Happy New Year 2015


Friday, November 28, 2008

Eyecatchers-122: "Two Million Books/Articles/Images in Public Domain!"

A news item in the Newscape section of The Hindu, Madurai edition of November 21. 2008 caught my eye. It was about the Europeana Digital Library, which was launched on November 20, 2008. It had to be closed after it was swamped by Internet users. Then I went to their website (www.europeana.eu). Swamped is right. 10 million hits per hour! Naturally they had to close down. However, they have offered to come up with a robust version by mid-December.

In the meanwhile some info about the Europeana project.

Europeana is a search platform for a collection of European digital libraries with digitized paintings, books, films and archives. The project was initiated by the European Commission. The Library contains around two million digital items, all of them already in public domain.

I repeat for the sake of bloggers, all the 2 million items are in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, which means you can use, re-use, distribute, re-distribute, excerpt and probably modify also; of course, with ncessary credit/attribution. Sort of bonanza, what you think!

The project aims to have 10 million works by 2010, when Europeana is due to be fully operational.

Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Open Access-6: "Open Access and the New Possibilities Offered by Digitization"

As open access takes on strength and visibility, new possibilities appear. The capacity to link documents together constantly grows in importance. Linking research articles with their underlying data is also being increasingly discussed. Researchers are not yet used to sharing data with others. But, with computers, new forms of exploitation of vast corpora of documents and data are becoming possible. Even a perfunctory use of Google makes this point clear. In the end, one may even wonder whether the venerable article and the mode of publishing it has generated for the last three and a half centuries will make sense much longer in the new environment.

In the end, exactly as Origen has taught us, the changes in communication technologies shift our relations to documents and transform the meaning we ascribe to their existence. If this is true, then it is time to go back to fundamentals. Fundamentally, science is open knowledge and its energy flashes out of the shock of ideas. The end result of this fundamentally agonistic activity is a critical edition of sorts, always striving to reach perfection, yet never ended or ending. Seen from on high, science is little more than an endless concatenation of texts that correct or refute each other, topic by topic, argument by argument, fact by fact. One might say, however scandalous this might sound at present, that science is a kind of Wikipedia, but a Wikipedia where attribution is closely monitored and where participation depends on credentials. If this characterization of science succeeds in capturing some of its essence, it becomes legitimate to ask whether the researcher will still be an "author" of "articles" 30 years from now. The author form is a child of print, and authorship is different from attribution. Whether authorship will still be needed in a few decades is a question well worth asking.

The answer is far from certain....But a choice remains before us: will scientists and scholars finally recover the control over the tools needed for their great conversation, or will it increasingly be taken over by commercial interests? This is what open access is all about....

Excerpt from "Digitizing and the Meaning of Knowledge" by Jean-Claude Guédon, Academic Matters, October/November 2008.

Posted by Peter Suber in "Open Access News" at 11/22/2008 01:28:00 PM

Grateful thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon, Academic Matters, Peter Suber and Open Access News.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Health News-8: "Insulin in Spray Form"

The Chief Executive Officer of the Generex Biotechnology Corporation of U.S., Anna Gluskin, launched the world's first Recombinant DNA human insulin buccal spray nationally in Kolkatta on Monday (November 17, 2008).
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 18, 2008 ("Snapshots")

Wikipedia articles on "RECOMBINANT DNA" and "INSULIN":


Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Letters-56: "Campus Violence"

1. Students get emboldened and resort to arson and hooliganism because of the support and protection from political parties and caste leaders. Even students who want to study earnestly are denied a healthy atmosphere or dragged into caste politics. Unfortunately, police hesitate to take action as it can culminate into a serious law and order problem and the opposition can exploit the issue. Though condemnable, the police inaction in the law college episode must be seen in this context. - Tharcius S.Fernando, Chennai.

2. True, the police inaction is unacceptable. But had the police swung into action and the exigencies of the situation constrained them to use force resulting in the death of even one student, vested interests would have seized the opportunity. Many more lives would have been lost, not to mention the torching of scores of buses. The task of the police is delicate and difficult indeed. - G.M.Jeyabalan, Sattankulam.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 18, 2008 ("Letters to the Editor").
Grateful thanks to M/s.Tharcius S.Fernando, G.M.Jeyabalan and The Hindu.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eyecatchers-121: "What is happening in Sri Lanka?"

I came across an open letter from Mr.Douglas Devananda, Secretary, People's Democratic Party of Eelam, in the Tamil daily, 'Dinamalar'(Madurai, November 16, 2008 - prominently published in the second page). It makes one wonder what is really going on in Sri Lanka. I am furnishing below some excerpts from that open letter.

1. 95% of the Sri Lankan Tamils live in the area under the control of the Sri Lankan government; only 5% of Sri Lankan Tamils are living in the area which is under the control of LTTE. Even most of these people would like to get out of the clutches of LTTE but they are restrained forcibly. The LTTE is using them as a shield to protect itself.

2. It is the habit of LTTE to seek peace when its position is weak to buy time to re-equip itself for war again.

3. Even Hitler, who is considered to be the worst dictator the world has ever seen, did not kill his own people. But LTTE has killed and has been killing its own people.

4. LTTE has no faith in democracy.

5. Gandhiji chose the path of non-violence to fight the British and Subhas Chandra Bose the path of arms. Yet Bose never thought of murdering Gandhiji. LTTE supremo Prabhakaran is not like that. LTTE has systematically eliminated other Tamil leaders who fought for the Tamils either through the democratic path of non-violence or the path of violence like the LTTE. Thus it has killed thousands of elder Tamil statesmen, experienced Tamil politicians and fellow-fighters.

6. Intelligentsia who disagree with LTTE, people who question their path, people refuse to pay the tax imposed by LTTE and persons who refuse to take up arms to fight for them meet with violent end.

7. Even the LTTE cadres who question the measures adopted by LTTE are destroyed.

8. LTTE has forcibly abducted Tamil youth from their homes and trained them to fight the war.

9. Tamils issue and LTTE issue are two different issues.

If the above are true, then the people of Tamil Nadu are being taken for a ride by the Tamil Nadu politicians. Why there is so much hue and cry? Are the Tamil Nadu politicians using the Sri Lankan Tamil issue for their own selfish ends and to divert the attention of people from real burning problems like rampant corruption, spiralling price rise, alarming power cut leading to closure of many factories and rendering thousands of workers jobless, student unrest and caste violence?

S&T Watch-37: "Tricolor on the Moon!"

