Happy New Year 2015


Monday, March 30, 2009

Facts & Figures-56: "Australians, Most Propserous"

Good health, freedom of choice, political liberty, civil rights - these, along with high income, make Australians the most prosperous people, says a study.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 23, 2009.

Grateful thanks to The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Health News-23: "Green Tea for Healthy Gums"

A cup of green tea a day may keep gum disease at bay. Researchers found that among middle-aged Japanese, the odds of having gum disease declined as the men's intake of tea rose.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 23, 2009.
Grateful thanks to The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TED Talk-2: "Future of Renewable Energy" by Saul Griffith

Letters-68: "Right direction"

1. The Election Commission's direction to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to file criminal cases against Varun Gandhi, BJP's Lok Sabha candidate from Pilibhit, for allegedly making anti-Muslim speeches at a meeting is a step in the right direction. The communal overtones in the speech attributed to him have vitiated the atmosphere. He should be stopped from contesting the election. - Shahid Jamal, New Delhi.

2. Varun's speech as telecast in a few television channels was undoubtedly anti-Muslim. He has not only violated the model code of conduct but also gone beyond the limits of moral ethics. His puerile and immature speech makes one wonder whether he belongs to the same class of political leaders as Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. - R.M.Manoharan, Chennai.

3. The statements attributed to Varun are disturbing. That such heightened frenzy against the people of a community is being created in the election battlefield is difficult to digest. Although the BJP adopts a public posture of being committed to nationalism, it has been proved time adn again that it carries a heavy and dangerous agenda of divisiveness and hatred. - N.Sekar, Salem.

4. Actually what Varun Gandhi said is nothing new. His elders in the BJP such as Praveen Togadia, Narendra Modi and L.K.Advani have been saying the same kind of things for years. The question is: are such people fit to be our representatives? In our country, politicians think they are rulers, not representatives. Until that perception changes, other changes are difficult to contemplate. - M.Yawar Baig, Hyderabad.

5. It is a matter of shame that a young politician like Varun Gandhi on whom the nation has great hopes should be exploiting religion for votes. Like any other politician, he looks at the electorate as Hindus and Muslims, not Indians. - Arjun Bagvath, Chennai.

6. Varun's speech has become the focus of attention because he is Indira Gandhi's grandson. Otherwise, inflammatory speeches by politicians in public meetings are common. Leaders permit their party workers to use foul language against a community and political opponents. If it leads to trouble, they respond in an elusive manner or distance themselves from the comments and the speakers. It is time for political parties to control their cadre. - R.Prathaban, Kancheepuram.

7. Why find fault with Varun for his hate speech when every institution has been communalised? Communal elements have penetrated government bodies, business houses and even educational institutions. They are sustained and reared by political parties which want to consolidate their vote-banks. The people should reject such forces and help to defeat the communal, divisive, fascist and anti- national elements in the coming election. - Asra Kamal, Hyderabad.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 19, 2009.

Grateful thanks to M/s.Shahid Jamal, R.M.Manoharan, N.Sekar, M.Yawar Baig, Arjun Bagvath, R.Prathaban, Asra Kamal and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Letters-67: "Action Against Police"

1. The High Court makes no mention of the unruly behaviour some lawyers indulged in on February 19. There is no doubt that the police resorted to excessive force. But the trouble started after the advocates went on the rampage. They even set fire to a police station on the court premises. The Justice Srikrishna report has clearly dealt with the sequence of events that took place that day. Taking action against the police alone is not fair. - S.Kannan, chennai.

2. Now that action has been recommended against two police officers, what is proposed to be done with regard to the erring lawyers? Will the lawyers who attacked Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy in the court hall and those who burnt down the police station on the court premises made accountable for their acts? One hopes senior lawyers will strive for enforcing equality before law. - K.Ramasami, Coimbatore.

3. Are rotten eggs permitted inside the court? What action has been recommended against the lawyers who assaulted another lawyer in front of judges? Since police officials face suspension for taking steps to tackle a violent situation, can they be told how they are expected to act in the event of mob violence in future? What is the fate of the Srikrishna report? How can there be two different findings on the same issue? - K.Dhandapani, Coimbatore.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 20, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor").

Grateful thanks to M/s.S.Kannan, K.Ramasami, K.Dhandapani and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Eyecatchers-136: " Made-to-order magazine to let readers choose"

Time is experimenting with a customised magazine that combines rader-selected sections from eight publications as it tries to mimic in printed form the personalised news feeds that have become popular on the Internet.

Called "mine", the five-issue, 10-week experiment also aligns readers with the branding message that its sole advertising partner, Toyota, has for its new Lexus 2010 rX sport utility vehicle: It is as customisable as the magazine carrying its advertisements.

