Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 September - Interesting Articles & Links

A Drug & a Hairy Woman -- https://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/doctors-chance-appointment-hairy-woman-215500968.html

Medical Devices - Duties - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Higher-duties-hit-local-mfg-of-medical-devices/articleshow/43834255.cms

Things Little Girls Need from their Fathers -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joyce-mcfadden/things-little-girls-need-from-their-fathers_b_3348956.html

Drones record protests in HK -- http://mashable.com/2014/09/29/drone-hong-kong-protest/

Modi at Madison Square  (S. Vishwanathan, AsianAge) -- http://www.asianage.com/columnists/how-madison-danced-modi-playlist-142
Modi is like Amar-Akbar-Antony -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joyce-mcfadden/things-little-girls-need-from-their-fathers_b_3348956.html

Gene Revolution - The Antecedants -- http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/shreekant-sambrani-gene-revolution-the-antecedents-113012200098_1.html
- Junk Science vs. Pseudo Science

- Ali Baba - Jack Ma - Still poor at 35? -- http://vulcanpost.com/7702/jack-ma-youre-still-poor-35-deserve/

Don't Go Scotland! -- http://scroll.in/article/679581/%5BVideo%5D-US-comedian-John-Oliver-breaks-down-the-Scottish-independence-debate

* The Economist and Slavery -- Rebuttal -- http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/economist-review-slavery-110687.html#ixzz3CgupojIy

* TRAVELLER IN A MARINE WORLD -- Mahima Jaini, Marine Scientist -- http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/traveller-in-a-marine-world-114082900872_1.html

* Indian scholar wins Marconi Society's Young Scholar Award -- http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/indian-student-at-stanford-receives-marconi-society-young-scholar-award-114090200433_1.html
- Earlier, India-born Stanford University Professor A J Paulraj had won the 2014 Marconi Prize, for his pioneering contributions to developing the theory and applications of MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas.
- Both, Prof, Paulraj and Asnani would receive the awards in Washington D.C. on October 2, 2014.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Orwell to Al Qaida

George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" (1938) is an interesting read. For a book written before WW-2, it has a very contemporary feel, especially at a time when the Western press is full of indignant outrage about the wholehearted participation of their own citizens in Al Qaida and ISIS.

A few days ago ISIS brutally beheaded the second US journalist it had captured in Iraq / Syria. The executioner had given his two bits about Jihad in British accented English with a dagger flashing in one hand.

Osama bin Laden and his deputies may have lived in caves, dodged smart-bombs and married local women in Afghanistan. Orwell, on the other hand, went to fight his Jihad against fascist dictators in a more relaxed manner. He sailed across the Straits of Gibraltar with his wife to the Catalan coast, lodged her comfortably at the Continental Hotel in Barcelona, and then got himself enrolled in a local militia called the POUM.

After ten months in the trenches, he came away with a nasty wound. A sniper had shot him clean through the neck, damaging his vocal chords and missing his jugular by a millimeter. So he returns to Barcelona, recuperates, does a bit of street-fighting, picks his wife from the hotel, drives across the border to France, and to safety.

What was Mrs. Orwell doing for 10 months in the Barcelona while her husband was away on the front? Who paid the bills? The book is less than eloquent about all this and more.

If some the 'foreign fighters' in Al Qaida or ISIS got around to writing their own stories, I guess it would not be very different from 'Homage to Catalonia'.


* Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) 
* Book -- PrintAsia 
* Wiki --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homage_to_Catalonia
* Fighting a war in the neighborhood - Turks in ISIS / Syria -- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/16/world/middleeast/turkey-is-a-steady-source-of-isis-recruits.html 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bionic Limbs

The 'Jaipur Foot' looks so far away...
An amazing video on the latest bionic limbs -

Insect Season

It has been an unusual combination of summer and monsoon this year. The dry heat lasted for a lot longer in May-June, and then, after a few showers, most of the rainfall happened in August-September.

Last year, at the Sector-105 park in Noida,  all the Arjuna trees were loaded with plump, green, Tussar Silkworms. This year there were none. Instead, we had some other unusual guests.

(All ids by Shaku @ Florida-U)

Parthenium beetle, Zygogramma bicolorata, Family Chrysomelidae.

Common Silverline, Cigaritis (Spindasis) vulcanus, Family Lycaenidae
Note the "false head" at the back of the wings - excellent defense mechanism..

Common Silverline (top view)

Flower beetle, Mylabris pustulata .  Family Meloidae (blister beetles or oil beetles, because they secrete a pungent, oily substance when attacked, that might cause blisters in predators body; feed on flowers, so also called flower beetles ).

Most likely, Small Cabbage White, Pieris rapae, definitely Family Pieridae. These are really delicate, and lose their, already pale, wing coloration very fast, its usually difficult to find a fresh and intact specimen.
Treehopper, (possibly, Centrotus sp.), Family Membracidae.  Fascinating little insects, also called cow bugs (horns, obviously), or thorn bugs. 
Indian or Asian Honey bee, Apis cerana indica
Common emigrant, Catopsilila pomona (Family Pieridae) 

Lemon or Lime swallowtail, Papilio demoleus
This one seems to have lost part of its wings to a predator!  The bottom part of the wings have red or orange, eye-shaped spots that often serve as a defense mechanism, to fool predators.  So the predator attacks from the tail end of the butterfly, and gets only the wings, while the butterfly can escape!  This is one of the papiolionid butterflies that does not have a tail-like extension to its wings (that give the family its name - swallowtails).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Remembering Borlaugh

Last year, India set a new record in wheat production -- 95.85 million tonnes. This took the total food-grain production in the country to 264.38 million tonnes - another record in itself. To put the figures in perspective, consider a simple fact: At the time of independence we produced just 6 million tonnes of wheat.

All this we can trace back to the vision of one man - Norman Borlaugh.

As a young American plant pathologist he went to Mexico in 1944 to help fight hunger. Fifteen years of research in classical, selective breeding led him a dwarf variety of wheat which not only resisted rust, but also had a new plant gene that made them shorter with sturdier stalks which were able to withstand the weight of more abundantly grained wheat ears. His efforts resulted in a six-fold increase in Mexican wheat production.

The Indian government invited Borlaugh in 1966, at a time when the country had been reduced to a basket-case by successive droughts. He came in with a sackful of Mexican  wheat seeds. The rest, as they say, is history -- and the Green Revolution.


* Tribute - http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/tribute-to-a-saint-who-did-miracle-with-wheat-114091200028_1.html
*Gene Revolution - the Antecedents - http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/shreekant-sambrani-gene-revolution-the-antecedents-113012200098_1.html