The Moon Impact Probe (MIP) onboard Chandrayaan-1 successfully ejected and landed on the lunar surface. With the Tricolor painted on its sides, the probe marks the presence of India on the moon. India thus becomes the 4th member of the elite club.
Source: The Hindu, Madurai, November 15, 2008.
Detailed Wikipedia article on "MOON IMPACT PROBE":
Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Facts & Figures-57: Inflation down to 8.98%

The Tamil daily Dinamani, Madurai, reports that the country's inflation rate has come down to 8.98% as of November 1, 2008.
Grateful thanks to Dinamani.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Facts & Figures-56: "Bimonthly Electricity Bill, Rs.1,02,468!"

I came across this news in a Tamil daily. The Minister for Power of the Govt of Tamil Nadu, Arcot Veeraswamy has informed the Tamilnadu Legislature that the electricity bill for the residence of former Chief Minister, Ms.J.Jayalalitha for two months was Rs.1,02,468 and that of the Chief Minister, Mr.M.Karunanidhi, Rs.15,000.

One wonders how many persons reside with Ms Jayalalitha and what are all the gadgets they have, to consume so much electricity! Especially when you remember her speech about 'plunging Tamil Nadu in darkness'. Is not conserving power by minimising the consumption the responsibility of all of us, especially our leaders?

Osama, Obama and Omama!

Aravind is my pet and I have written about him and posted his photos in this blog several times. His latest antic is, he has started calling me, 'Omama'.

'Mama' in Tamil means 'Uncle'. So he generally addresses me as 'mama'. Now suddenly he has started addressing me 'Omama'. He is an avid TV watcher. Nothing escapes his keen eyes and ears. He has been listening on TV about Osama and recently Obama. Tamils have a great weakness for alliteration. It is probably in his blood too. Now he insists on calling me 'Omama'. I told him that Osama and Obama stand at two extremes like north pole and south pole and I am a nobody, somewhere in between. He assured me that did not matter. So I am 'Omama' to Aravind. I think it is okay.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Letters-55: "Violence on the Law College Premises"

1. The TV images of the clash between two groups of students on the Dr.Ambedkar Govt Law College campus, Chennai, were spine-chilling. I have never seen someone beaten to unconsciousness. It is hard to believe that those involved in the violence are students; worse still, they are supposed to get justice for the common man in future. Police may not have the jurisdiction to enter a campus without the principal's explicit request. But common sense and humanity should override legalities during incidents such as the one that took place on Wednesday. - C.G.Senthilkumar, Sunnyvale.

2. It was shocking to watch policemen stand as mute witnesses to the violence on the law college premises. Of what use is a probe into an incident when the guardians of law and order - who can prevent it - watch as if they are helpless? If policemen cannot stop a criminal act taking place right in front of them, what is the need for a police force? - P.Balavinodan, Coimbatore.

3. The gory scenes of students clashing among themselves with logs and stones were rattling. The fact that those who indulged in the violence were students who were supposedly being groomed to become legal luminaries is indeed unfortunate. They should perhaps undergo a course on peace education before being taught law. - R.Sampath, Chennai.

4. The clash on the college campus is a pointer to the declining values of education. Once again the police failed, remaining a mute witness to the incident. - B.Arun, Palladam.

5. The police inaction is highly condemnable. One really wonders what is the purpose of posting a posse of policemen outside the campus was. The excuse that they were waiting for the principal's permission is unacceptable. - N.Ramakrishnan, Chennai.

6. The incident was a manifestation of caste prejudices. It was awful to see the police watching the incident like passers-by. - A.G.Rajmohan, Anantapur.

7. The sight of a student bearing the brunt of the save and brutal attack by a group of stick-wielding students was gruesome. Equally painful was the stoic inaction of the policemen on the spot. No law-enforcing authority can remain passive when brutal acts like place right under its nose. There can be no second opinion that those responsible for the violence should be dealt with strictly under the law. - V.Ganesh, Chennai.

8. It was shocking to see the brutal attack on college students by none other than their own college mates, right in front of the police. The government will have to explain to the people why the police did not act. Some officials have been suspended. But the right thing to do would be to terminate their services and freeze their retirement benefits so that such inaction does not recur. The students who indulged in the cruel attack should be punished severely. They deserve no mercy. - N.Manoharan, Coimbatore.

9. I strongly condemn the rowdyism indulged in by the students. The most agonising scene was that of the policemen who could have prevented the violence. The future lawyers behaved like thugs, venting their ire on an unconscious student beating him almost to death. They should be punished severely and barred from pursuing education. - Rajendra Kumar, Chennai.

10. One feels sad about the lack of discipline and tolerance among students. Politicians have succeeding in exploiting the student population for their ends. Using them as pawns, they have split them on the basis of religion, caste and other factors. They have also taught the students to indulge in violence, arson and group fighting. The result is what we saw on Wednesday. Although the police knew the trouble was brewing, they stood as spectators. Their explanation that they waited for the college authorities to permit them to enter the campus is unacceptable. - K.Venkataraman, Mumbai.

11. The incident raises many questions. Is violence taking over our lives? Is it becoming a way of life? How did the students carry weapons into the college? What was the college administration doing? Was it not aware of the brewing trouble? Why did the administration not call the police in? Who is to blame for this and similar incidents? Politicians who spread caste violence? Police who act only on instructions of higher officials or politicians? The education system? What sort of lawyers are we going to see in the next few years? Lawyers who fight their cases in court or settle cases by violent means? - R.Mohan, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 14, 2008 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.C.G.Senthilkumar, P.Balavinodan, R.Sampath, B.Arun, N.Ramakrishnan, A.G.Rajmohan, V.Ganesh, N.Manoharan, Rajendra Kumar, K.Venkataraman, R.Mohan and The Hindu.

Health News-7: "World Diabetes Day"

To counter the alarming rise of Diabetes world over, World Health Organization and International Diabetes Federation have started observing November 14 as World Diabetes Day as the first step in combatting diabetes is creating an universal awareness of the dangers ofr diabetes.

What is special about November 14? It is the birthday of Frederick Banting whose concept led to the discovery of insulin and so in his honour the particular day has been chosen.

The adage 'Prevention is better than cure' is very true of Diabetes. Because, as of now, there is no cure for diabetes. It can only be controlled but not cured.

So creating an awareness of diabetes is very important to prevent it. As for diabetics, since there is no cure, the most important steps are changing their lifestyle and taking proper medical care. Negligence could result in serious trouble as diabetes is a silent killer. It has been found out that excess sugar in blood could permanently damage small blood vessels in the heart, eyes and kidneys, which could result in heart attack, blindness and kidney failure respectively.