The magazine is free, but the print edition is limited to the first 31,000 respondents, while an online version is available for another 200,000. Sign-ups are available at http://www.timeinc.com/mine. The first issue is to be mailed in early April, and then every two weeks. Online subscribers will get digital editions that look just like the printed version, but in a special format that allows virtual page turns with clicks. A promotional push for the magazine kicks off on Friday. - AP

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 19, 2009.

Grateful thanks to AP and The Hindu.

Letters-66: "On Ragging-2"

1. The Supreme Court's observation that the time has come for cutting off financial aid to institutions that do not comply with its directions to put down ragging is sure to act as a deterrent. The college managements, it is hoped, will comply with the directions at least for fear of losing financial aid. - N.Vivekananda Rao, Hyderabad.

2. Ragging has become the worst manner of interaction between new entrants and seniors. The death of Aman Kachroo and the suicide attempt by a student in Andhra Pradesh are condemnable. They expose the indifference of the college authorities. But cutting off financial aid alone will not have the desired effect. Colleges which fail to curb ragging should be closed down. - Suman Kukal, Chandigarh.

3. Over time, ragging has evolved into some sort of organised crime. it is time to conclusively do away with the practice. Aman's death should serve as a wake-up call to society. Besides enacting a Central law banning ragging, a social movement against the practice should be launched. - Rakesh Chourasia, New Delhi.

4. The only way to end this menace is stringent punishment for not only the offenders but also those at the helm of affairs in the college. Parents can also do a lot to prevent ragging. If their children are good enough to get into professional colleges, they should understand that juniors are also human. Parent should impress this idea upon their wards. - Rebecca Thomas, Mylapra.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 20, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.N.Vivekananda Rao, Suman Kukal, Rakesh Chaurasia, Rebecca Thomas and The Hindu.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Health News-22: "Himalayan Herbs can control Type 2 Diabetes"

A Belfast-based scientist has claimed that a herb found in the Himalayan region could be effective in controlling Type 2 Diabetes. Dr.Yasser Abdel-Wahab, a senior lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster, and his team discovered that the roots of a cucumber-like vegetable - a herb found in the forests of India - and extracts from the bark of a Himalayan plant, all showed positive results in test cases.

Dr Abdel-Wahab said that following early laboratory work carried out on the Northern Ireland-based campus, researchers discovered the bark of Swertia chirayita, a plant traditionally grown in the Himalayas and also known as chirette, indicated that some compounds extracted from the bark appeared to stimulate insulin production and improve its action.

"Natural anti-diabetic drug discovery is a key area of research that is attracting a lot of interest. More research is needed to establish definitively how and if our findings could be translated into new therapeutic agents for treatments for people with Type 2 diabetes, but we are hopeful that this will one day be the case," he said. Scientists have been investigating complementary therapies that have the potential to help treat Type 2 diabetes. - PTI.

Courtesy: The Hindu, March 16, 2009.

Detailed Wikipedia articles on "Diabetes Mellitus Type 2" and "Diabetic Diet":

Grateful thanks to The Hindu, India's National Newspaper and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Letters-65: "On Ragging"

1. The death of Aman Kachroo, a first year student of the Dr.Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Kangra, allegedly at the hands of his seniors, has shaken the faith of those who are for the effective implementation of anti-ragging measures in educational institutions, especially professional colleges. The time has come to discard the term "ragging" an d substitute it with the word "torture". "Ragging" does not seem to convey the ominous consequences to which it can lead. It is still considered by many as some form of camaraderie, necessary for juniors to get to know their seniors. The law should leave no scope for doubt in the mind of the torturers about the nature of their actions. - Subhash Chander Gupta, Rohtak.

2. Aman's death makes one wonder what led his fellow students to behave in the manner they did. Who is to blame for the barbaric mentality in youngsters? Their acts of violence reflect the slackening of moral values among the younger generation. The resignation of the principal or the suspension of a few will not help to end ragging in colleges. The attitude and outlook of the youth should change. And for this to happen, they should be educated on human values. - Sruthi Appu, Bangalore.

3. The arrest and expulsion of the four students who allegedly beat Aman to death are welcome. But the legal procedure may take some time and the torture undergone by Aman will soon be forgotten. The trial should be swift and the guilty brought to book soon. The Kangra incident should serve as an eye-opener to all collgees. Instead of waiting for students or parents to complain of incidents of ragging, the college authorities should be proactive in preventing ragging on campus. Even the so-called light ragging - lime making students sing or dance - should be dealt with firmly as it eventually leads to serious ragging. - Jayanthi Viswanathan, Palakkad.

4. It is shocking to learn that ragging continues unabated despite a ban on it and the Supreme Court's direction to educational institutions to curb it. It is not the seniors alone who are to blame for what happened to Aman. The college authorities are equally to blame. Colleges in which such instances take place should be derecognised. The fear of de-recognition may be more effective in curbing the menace of ragging. - Amit Kumar, Patna.

