich had changed.

But, of course! This is my third visit in the week and I knew that already. Though I hadn't ordered a sandwich recently, the hand corrected menu has been familiar for months now.

Oh the price had gone up again he told me. From Rs 40 to 60. But I don't complain about that anymore.  Not since Professor Harford explained all about coffee prices in The Undercover Economist. The money doesn't go to the Cafe chain.

Perhaps, the sandwich was venti now, and I was hungry, and you know it's all about self-targeting anyway. (You've read this book, haven't you? Makes paying for coffee much easier.)

In short, I was comfortable paying the small sum of Rs 60 that was asked for.

But what I received was a sandwich and a Chatpatta Sticks packet. Something I won't pick up on my own for Rs 2 at a railway station. Someone else may, but I won't.

Now I've had coffee on four different continents. Where in the world do they include anything like Chatpatta Sticks with either sandwich or coffee? And does that make their coffee more or less affordable?

I wish they wouldn't cheat us.

And the price for the 22 gms of unforgivable corn meal and rice offering in the packet? Rs 10, inclusive of all taxes. That makes me wonder: If the packet becomes part of the sandwich, do I pay tax on tax?

Post Script:

Hey, I am a confirmed blogger now. I write about coffee and sandwich, and finish the post on a laptop while riding back in the car!

But it is not a bloggers ready world: I wish the Cafe coffee Day's wifi service was still available to customers and my camera cell phone had easy Bluetooth connectivity for transferring pictures. I'd have shown you pictures of the restaurant with the chatpatta sticks in the foreground and the server (waiter) in background. And also included the IP address of their server (proxy) in the post.

Cool, and I might yet recover the money that I lost if a coffee ad is served up alongside and you decide to check it out. But please, don't do it unless you really are interested in the ad. If it's construed that I encouraged you to do so, I might lose the Google adSense publisher status and any hopes of recovering the loss incurred on that sandwich--through legitimate blogging about the experience.

Thanks. Now don't, unless it is your decision.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Control Systems Explanation for Yoga

is often designed to reduce the difference between the actual and desired output (error) by using the error signal itself to  modify the input.

This is the principle of closed-loop  control.  Engineers use it to design systems that control everything from the flight path of a cruise missile to the temperature of your living room.

Please read the two paragraphs above again, if you are unfamiliar with this stuff. They present the essential ideas in a few sentences, even if the description could be faulted.

(And if you are really good at this, please, help describe the ideas in simpler terms in the comments. Thank you.)

There are two important elements in a control system:

Sensors to measure the appropriate variables

Without sensors, it's like flying an aircraft without knowing your altitude, location, speed, the orientation of the craft, etc.

A model of what is being controlled

Without an appropriate model, it's like handing over the aircraft to your refrigerator thermostat, which doesn't understand (has no model appropriate for) aircrafts in flight. But more about it in a later post.

Now, much the same thing happens within our body, which has an enormously complex control system.

Do you slouch? Or know someone who does? How easy it is to be unaware of the slouch. Or the fact that we habitually lean to one side, or slide forward in the chair, or keep the shoulders pushed up while typing. And most importantly, we are seldom aware any of these postural defects.

We think that we are sitting straight in a comfortable, neutral pose and discount the information about the slouch that our senses send in. Over time, the sensory information gets degraded by repeatedly being modified (discounted) and we lose the calibration. We no longer have reliable information for efficient and effective control.

Yoga makes you aware of your body: How well is your weight distributed? How straight is your spinal column? That sort of thing. And this give the body an opportunity to recalibrate the sensors periodically.

You already know from the aircraft analogy, just how important accurate information is. I leave you think how its lack affects your body.

An ancient system of exercise called Yoga

Lisa Peake has some interesting observations about her experiences with yoga.  An excerpt from her earlier post is given below and she has written about it again here.

"One of my current working theories is that people in this day and age have become extraordinarily disconnected from our bodies. [...] It seems to me that people are identifying more and more with our minds and emotions, and quite a lot less with our physical, bodily experiences."

Source: Lisa Peake: Waking up the body

I too have tried to understand how this ancient system of conditioning and exercising the mind and body works.

From an engineer's perspective, I think achieves the following:

  1. Calibration of sensors
  2. Improvement in the brain's model of the body
  3. Isometric exercise to strengthen the muscles
  4. Stretching to improve the strength and flexibility of tendons and ligaments

Makes no sense?  

Okay, let me explain these points one at a time. (They shall become clickable links in this post, as I progress.)

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Non-verbal component in text-based communication

In her post Everlasting Communication, Liz Strauss wonders about the non-verbal part in communicating through screen or paper.

Studies say that well over 50% of our communication is nonverbal – how the message is presented, body language. When communicating over the telephone, one researcher found that 84% of communication is vocal and 16% is verbal.
It makes me wonder how that all changes when we put our thoughts directly on screen or on paper.