Some of diabetes statistics are highly disturbing and scaring:

(a) One person is dying for every 10 seconds in the world.
(b) Two new diabetic cases are identified every 10 seconds in the world.
(c) 7 million new diabetic cases will be identified by 2025.
(d) 80% of diabetics in the world will be present in developing countries like India.
(e) India is the Diabetic capital of the world.
(f) It is not now a disease of rich people. It is a disease of sedentary people with unhealthy diet habits.
(Source: http://www.diabetesnews.in/2006/12/diabetes-statistics.html)

World Diabetes Day has a different theme each year. This year the theme is "Diabetes and Children and Adolescents".

I am a diabetic, who has been pretending all controls for others only and who does not have much faith in allopathy. A recent check-up has put inside me a little fear. My fasting sugar is more than 200 and postpradial, 292! I do experiment on myself, knowing fully well that I am playing a dangerous game. Now I have decided to be more strict with myself and have actually started putting into practice stringent measures.

1. Regular Walk 2. Regular exercise 3. More vegetables (specially recommended for diabetics) and ragi and wheat products and less rice. 4. Regular AUT 5. Regular intake of Herbs and Herbal powders 6. Drinking a lot of water, especially in the morning on empty stomach (Water therapy) 7. Regular check-up.

Take care, don't fall a prey to diabetics! Now I have got more statistics, which you can see for yourself:

Today more than 17 crore people in the world are diabetic. By 2020, this figure would jump to 37 crores. Every year, 70 lakh people become diabetic. Every year 38 lakh people die of diabetes. Every year 70,000 children become Type-I diabetic. (Grateful thanks to Mr.P.Alaguraju and 'Dinamani', Tamil daily, November 14, 2008).

Detailed Wikipedia article on "WORLD DIABETES DAY":

About World Diabetes Day:

Diabetes Day : Global Events Round-up from NowPublic.com:

Defeat DKA and save lives:

Diabetes and Children:

Detailed Wikipedia article on "DIABETES MELLITUS":

Diabetes Information Hub:

American Diabetes Association:

Grateful thanks to DiabetesNews.in, WorldDiabetesDay.org, NowPublic.com, DiabetesInformationHub.com, American Diabetes Association and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Letters-54: "Lessons from the US Presidential Election"

The US and India are the two biggest democracies in the world. The people and political parties in India should, therefore, learn a few important lessons from the just concluded American presidential election. Our parties should rise above considerations of parochialism, caste, religion and other divisive forces.

As for the people, they should give importance to the merits of the candidates, based on their record of service, integrity, and experience. The elected and the defeated candidates should respect each other and refrain from mud-slinging. The media should create awareness among the people on all these aspects. - T.Ramaswamy, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Tiruchirappalli, November 12, 2008 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to Mr.T.Ramaswamy and The Hindu.

Eyecatchers-120: "Mars Lander dies in Arctic Dust Storm"

NASA has lost contact with the Mars Lander, bringing an end to the Phoenix mission five months after the spacecraft became the first to land in Mars' arctic plains and sample water on another planet.
A raging dust storm has blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels. The craft's demise was not unexpected. With sunlight waning and winter encroaching the arctic plains, scientists had said that it was a matter of time before Phoenix would freeze to death.
Since its landing in May, Phoenix has sent back a bonanza of scientific discoveries, such as the confirmation of ice on Mars. -
Excerpt from the article, "Mars Lander 'dies' in Arctic Storm" - The Daily Telegraph" from The New Indian Express, Tiruchy, November 12, 2008.
Detailed Wikipedia article on "Phoenix" with color photos:
Grateful thanks to The Daily Telegraph, The New Indian Express and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-37: "Unique Odourprints"

I came across a news item in The New Indian Express (Tiruchy edition, November 12, 2008) which says every human being has a unique fragrance like a fingerprint or DNA, quoting the Daily Telegraph. According to Jae Kwak, who conducted the study at Monell Chemical Sciences Center, Philadelphia, USA, this means that biologically-based odourprints like fingerprints could be a reliable way to identify individuals. A database of human odourprints could be created.
Grateful thanks to The Daily Telegraph and The New Indian Express.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eyecatchers-119: "Wedding in the Sky!"

'Jumping' into Marriage
Couple wed in first 'Bungee Ceremony' in the World!

A couple married 150 feet in the air before celebrating with a kiss at the end of a bungee jump. Sandra Eens and Jeroen Kippers, both 25, became the first people in the world to marry suspended high above the ground in a specially converted cradle. They were watched by 10 close friends and relatives as they took their vows in front of a minister before going over the side and locking lips upside down. Directly below them was the marquee where the party then enjoyed a wedding reception. The pair paid over ₤7,000 for the privilege of being the first customers of new company, Weddings in the Sky.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Tiruchy, November 12, 2008 ("Vignettes")

Detailed Wikipedia article on "BUNGEE JUMPING":

Grateful thanks to The New Indian Express and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Letters-53: "A Lesson or Two"

A more significant aspect of Mr.Obama's landslide victory was Senator John McCain's gracious concession speech. Mr.McCain was full of praise for Mr.Obama, recognised the new era in American politics and offered full cooperation and support to the President-elect. Is not this so striking contrast to the Indian situation where those who lose in the elections allege corruption and rigging in the voting process? The losing political parties generally look for the earliest opportunity to topple the government, demand imposition of President's rule and ask for mid-term polls. - S.N.Krishnan, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 6, 2008 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to Mr.S.N.Krishnan and The Hindu.

Letters-52: "Dr.Martin Luther King's Dream Realized!"

A biracial man with an African father, an Indonesian stepfather, with the middle name Hussein and last name Obama, having a family in Kenya is what everyone today calls the most powerful man on earth - the President of the U.S. Martin Luther King's dream has at last been realised. - Srimathi Venkatachari, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 6, 2008. ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to Srimathi Venkatachari and The Hindu.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Photo Album-30: "Suri at the Taj Mahal"

This photograph makes me feel nostalgic. It was taken by a professional photographer who makes a living by taking photographs of visitors to the Taj Mahal. It is more than 30 years old and was hiding itself between the pages of a book, when I came upon it.

I was on a 23-day All India conducted tour by one Kumaran Travels of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. From Madurai, Tamil Nadu, we went up to Srinagar in Kashmir. On the way back, we visited Delhi, Agra and other places. The entire trip was performed by a bus.

(The photo taken at the Delhi residence of the then Prime Minister, Shri Morarji Desai, I have already posted in this blog.) From Delhi we went to Agra. We left Delhi in the early hours and were inside the Taj as soon as it was opened for visitors. So I look a bit tired. Further, the photo has faded as it was kept inside a book and was forgotten for a long period of time.