5. Aman's death is not an isolated incident. Serious cases of ragging are suppressed by college authorities. Deaths are dubbed as suicide. In spite of the Supreme Court's orders, the mental and physical torture of freshers continues in almost all professional colleges across the country. All rational people should raise their voice against the despicable practice. A toll-free helpline should be created for the victims of ragging. - U.Kaur, New Delhi.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 14, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor").

Grateful thanks to M/s.Subhash Chander Gupta, Sruthi Appu, Jayanthi Viswanathan, Amit Kumar, U.Kaur and The Hindu.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Letters-64: "Unacceptable and Shocking!"

It was indeed shocking to read that advocates attached to various Bar Associations of Tamil Nadu burnt not only copies of the Justice B.N.Srikrishna report but also an effigy of the retired Supreme Court judge who probed the violence in the Madras High Court. The behaviour of lawyers has already attracted criticism from many quarters. A few members of the legal fraternity think they are above the law and can therefore indulge in despicable acts. They have tarnished the fair name of their noble profession. Before things go from bad to worse, the lawyers should resume work. - G.Ramalingam, Chennai.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 11, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")
Grateful thanks to Mr.G.Ramalingam and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

S&T Watch-54: "Wheel obeys Mental Signals!"

A wheelchair that obeys mental signals sent to a computer has been designed. The user, linked to a computer with electrodes on his scalp, sends a signal by focusing on the name of the destination displayed on a screen.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 12, 2009 ("Snapshots")

Grateful thanks to The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Health News-21: "Bionic eye gives blind man sight "

Ron who has not been able to see for the past 30 years is able to see now, thanks to 'bionic eye'. He is 73! The 'bionic eye' is still in experiment and may soon become available to all. For more details (video presentation from BBC, UK):


Grateful thanks to BBC.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Facts & Figures-55: "India's Power Requirements"

India's power requirements will be of the order of 3 lakh megawatts by 2020.

Source: Education Plus, Supplement to The Hindu, March 9, 2009.

Grateful thanks to The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Letters-63: "Epicentre of Terror"

1. The daring terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team confirms that Pakistan is a sanctuary for terrorists. The Frankenstein monster created by it to destroy others is now taking its toll. Unfortunately, the government is continuing to turn a blind eye to the reality and collaborating with fundamentalist forces such as the Taliban to buy peace. As a neighbouring state, India has to do a lot more to insulate itself from the lawlessness spreading in Pakistan. - Satwant Kaur, Mahilpur.

2. Pakistan is fast becoming the epicentre of terrorism. It produces and exports terrorism. It poses a grave threat to not only India but also the entire world. All countries should join hands to pressure Pakistan into dismantling the terror infrastructure on its soil. - G.Gandhi Raja, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 5, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.Satwant Kaur, G.Gandhi Raja and The Hindu

Health Facts-3: "Berries"

Berries contain plant nutrients called anthocyanidins. These are incredible antioxidants and some have high levels of resveratrol, which help fight heart disease and cancer.

Source: Chennai Times, Feb.22, 2009.

Detailed Wikipedia article on "BERRIES":

Grateful thanks to Chennai Times and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-53: "New Generation Solar Cells"

Plants' ability to turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis has been successfully mimicked by scientists at the University of Southampton to produce a new generation solar cells.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 5, 2009 ("Snapshots").

Detailed Wikipedia article on "Solar Cells":

Grateful thanks to The Hindu, India's National Newspaper and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Lettters-62: "Srikrishna Report"

1. The editorial "Telling it as it happened" (The Hindu, March 7) has rightly pointed out that Justice B.N.Srikrishna has presented an objective report on the violence involving the police and the lawyers in the Madras High Court on February 19. It is about time the lawyers realised that they cannot resort to unlawful behaviour on emotive issues and consider themselves above the law. What is worrying is the failure of the court administration to nip the unruly acts in the bud. Equally worrying is the behaviour of the police who went berserk while carrying out the order of a lathi charge. I am sure there are norms in place for executing such orders. - Paingannan Senthil Kumar, Gurgaon.

2. Justice Srikrishna has rightly castigated the lawyers for their unruly behaviour and in equal terms the police for their excess action. The behaviour of a few lawyers has brought disgrace to the entire lawyer community. When the situation on February 9 reached alarming levels, the police were left with no choice except resorting to force. The lawyers forgot that they were an important part of the elite society and they have the responsibility to follow the law. Their attempts to pressure the judiciary to act in their interests speak of the extent to which vested interests have penetrated the so-called noble profession. The lawyers who are on a war path should realise that they can no longer hold society to ransom and put the litigants to hardship. It is earnestly hoped that wise counsel will prevail upon them and they will return to work without further complicating the issue. - Nemani Vivekananda Rao, Hyderabad.