Source: Letting me be . . . random wondering and philosophy

Non-verbal component remains an important part, although I'm not sure how researchers compute their percentages.

Let's examine two types of online text based communication, distinguished by the number of interactions per instance.

Chat or Instant Messaging

Frequency and use of smiley's

  1. An unexpected smiley makes one look for what isn't manifestly stated in words.
  2. A long period of smiley-less interaction is also subliminally noticed. (Not the usual self?)

Frequency of typos

  1. Unusually high rate may indicate tiredness, distraction, or a sudden rush of thoughts.
  2. Extended typo-free conversation could indicate unusual carefulness in choosing the words

Frequency and speed of response

  1. Slow, but rich and unexpected, responses. High degree of engagement in the conversation?
  2. Quick, but weak responses. Flagging of interest?
  3. Slow and weak responses. High level of distraction!

Other cues

  1. Typing for a long time, but small or no response. Hesitation? Change of mind? Too many disparate stimuli in the same conversation?
  2. Too long to respond. Cornered? Uncertain?

Email or Blogs

  1. Spelling and grammar errors may indicate same things as sloppy dress. (What's the excuse when a spell check takes just seconds?)
  2. Choice of fonts, pictures and colour. (Email stationery, anyone?)
  3. Lengthy or meandering text. Lack of skill or lack of consideration for the audience?
  4. Choice of username, domain name or service provider.
  5. Speed of response. (How many posts per week, depending upon blog content? How quick or slow to respond to an email, depending upon the person and accounting for any mitigating circumstances?
  6. Use of priority or other flags, polling buttons, cc addresses.

Of course, here I'm talking about information that passes without being deliberately conveyed .

Therefore, use of all caps to indicate shouting is excluded. Yes, a smiley is a shorthand for what could also be stated in words. But its frequency, placement and lack of appearance can convey additional information.

There could be cues that I missed. Or maybe other interpretations?

Do let me know! :-)


Saturday, September 30, 2006

All book lovers, you'd adore this!

You pop your music CD into the drive and notice that the PC has recognised it from an online catalogue!

Without any further assistance from you, it copies information about genre, the band, names of individual tracks, cover design, etc. into your library and neatens everything up.

Well, why don't they have something similar to catalog your books? It seems they do.

I took Library Thing for a test drive today.

"LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth."

Source: LibraryThing | Catalog your books online

I type in the name of one book (partially) and the website locates several editions of it on One click and the book is added to my brand new online catalogue!

But that's not all. It listed several related books that people had tagged or catalogued. Oh, I had some of them too. So, click, click, click and my library grew to 15 before I stopped to check what was happening. See three random books from my collection below!

It seems people have already catalogued over 5.8 million books with them.

That would be easy to understand, except that the free account only holds 200 books.!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A hack for tags!

While Microsoft Word's AutoSummarize can hardly deliver the Executive Summary for your next report, it has its uses.

For instance, in Word Help, there's the suggestion: "It's a good idea to review the summary to make sure it covers your document's key points. "

Yes, if the machine generated summary covers the key points you want to make, you can be reasonably assured that they are presented prominently and in an accessible manner in your document.

But there's another advantage. The process of summarizing also produces a keyword list. (The keywords get written into the property sheet. Check File/Properties in the menu.)

For the 267 word Lincoln's , it suggests: "dedicate nation dead people great." Surprised? For longer documents, where it has more text to work with, it generally does better.

So here are a few things you might find useful:

  1. You can paste text into MS Word and let it suggest the keywords. It takes only two clicks to insert keywords into document properties. (See below.)
  2. If you refer to a larger piece elsewhere, copy that piece into the word document before generating the keywords.
  3. Use the automatically generated list with other words of your own to make up your tags!
  4. If you use Live Writer or Qumana, the process of converting keywords to tag is straightforward. It isn't rocket science but an automated system is easier.

The keywords for this post?

Here they are: , , , ,

I can add a few more: , , and I'm done!

Coda: “Two clicks” method for keywords

  1. From the menu choose: Tools/Customize
  2. On the Commands tab, select Categories: Tools
  3. Scroll down in the Commands list and locate: Resummarize
  4. Drag this button to the Standard or Formatting toolbar

Now when you click on the button you added, a "no questions asked" summary would be created. You may dismiss it immediately, if you wish. However, the keywords in your document would have been written into the properties sheet!

Prizes, rather than patents, as reward

The Nobel laureate  argues in favour of prizes (over patents) in New Scientist

"Patents are not the only way of
stimulating innovation. A prize fund
for medical research would be one
alternative. "

The full essay can be accessed here.