This memorial to his Queen Mumtaz Mahal by Emperor Shah Jahan, which is one of the seven wonders of the world, evoked a feeling of awe in me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Random Thoughts-16: "Cluttering, Uncluttering and Decluttering"

I take pride in calling myself a booklover and book collector. But my family members have different ideas and call me by different names, which I prefer not to mention here.

I have been collecting books from my childhood. For a person who does not own a house and who is compelled to shift house periodically, this could be a real headache. Under these difficult and painful circumstances, however best I tried, limiting and preserving books was becoming a great worry.

During the course of my life (I am nearing 60), I have hardened my heart and parted with a lot of books out of desperation, despair and dejection. Yet I was accumulating more books and paper-cuttings than I was getting rid of. The painful part of it is the volume of my reading was going down all the time. So it is obvious I was accumulating more cud than I can chew.

The other painful thing is when I wanted something, more often than not I was finding it difficult to locate it. I would be pretty sure that I have the required material with me, still I would not be able to lay my hands on it. It is as good as or as bad as not having it.

What to do?

Sometimes friends are helpful in this regard. They borrow books and never return them. Here the crunch is I have only a limited number of friends. For this sake I can’t develop new friendships.

My wife and children were and are making my life miserable by threatening to throw out everything, if I do not get rid of, well in their language, ‘the junk’ myself. I started having nightmares of finding my room barren with the books having vanished from there.

Then I came across this article in time.com: “How to live with just 100 things”
Very interesting article and if you are like me, a must read and I hope even otherwise everyone reads it. That is how I came to know about Dave Bruno and clutter-free living and goal-oriented minimalists and SHED (acronym stands for ‘Separate the treasures, Heave the trash, Embrace your identity from within and Drive yourself forward’).
Dave Bruno’s online musings caught the attention of a lot of people (obviously there a lot of people like me) and suddenly the Net erupted with websites and articles on decluttering.

When I looked up ‘declutter’ in Google, it came up with 1,170,000 results for declutter in 0.25 seconds! Hats off to you, Google!!

Some of the results from Google are really very interesting and innovative. I am citing a few examples for your kind perusal, in the fond hope that you also will like them and maybe you may also try to declutter your home.

1. How to Declutter Your Home:
2. Declutter Your Home Fast and Save Yourself from Embarrassment by Ricky Liang : http://ezinearticles.com
3. Declutter Forum: http://www.amazon.com/tag/declutter/forum
4. Declutter 15 minutes a day: http://www.43things.com/things/view/113682/declutter-15-minutes-a-day
5. Get Organized Today with Free Tips Booklet: http://ineedmoretime.com
6. Cut Clutter: http://organizedhome.com/articles/cut-clutter
7. No More Clutter, Declutter Your Home: http://www.myhouseandgarden.com/declutter.htm
8. How to Live with Just 100 Things: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1812048,00.html
9. Ask the Experts: 5 Steps to Clutter-Free Living: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1812185,00.html?iid=redirect-declutter
A detailed and directly relevant article to this topic I came across in Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding. As usual, Wikipedia is very informative and I picked up a few valuable points from there also.

Now, don’t ask me whether I have decluttered my room. As always, implementation is hardest part. Hope I shall get around to do it sooner or later.

Grateful thanks to Time.com, Google and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Letters-51: "Obama's Historic Win"

1. The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America is a historic global event for more than one reason. He won on a positive note. He never appealed to the narrow sentiments of race or region. He believed in and stressed on the oneness of America throughout his campaign. His strong academic background helped him to project himself as a statesman with a liberal outlook. He is not arrogant like his predecessor. May our political leaders too develop the vision of oneness and give up vote-bank politics. - G.Sankara Bhanu, Hyderabad.

2. The epoch-making election of Mr.Obama is perhaps the second earth-shaking event in the American history, after the abolition of slavery. That the descendant of a social class once frowned upon and socially boycotted should rise to the top post in the U.s. is indeed a miracle and testifies to the wisdom and sagacity of the Americans. Both the Democrats and the Republicans should rejoice at this historical happening, for it is beyond party politics. - K.P.R.Iyer, Bangalore.

3. Americans told the world that for them, it is the personal qualities of a leader that are more important than anything else while choosing a President. They are more worried about job losses, high taxes and the outsourcing of jobs, which the President has promised to control. - P.K.Jayanandan, Kozhikode.

4. Never since the release and election of Nelson Mandela has there been such euphoria worldwide. The victory is not just of an African-American but of the spirit of liberty and equality. Mr.Obama is not an individual but a phenomenon heralding the changing consciousness of Americans and the rest of the world. -Joshua Kalapati, Chennai.

5. Mr.Obama's victory has proved that racism has been buried deep and a political leader must be above race, religion, caste and creed. When will our country choose its leaders in an election that is free from the considerations of caste and religion? - E.Rajakumar Arulanandham, Palayamkottai.

6. Mr.Obama's victory is a moral victory for all Americans who believe in equal rights, the need for change and democracy. The expectations and responsibility that go with his victory are high. - Sumathi Chandrashekaran, Chennai.

7. Three cheers to the people of the United States! By electing an African-American to the highest office, they have set an example to the racially prejudiced westerners and the caste-conscious Indians. - Sixtus Thundathil, Kottayam.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 6, 2008 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.G.Sankara Bhanu, K.P.R.Iyer, P.K.Jayanandan, Joshua Kalapati, E.Rajakumar Arulanandham, Sumathi Chandrashekaran, Sixtus Thundathil and The Hindu.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Letters-50: "Terror in Assam"

1. The Assam bomb blasts, coming close on the heels of eight other blasts across the nation, are a traumatising shock. India's political will to combat terrorism indeed seems half-hearted. Given the wave of blasts, the government seems to have a dreary attitude in confronting the menace. Our children are petrified to go to malls and travel by trains. - K.Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore.

2. The blasts show the perpetual organising capability of terrorists. Stringent laws, a will to do away with vote-bank politics, and a modernised police force with a vigilant civil society alone will curb such inhuman acts. - Saheed Dhiranka, Palwal.

3. It is difficult for a person who has not lost his kin to a bomb blast to understand the grief caused by the explosions in Assam. It is always the common man who pays the price for such frenzied attacks. The protest staged by lawyers and the locals explains that they too are tired of assurances and compensations given by the government. Gloomy days are ahead if minority appeasement policies of the Centre continue. - Mahesh Singh, Vellore.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, November 1, 2008. ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.K.Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore; Saheed Dhiranka, Palwal; Mahesh Singh, Vellore and The Hindu.