3. Justice Srikrishna's report proves that the lawyers acted as if they were above the law. The police have also come in for criticism for their high-handedness. That the very people who pray for justice and enforcement of human rights in courts violated the principles of law and resorted to unruly behaviour is unfortunate. One hopes better sense will prevail on both the police and lawyers and they will work in harmony as law-abiding citizens. - Varijakshan Edakkazhiyoor, Malappuram.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 9, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to Paingannan Senthil Kumar, Nemani Vivekananda Rao, Varijakshan Edakkazhiyoor and The Hindu.

CNN Videos-2: "US Airways Jet crashlanding into the Hudson River"

Friday, March 06, 2009

How To-55: "How to Put Together a Hard Puzzle"

How to Put Together a Hard Puzzle

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
These days, puzzles can have thousands of pieces. All of them can be done, but the question is, how long will it take?


  1. Do the border of the puzzle. This is the easiest because the edge pieces will tend to have a straight edge. Therefore, this should always be first.
  2. Separate all the pieces into groups according to their texture or color.
  3. Start putting pieces of the same group together. It should form an image. Look on the box to see where that image goes and put it there.
  4. Make all the other images shown on the box.
  5. Connect the images using the colored pieces of whatever the background is.


  • Consult the picture on the box whenever you are confused.
  • This may take a few days; you can leave the puzzle on a table until you are finished.


  • Be patient and don't get too frustrated if it's hard.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Put Together a Hard Puzzle. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

CNN Videos-1: Defeating Militancy in Pakistan

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Letters-61: "Chennai High Court Incidents: Appalling"

1. The behaviour of lawyers in the Madras High Court first when they assaulted Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy inside the court hall and on February 19, when they indulged in a pitched battle with the police on the court premises was appalling. It will be apposite to quote a passage from a celebrated decision of the Supreme Court: "The legal profession is a solemn and serious occupation. It is a noble calling and all those who belong to it are its honourable members. Although entry to the profession can be had by acquiring merely the qualification of technical competence, honour as a professional has to be maintained by its members by their exemplary conduct both in and outside the court." - M.Mahadevan, Kovilpatti.

2. When the police remained mere onlookers during the violence in the Chennai law college, they were widely criticised. And now by taking action against lawyers in the High Court, they have landed in a fix. Under which law are lawyers permitted to behave in an unruly manner? - S.Shankar, Chennai.

3. The police are a disciplinary force who are denied rights like trade unionism. It is only reasonable that they are treated fairly. In the High Court incident, the judiciary seems to be treating the lawyers with kid gloves although public opinion is critical of their conduct. - S.Rajagopalan, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 4, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.M.Mahadevan, S.Shankar and S.Rajagopalan and The Hindu.

S&T Watch-52: "Space Rock gives Earth a Close Shave"

An asteroid of a size similar to a rock that exploded above Siberia in 1908 with the force of a thousand atomic bombs whizzed past the earth on Monday, March 2, 2009, astronomers said on Tuesday.
2009 DD45, estimated to be between 21 and 47 metres across, raced by at 13.44 GMT, the Planetary Society and astronomers' blogs reported.
The gap was just 72,000 km, or a fifth of the distance between the earth and the moon and only twice the height of a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, the website space.com said.
The estimated size is similar to that of an asteroid or comet that exploded above Tunguska, Siberia, on June 30, 1908, flattening 80 million trees in a swathe of more than 2000 sq.km.
Excerpt from AFP news item entitled, "Space Rock gives Earth a Close Shave" in The Hindu, Madurai, March 4, 2009.
Grateful thanks to AFP and The Hindu.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Letters-60: "Movie with a Message"

1. When I saw Slumdog Millionaire, I was spellbound and told myself "this is an Academy Award production." The story is seen through a western perception which is why it reached the Oscars. Had it been made by an Indian, it would have been just another movie as most of the truth would have been obfuscated. Why should we cry hoarse over the exposure of our slums? The slums that were shown in the movie are nothing compared to the ones I have seen in Mumbai. Why is no one talking about the demeaning manner in which Jamal, the participant in the millionaire show, is addressed? We see it happening everywhere to persons from a humble background. I hope the movie will serve as an eye-opener to all those who copy Hollywood movies from to frame, and stars who demand crores. - Joe L.Sinnathamby, Kottakkal.

2. Slumdog Millionaire should serve as an eye-opener to our leaders who claim that India is growing fast and poised to become a superpower. There is also a lesson in it for the media, which have digressed from their basic objective as they run after money and sensation. Slumdog is a wonderful film with a wonderful message for the nation. - Shibin Joe, Kozhikode.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, February 27, 2009.

Grateful thanks to M/s.Joe L.Sinnathamby, Shibin Joe and The Hindu.