Stiglitz's views have sparked a lively discussion at Marginal Revolution. Worth a look, if you are interested in such stuff.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Be open to surprises, says Stephen J. Dubner

dubner.jpgBOONE—Be ready for surprises, says writer Stephen J. Dubner, guest speaker for Appalachian State University’s convocation Sept. 7.

The co-author of the university’s freshman summer reading selection, “Freakonomics,” told his audience that his success has been the result of a series of surprises.

Source: Appalachian News » Blog Archive » Be open to surprises, says writer Stephen J. Dubner

Dubner said that "students will find there is a gap between what they think they will do in life and what they will actually end up doing."

Okay, but aren't you supposed have a Statement of Purpose (SOP) when you approach the colleges for admission? It used to be that way when I last checked with the B-schools, admittedly a long time ago.

Now, if it's going to be unpredictable, it is a good idea to be "open to that sort of thing". But what should the rest of your strategy be? What should you do to prepare yourself as you wait for the surprises?

Any ideas about that, Dr Levitt? Or you, dear reader?

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Monday, September 25, 2006

More on: What to eat, who to marry!

In an earlier post What to eat, who to marry!, I added my two bits to the advice given by the economist Tim Harford, without reading the full post because it was for pay only. has now made the column free! You can pick the rss feed from my blogroll.

There is an interesting observation in the part that was not visible earlier:

Your best guide, then, is to consider the incentives of the food supplier. At a restaurant they will try to fill you with cheap stodge, so hold back and wait for the good stuff to arrive. But at a wedding banquet they will try to make a good first impression. Guzzle the champagne and tuck into the starter: it will all fall apart from there. You do not want to be filling up on slices of wedding cake.

Source: / Arts & Weekend - Dear Economist

At a sit down, close family and friends only lunch at a Bengali wedding, I was advised to take only a little bit from what is offered at the beginning. Because it is customary to serve the real meal in subsequent courses.

The reason? Guests from the grooms family are expected to know what to eat. The joke's on the gluttons.

Maybe I don't know this custom too well. Any other explanations?

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The ladder of success

Success is transformative. It brings change. If success didn't change anything, why would we seek it at all?

Doctors tell us that any change induces stress. And if one isn't prepared for the change, the stress can be ruinously destructive.

That's why, I guess, prayers are never answered swiftly. You need to be more prayerful to cope with what must inevitably follow if the prayers were granted. The advance practice must be necessary.

But, of course, if you work for success as well, the experience and skills developed in the effort equip you to deal with its consequences automatically.

You want to crack that exam and go to MIT? Sure. But in the unlikely event that you are granted a wild card, please, decline the offer with a prayer.

There is nothing more unfortunate than to be in a situation you were not prepared for.

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Clinical trial gone horribly wrong?

In Mobilizing Opinion, Herding Butterflies I compared trying to mobilise bloggers' opinion with herding butterflies.

While holding that the comparison remains valid, I'd like to revisit the story of the baby with one eye that Scott Carney presented at . He gave more details of the case in this post later the same evening, where he also provides a link to the original story he'd done for Wired News.

The facts, in very brief, are as follows:

It’s suspected that the child’s mother, Gomathi, was prescribed cyclopamine at a fertility clinic. (Some anticancer drugs are known to promote ovulation and have been tried for this purpose in the past.)

However, cyclopamine can cause birth defects, specifically cyclopia: the name given to the otherwise rare congenital disorder that means only one eye in the foetus.

It is irresponsible to administer this drug to a pregnant woman, much less to prescribe it for fertility problems. The question is, did this actually happen?

  1. Was the fertility clinic trying a reckless shot in the dark?
  2. Was an unapproved and unethical trial conducted, with or without Gomathi’s knowledge or consent?

Can the bloggers help unravel the truth?

If you would like to help, a good place to begin your research would be Scott's update at Finding the Birth Certificate and Cyclopamine.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Don't let it grow!

"It had to come out finally," he said, after  revealed that he had served in Hitler's elite Waffen SS.

Why did this Nobel-prize winning author feel compelled to reveal something that had been safely hidden in his breast for 60 years?

A constant pressure or irritation on skin causes the body to add protective layers. This dead tissue overtime becomes hard and itself adds to the irritation, which eventually leads to a painful corn. Once that happens, the core needs to come out before you can be peaceful again.

Probably, Gunter Grass could not put the secret out of his mind and the protective layers of rationalisation he added over the years, never really helped. Like the corn, his condition became pathological. 

It doesn't have to be a secret, obsessive thought patterns that can be the constant irritation by themselves.

How does one avoid corns? By breaking the process of their development:

  1. Learn if your skin-type (or personality) is prone to this condition,
  2. Discover the irritation early and screen if off,
  3. Remove the source of irritation. (You don't definitely need any shoes because they are stylish.)

A new shoe or perspective on life is much better than the pain of growing a corn. Never, ever let it grow.

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