S&T Watch-36: "Making Objects Invisible" by Biman Basu

Biman Basu
From DREAM 2047, October 2008, p.26-27.

Fans of Harry Potter may be familiar with the concept of an invisibility cloak. As its name suggests, the invisibility cloak renders Harry invisible. Of course, Harry is a fictional character and so is his invisibility cloak. But it may not be too long before the idea becomes a reality. The first steps towards achieving that goal have already been taken. Materials that could one day make objects invisible to visible light have been devised by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, USA.

It is well known that when light passes from one medium into another it bends. While passing from a lighter medium to a denser medium a ray of light normally bends towards the normal. The refractive index describes the way the light waves bend when they enter and leave the material and the speed at which they propagate. The refractive index of normal materials is always positive, e.g., 1.0003 in air, about 1.5 in ordinary glass, 2.1 in zircon, and 2.4 in diamond.

In the mid-1990s, some scientists realised that it could be possible to construct artificial materials in which the refractive index could be negative. The trick was to assemble an array of components that resonate with the electric and magnetic fields of the light waves as they pass through. It was known that these materials would be unlike any conventional substance; hence they were dubbed "metamaterials". Metamaterials are artificially engineered structures that have properties, such as a negative refractive index, not attainable with naturally occurring materials.

Although discovered only six years ago, materials with negative refractive index have been the target of intense study, drawing researchers from physics, engineering, materials science, optics, and chemistry and two breakthroughs in the development of metamaterials were reported separately in the online of Nature (13 August 2008; doi:10.1038/nature07247), and in Science(15 August 2008).

In Nature, Xiang Zhang and colleagues of the University of California, Berkeley, report creation of a 3D optical metamaterial made of cascaded 'fishnet' structures, with a negative index existing over a broad spectral range. The materials can reverse the natural direction of visible and near-infrared light and could help form the basis for higher resolution optical imaging, nanocircuits for high-powered computers, and, to the delight of science-fiction and fantasy buffs, cloaking devices that could render objects invisible to the human eye.

The metamaterial described in the Science paper by the same authors takes another approach to the goal of bending light backwards. It is composed of silver nanowires grown inside porous aluminium oxide. Although the structure is about 10 times thinner than a piece of paper, it is considered a bulk metamaterial because it is more than 10 times the size of a wavelength of light. The authors of the Science paper observed negative refraction from red light wavelengths as short as 660 nanometres. It is the first demonstration of a bulk media bending visible light backwards.

For most of the applications routed for metamaterials, such as nanoscale optical imaging or cloaking devices, both the nanowire and fishnet metamaterials can potentially play a key role. While the researchers welcome these new developments in metamaterials at optical wavelengths, they also caution that they are still far off from invisibility cloaks and other applications that may capture the imagination. For instance, unlike the cloak made famous in the Harry Potter novels, the metamaterials described here are made of metal and are fragile. According to the researchers, developing a way to manufacture these materials on a large scale scale will also be a challenge.

Grateful thanks Mr.Biman Basu and Dream 2047.

Facts & Figures-55: "4.34 lakh cases pending in Madras High Court!"

A Law Ministry report states that 4.34 lakh cases are pending in the Madras High Court.
Courtesy: 'Ananda Vikatan', Tamil weekly, November 5, 2008.

Monday, November 03, 2008

How To-42: "How to Write a Speech"

How to Write a Speech

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

As you hang up the telephone, the icy fingertips of panic grip your stomach; your heart races. Your most recent project was delivered on time, within budget, and is approaching payback one year ahead of schedule. As a result, your Industry Association wants you to address their annual convention. Relax! They believe you have something to offer. Here are some steps to ease your palpitations.


  1. Remember that all great speeches, and even some not so great, require shape. The old saying is hard to beat: "Tell them what you will tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them."
  2. "Shake hands with the audience." You have something worthy of being said. Former Ambassador Robert Strauss used to begin his addresses like this: "Before I begin this speech, I have something to say." This passage was always composed in a style that enabled him to reclaim a powerful tone for the instructive portion of his remarks. Put on your smile; calm your nerves, then get to work. You may want to start with a smashing one-liner or an anecdote.
  3. Rise to the occasion. In other words, feel passionately about your topic. Recall old Uncle Ned's tear jerking toast at the wedding? Even ordinary folks can deliver great moments of oratory if they rise to the occasion. Make sure the audience feels how important the topic is to you, so that they begin to think about why they should care.
  4. Build clear and sensible transitions (segues) from one thought to the next. The biggest mistake speakers and writers make is to assume people will follow their leaps of logic. Spell out to the audience when you are taking a turn in your thoughts with phrases like: "As an example of this" or "This brings us to the larger problem of," and so forth.
  5. Focus. A "great" speech does not need to start out great and stay great to the finish. It engages the listeners. It makes allowances for a dip in interest in the middle. Then, it gathers anticipation for its key moment. John Stuart Mill, the political economist, defined the orator's art this way: "Everything important to his purpose was said at the exact moment when he had brought the minds of his audience into the state most fitted to receive it."
  6. Add purpose. A speech should be made for a good reason. To inspire, to instruct, to rally, and to lead are noble purposes. To sound off, to feed a speaker's ego, to flatter, or to intimidate are not.
  7. Know your theme. If you cannot answer the question "what do you want to say?" in a single, declarative sentence, do yourself and the audience a favor: decline the invitation.
  8. Write with one particular person in mind, someone you actually know. This helps you to keep the message real and personable. This helps you anticipate reactions and keep your language down to earth.
  9. Deliver the goods. Delivery is the essence of eloquence. It requires practice, discipline, drill, and timing. You can be your own trainer. As you develop self-confidence, you put the audience at ease, or make them sit up. Your eye is in contact with the people, not the page. If looking at people makes you nervous, look between them, at the clock on the back wall, over somebody's shoulder - as long as it seems you're making eye-contact. Your professional passion is contagious. Use gestures to emphasize points, and make sure your tone of voice and facial expressions are appropriate for the topic.
  10. Illustrate. Illustrations can come in the form of slides, visuals, stories, jokes, or dramatic gestures. Your goal is to make some portion of the speech stick to the mind of the audience--if someone asks about it afterwards, they should say something like, 'I enjoyed the story Tom told about his sister,' or 'The pie chart of this year's earnings was helpful.'
  11. Give your audience a sense of completion. Bring them back to the beginning, but with a louder spirit. This can be done by starting the last paragraph with a quiet, declarative sentence; it should build in a series of semicolons; it should employ the puissance of parallelism; it should reach to the farthest rafter and reverberate with the action and passion of our time, and, forgetting all else, it should connect with, no, grab each listener by his or her lapels and shout to their hearts and souls to say, "This is the end of the best speech you will ever have the good fortune to experience!"


  • You may experience instant, sustained applause punctuated by the occasional "Bravo" and the ever-present pundit punk who wrinkles his brow and wonders aloud, "But what was really said?"
  • Each person in the audience experiences your speech as an individual. Speak to them as individuals, by using words like "you" and "your" instead of "all of you" or "everybody here"; it is more direct and compelling, and will engage each member of your audience, whether it be five or five thousand.
  • Focus your attention on one individual at a time, just as you would in normal, everyday conversation. This will help to relax you, and mitigate the fear of speaking to very large crowds. Shift your focus around the room, to different sections of your audience. By including every area, even when you might not be able see them individually, each person will feel as if you are speaking directly to them, not at them.
  • Most speakers deal with the eye contact issue by twisting their body from side to side. They look from side to side as if watching a tennis match. Don't make this mistake. Make eye contact using comfortable, natural body and head movements with purposeful glances at different areas.
  • Smile from time to time but refrain from grinning like an idiot.
  • Consider your audience's frame of reference. A simple way to do it is to think about: Who's in the audience? Why are they here? And after hearing your speech what's the first thing you would like them to do or say to someone else perhaps?
  • Don't read your speech. Speak it from memory. You may miss a couple minor points (and even a major one), but if you can't remember it long enough to say it, why would anyone else remember long enough to act on it?
  • If you are not a seasoned speaker, it is fine to read your speech as long as your delivery isn't stilted and amateurish like a kid reading from a textbook. You may not have time for memorization. If not, don't be embarrassed to read your speech. Getting your message out counts the most. Look up and smile from time to time to let the audience know you haven't forgotten them.
  • Almost everyone can remember an early experience when they were obsessed with memorization and suddenly drew a blank. It can derail a speech. Be comfortable with your subject and have the bullet points on a few 3x5 cards. Relax and don't be anal about flawless delivery; people probably won't hold it against you.
  • Use a dramatic pause to emphasize an important point. Stop talking for a second and look as if you are pondering your next words.
  • Vary the speed of delivery and the loudness of your voice. Talk faster and louder when moving on to a new thought. Speak slowly and lower your voice for emphasis.
  • Act as if you lived for this one speech your whole life and give it your all
  • You can fight off stage fright and fear of failure by knowing your subject. Having a commanding knowledge of your topic will show in you, just like not knowing your topic will show-even more so.
  • Practice your speech with someone else if possible, and ask him/her for input.
  • People say "Thank you" to signal that, yes, the speech is over. It is a very weak ending to a speech. You really shouldn't thank the audience, any more than they should thank you. You have given the audience a significant experience and they have given you their polite (or enthusiastic) attention. Call it even.
  • Let the final, forceful sentence be the natural ending of your speech. Signal the end simply by smiling and stepping away from the lectern or podium. If you didn't use a lectern (always a good idea), smile and wave, take a bow, or move to shake hands with someone to signal the end of your dazzling performance. The speech itself might have been a snore fest but at least you'll have a polished exit.
  • If the speech is followed by questions/answers, it's OK to come BACK to the podium or front of the room when the applause dies down. You don't have to stay up there.
  • If you are delivering a eulogy or some other solemn address, ditch the smile. Keep your voice and expression solemn and serious at all times. Just emulate a newscaster when they are bringing sad news.
  • Legendary Actor Anthony Quinn used this technique to give him confidence before an audience: Imagine a ray of energy emanating from deep in the earth and radiating up through your heels, up your spine, and then throughout your body. Keep this image in the back of your mind as you deliver your lines (er, speech).
  • If you have a lot of time to practice, you can develop some gestures. Gestures are better than keeping your hands in your pockets or folded with the fingers laced. However, if your gestures are awkward and distracting, keep your hands in your pockets.
  • Watch JFK's inaugural address for pointers on gestures. JFK invented stabbing your closed hand forward while touching your thumb with your curved forefinger. Every major politician now uses that gesture.
  • Think hard before incorporating flip charts or a dry-erase board into your presentation. For one thing, you don't want to poison the air with the dreadful fumes emitted by dry-erase markers. Eventually you will find yourself talking to your flip chart and not the audience. The audience will be distracted by your scribblings or watching you fumble with your exhibits. Insecure speakers like stage props because they take the focus off them. Whatever best suits you.
  • Who better to write your introduction than you? Before your speech, contact the person who will be introducing you and give them your introduction. Unless they are a total creepazoid, they will be thankful that you saved them the chore of drafting your introduction.
  • Be conscious of ummms and ahhhs. Speakers use these as filler for pauses, to let people know they haven't finished their thought. They make you sound hesitant and unsure, however. Too many ummms and ahhhs get to be annoying. It's OK to let silence intrude on your sentence. When you wean yourself of ummms, ahhhs, and y'knows you will be taking a big step toward effective public speaking.
  • Avoid a sing-song delivery, especially the mannerism known as "uptalk." Uptalk is ending sentences and phrases with a question mark? Not only is it annoying? It makes you sound immature? And very unsure of yourself? No one will be able to stand to listen to you?
  • Start writing as if you are creating an essay or informative article. When you are comfortable with your draft, read it aloud. Listen to a recording. The style should be different than a typical essay or article. You can't have paragraphs that drone on. Rather than pack your talk with boring facts and figures, give them a handout (AFTER your talk). It's OK to repeat or revisit important points for emphasis.
  • The type of event you attend will determine the length of your speech. Consider that the average speaker speaks 100 to 135 words per minute. Below are sample speech lengths:
    • Standard keynote speaker: 18 - 22 minutes (est. 1800 to 2970 words)
    • Motivator: 12 - 15 minutes (est. 1200 to 2025 words)
    • Ceremonial speaker: 5 - 7 minutes (est. 500 to 945 words)
    • News conference: 2 - 3 minutes (est. 200 to 405 words)
    • Wedding toast: 2 - 3 minutes (est. 200 to 405 words)


  • Don't be a windbag. Time your speech in a few practice runs. If it goes more than five minutes you had better be a spellbinding speaker. The typical amateur speaker will have the audience checking their watches after about three minutes. Remember, Abe Lincoln only needed a minute or two for the Gettysburg Address.

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Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Write a Speech. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How To-41: "How to Build a Social Life as a Senior Citizen"

How to Build a Social Life as a Senior Citizen

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

When a mature person loses a spouse, a close friend, or even a pet, it can be very easy to lose perspective on life. It is all too easy slip into sadness and seclusion and stop relating with people who once filled an important part in daily life. Children (if any) have often moved away and are frequently so heavily involved in their own lives, with work, children and other obligations that they cannot spend a lot of time with their aging parents. Although experiencing loss and loneliness as a senior citizen is difficult, it is not impossible to develop a new social life. A good attitude is a major factor, as is making most of the opportunities that come your way. Here are some ways that you can begin to build a fulfilling social life for yourself that will help you to live meaningfully and with purpose.


  1. Determine what activities you used to enjoy. Did a loss cause you to set aside favorite hobbies or pursuits? Pick them up from where you left off. Or try new activities with the help of a local club, group, church or even through Internet and library research. Use the local newspaper to keep abreast of upcoming events of interest. Visit university lectures on topics you know nothing about to stretch your imagination and improve your knowledge. More ideas are suggested in the Tips below.
  2. Return to keeping fit. While climbing Mt. Everest may no longer be in the cards, there is certainly nothing stopping you from continuing physical activities involving walking clubs, senior's gym or other fitness activities made available especially for seniors. Staying fit is a sure way to build confidence and regain a healthy outlook on life.
  3. Find a buddy. If you feel reluctant to go out on your own, there are many volunteer organizations that will help by providing transportation. Invite a friend or neighbor to attend events with you. Get back into the rhythm of meeting new friends. Little by little, you'll become less fearful of going out alone.
  4. Be open to new suggestions. This may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if it involves new technology. Consider trying new activities that are possible given your level of health and fitness, and that you find interesting. Try not to react negatively to suggestions from others who try to help. Think things through before rejecting the ideas altogether. You may discover something you wished you'd tried earlier.
  5. Become a mentor for younger people. Young people are eager and willing learners when they discover that you have knowledge that you are willing to share. Offer your services at local clubs to give talks, to teach a skill or to guide people (museums, zoos, parks etc.). Elderly people are respected for their knowledge; capitalize on this by sharing it.
  6. Remain positive. The pain will always be there; that is the nature of loss. You deserve the best after giving so much of yourself to the world. Smile when you're feeling down. Smiling induces positive chemical changes in the brain and brings us back up. Take in a light movie or rent an old classic to watch at home. Listen to comedy on the radio, check out a humorous book or two from the library and have a good hearty chuckle. Rediscover your sense of humor and your well-being will improve; this is all the more important if you have buried yourself under a load of sadness, self-pity and sorrow.
  7. Think outside the square. Research the Internet for stories of the more challenging things senior citizens are doing; cycling across countries, skiing, writing a first novel, entering the Masters' Games etc. All these things and more are possible with the right attitude. You are as old as you let yourself be; your dreams are as expansive as you let them be. So, what about all those things you promised yourself you'd do someday? Maybe today is that day.


  • No matter what you're doing, always offer to help others, and don't be afraid to ask for help, either. In pursuing new activities and knowledge, you can build a social life simply by sharing your newfound zest for life.
  • Here are some ideas for activities:
    • Book clubs: Scan the bulletin board at your local library or book store for book clubs that meet periodically and share opinions about a particular book or author.
    • Golf: Visit a recreation golf course in your area. Hit a few balls on the driving range to see if you like it. Inquire with the program coordinator or on-site pro about groups of other seniors that may need another member. If there are not senior groups, be proactive and start one!
    • Learning new cuisines: Many communities have a retail store that specializes in cooking utensils, books, and offer cooking demonstrations or classes. Small groups of food and cooking enthusiasts are formed and their members become fast friends by sharing ideas, recipes and “touring” dinners at each other's homes; even touring a country for its cuisine is not out of the realms of possibility. Move beyond the cuisine you've always made and try something completely different.
    • Sewing/Knitting/Crochet/Quilting: These timeless activities are always great hobbies. Check out the local craft or fabric shop for postings on clubs or groups that share these hobbies. Or offer to teach - your skills are in high demand from younger generations rediscovering their utility and relaxing nature.
    • Gardening: This can almost become a job as much as an activity, depending on how much you want to do. Whether it’s just puttering around a small flower bed, or becoming an expert on roses and orchids; gardening is a very popular pastime. Garden clubs abound and many cities have a community garden where individuals maintain their own plot within the garden to plant, nurture and harvest their favorite growing elements. If you are already an experienced gardener, share these skills with others by giving demonstrations or mini-lectures through clubs or botanical gardens.
    • Scrapbooking: You are sure to have years of photos and memorabilia that tell your life's story! Introduce yourself to this popular activity by attending a scrapping party or taking a class at your local craft retailer.
  • Visit your local senior center. Take a trip to learn what activities are offered; something is certain to tickle your fancy.
  • Further ideas you might like consider include:
    • Season ticket packages for concerts and/or plays.
    • Painting
    • Building bird houses, making doll clothes, volunteering at your hospital or shelter.
    • Adult education classes. Perhaps you'd like to learn about computers, or obtain your high school diploma or degree. Many facilities offer physical classes such as low-impact jazzercise or yoga.
    • Volunteer at the library to teach adults to read.
    • Join a chess or bridge club.
    • Reading and story-telling to youngsters at the library.
    • Join wikiHow and write or edit articles.


  • Know your physical limitations. Consult with your personal physician prior to beginning a new physical activity.
  • If you have difficulty with your eyesight and reading, first ensure that you have the best possible medical attention and eye examinations. Get the most suitable eyeglasses for your needs. Ask for books with large print; these are available at many libraries. It is also possible to increase the size of the font on your computer and Internet; ask someone for help if you cannot work out how to do this yourself.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Build a Social Life as a Senior Citizen. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How To-40: "How to Entertain Kids"

How to Entertain Kids

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

More than ten ways to entertain your child or others' for $10 or less.


  1. Tell a story. Read a favorite book or make up a story together. It's even more fun to use stuffed animals as the characters in a story.
  2. Tell a joke. Learn a simple magic trick.
  3. Sing a song together.
  4. Blow bubbles. Mix two quarts of warm water with 1/4 C. Dawn or Joy dish washing liquid and 1 Tbsp. Glycerin and then use funnels, canning jar rings and anything else you can find for bubble blowers. Turn the backyard into a bubble festival.
  5. Visit a neighborhood park, the library, a pet store, a Japanese garden, a berry patch or a children’s museum. Take along a picnic.
  6. Keep a collection of interesting rocks, dried flowers, pennies or a jar of worms. Put six worms in a jar half-filled with soil. Cover the soil with some old leaves. Keep the jar in a cool place and wrap with dark paper to keep the light out. Unwrap the paper to peer at the worms. Keep the dirt moist by sprinkling with a few water drops every few days.
  7. Grow. Plant fast growing scarlet runner beans seeds. Grow a sweet potato vine. Put the narrow end of a sweet potato in a glass of water and wait three weeks. Keep the water clean, change as needed. Once the potato sprouts move it to a sunny window.
  8. Build a play house of cardboard boxes, a fort made of card tables and blankets or sheets or a ramp for toy cars with an ironing board.
  9. Explore. Take a walk on the lookout for bugs, flowers or anything that catches your eye. Lift rocks. Peer into puddles. Take along a magnifying glass, eyedropper, small plastic spoons, ice cube tray, tweezers, flashlight and jars with lids.
  10. Camp. Pitch a tent in the backyard and sleep outside. Look up at the stars. Gaze at the moon. Imagine. Tell stories. Giggle.
  11. Play with water in wading pools, washtubs or sinks. Paint with water on the sidewalk, patio, fence or house. Make mud pies or sandcastles. Mix half a box of cornstarch with a cup of water to make a fun cornstarch goo. Use funnels, spoons, cups, scoops, buckets and bottles.
  12. Make finger jello, frozen bananas, frozen orange slices or easy “ice cream” sandwiches. Combine plain or vanilla yogurt with peanut butter to a good consistency for spreading. Mix well, spread between two graham cracker squares. Store in containers and freeze.
  13. Give a child an hour of your time for free time fun. They’ll keep you busy. And love you for it!


  • Be a good listener to the child.
  • Ask the child what the rules are to games - they'll be inventive, and besides it's easier for you to learn their rules than vice versa.

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Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Entertain Kids. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How To-39: "How to Design an Effective Newspaper or Newsletter"

How to Design an Effective Newspaper or Newsletter

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

A basic overview about how to lay out a good-looking, well-structured page using desktop publishing software. A primer on information architecture, layering and all the other things that will help people read the words you put on the page. This is not a how-to on using desktop publishing software.


  1. Open a desktop publishing program. Quark XPress and Adobe InDesign are the most popular. Much design is done on Macs, but that's not always the case. And now, with Boot Camp, that line is sure to get blurred even further. Anyway, Quark or InDesign are the most professional, most flexible publishing programs. Are you on a broadsheet or a tabloid? Or an 8 1/2 x 11? Good news is, design principles apply to every page size. There are some small differences, but not many.
  2. Organize. Plan your content. What is the most important story? The next? The next after that?
  3. Consider your "art."
  4. Know -- and use -- a grid. 5 columns. 6 columns. 4 columns. Mind you, a 10 column grid is really a 5 column grid that allows for 1/2 columns, and a 12 column grid is 6 columns with 1/2 column slots. 1/2 columns can be useful for running information boxes, mug shots, etc.
  5. Keep the design on the grid. What does this mean? For example, on a 6 column grid, run a story over 3 columns and another story over 2 and a story over 1.
  6. Think about the centerpiece. What is the dominant story the grid -- either through rules (thin, usually .5pt black lines) or through images or logos or boxes. The centerpiece is an anchor.
  7. Create a dominant headline. Consider 60pt, even 70pt, but probably no less than 52pt for the most important story. The hierarchy of story headlines should be at least 6pt difference. If the biggest story is 52pt, the next highest should be 48, 42, 36 and so on. Some consider 10pt, or 8pt to be preferable.
  8. Back to the photos -- dominant vs. secondary. Hopefully, a photo editor will make that call, but if not, what photo advances the story the best? Look for emotion, dynamics and movement, unusual angles and intense or intimate moments. Then play them big. Don't be afraid of, say, 4 columns wide on a 6 column grid. Huge? Yes. Worth it? Yes.
  9. If you have multiple photos, the second photo should not be greater than half the size of the dominant. If the main image is 4 columns wide, the secondary should be roughly 2. Maybe 2.5. Not 3. 1 Might be too small. Strong headline order + big photos = strong, basic page.
  10. Add layering. What is layering? See tips.
  11. Have someone else look at the page. A copy editor, for example, to proof the headlines and layers and body copy for, hopefully, minor errors like grammatical mistakes. You never know what factual errors may come up, and as a designer, its usually not your job to "proof" a story.
  12. Send the page to press.


  • You'll be given stories to lay out. While you may not be responsible for "proofreading" them for grammar, you had better be sure to read them. You will be able to add context and information -- your design will be more informed. This is critical: newspaper design is an architectural thing, not really a paint-pretty-pictures thing.
  • Avoid lumping photos in the ubiquitous, non-descriptive "art" category. Consider "photos" and "graphics." But many editors etc. do call it all "art."
  • Grids allow a mass of empty newsprint to take on an organizing form.
  • Headline hierarchy is essential to a well-organized page. Without it, how will a reader know what is important and what's not?
  • Research respected publications and compare how they do layout, Often a proven method is what readers expect - this is a great source for Daily Newspaper Covers
  • To layer: Add subheds, or "decks," or "dropheds." These are two three or four lines of additional display type -- 20-24 pt -- that add context to the hedline. You can run them 1 column deep, or on the other extreme, you can strip them all the way across a page. They allow readers to get a better grasp of the story while doing a lot less work than reading the whole story.
  • Add infoboxes. Pull information out of the story and bullet-point it; bold key numbers and explain WHY these numbers are so important. Readers want information quickly; breaking it out for them is simply doing your job.
  • Mug shots are good for identifying who the players in a story are. Mugs are small, 5p-6p-7p sized headshots. Crop tightly. Add a sentence or two giving context about who the mug-ee is and why they are being featured. Mugs run this way function as additional layering -- information pulled out, brought forward, thrust in front of the eyes of your readers.


  • Photoshop cutouts can be awesome -- they add a powerful dynamic to a page. But be very, very, very careful about how and when you apply this technique. Photoshopitis is common.
  • You only really need one headline font. One body copy font. One infobox font. Maybe another variant for cutlines. More fonts doesn't make anything better.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Patience
  • Stories, photos

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Design an Effective Newspaper or Newsletter. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

S&T Watch-35: "Brain's Role in Obesity"

Reuters reports of a scientific study of milk chocolates carried out at the Oregon Research Institute which throws more light on the link between brain and obesity. When you eat, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine in the brain's reward centres. The amount of pleasure you derive from your food depends on the amount of dopamine released in your brain. In simple terms, if the response is blunted, you get less satisfaction. To derive more satisfaction, naturally you eat more, which leads to obesity.
Detailed Wikipedia article on "DOPAMINE":
Grateful thanks to Reuters and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.