Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gift Giving

Gifts are given in all seasons. Some gifts are for all seasons while there are gifts that are special to specific occasions. From Chinese new year, to Valentine, to national days, to birthdays, to christmas, to halloween and new years; they have special meaning for different types of celebration.

It's the Chinese new year, the biggest festival for Chinese . You'll see lots of red packets and oranges given away with colourful dragon dances amid loud drumbeats where crowds of people come to soak in the festive atmosphere. Valentine is quite a personal affair for expressions of love to one another and blooming flowers would be in high demand. Designer goods, greeting cards, chocolates and big-time parties would go for birthdays. You'll see horror fiction come alive in halloween, while christmas has become a commercial affair to promote tourism in several countries.

If you have a writer friend do you give a book and the latest food recipes to your food loving friend. Selecting gifts in this manner may not provide the best value for your friends. chances are that your writer friend has already bought the latest fiction, and he is more knowledgeable than you about books unless you are also a great book lover. Why not give what you really want and can give with love and sincerity.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ali Honoured at World Economic Forum

Mohamed Ali is honoured at The World Economic Forum , this time for his efforts to promote dialogue and understanding between the Muslim and Western world.

Muhammad Ali born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, as well as one of the world's most famous individuals, renowned the world over for his boxing and political activism. In 1999, he was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and is considered by many to be one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.

At the peak of his carrier, he was called up to serve his country in the Vietnam war. He refused to do so, citing he so no reason fight Vietnam. For this, the government prosecuted him for draft dodging, and the boxing commissions took away his license. He was idle for 3 1/2 years at the peak of his career. In 1971 the Supreme Court ruled that the government had acted improperly. He bore no ill-will against the governement, instead reclaimed his championship in the ring.

Britain's former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, who is on the Council of 100 religious leaders who honoured Ali, recalled Ali's boxing career and his public acknowledgment of having Parkinson's Disease.

"Who among us was not stirred and moved ... as he lit the flame at the start of the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta?" he asked.

Indeed, Mohamed Ali has made an indelible mark which go down as one of the greatest sporstsman and a unique human being.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Liberty Quotes

"The government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. The financing of all public enterprise, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. Money will cease to be master and will then become servant of humanity."
-- Abraham Lincoln(1809-1865) 16th US President http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Abraham.Lincoln.Quote.B712

"I, however, place economy among the firstand most important republican virtues,and public debt as the greatestof the dangers to be feared."
-- Thomas Jefferson(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US PresidentSource: letter to William Plumer, July 21, 1816 http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.1156

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country.A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit.Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation,therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men.We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completelycontrolled and dominated governments in the civilized world.No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."
-- Woodrow Wilson
(1856-1924) 28th US President1916Source: in reference to signing the Federal Reserve Act in 1913http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Woodrow.Wilson.Quote.51CE= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =WHAT DO YOU THINK? Rate these quotes!http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/DailyQuotes Click open the quote you wish to rate, and enter your comments.

Time's All-Time Best 100 Movies

Here's the list.

The Year Of The Dog Is Here

Chinese Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It consists of a period of celebrations, starting on New Year's Day celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, i.e. the day of the second new moon after the day on which the winter solstice occurs. The Chinese New Year period ends with the Lantern Festival, on the fifteenth day of the festival.

Chinese New Year is celebrated internationally in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese. A reunion dinner is held on New Year's Eve where members of the family get together for celebration. It is a time of reunion and thanksgiving. New Year's day is also celebrated within the family. Usually family members gather on the morning of New Year's Day. It is at this gathering that red envelopes are given to unmarried members of the family.

Astrology in China is based on the cycle of the moon as a result of which each New Year begins on a different date every year. And each year is named after an animal.

Legend has it that, on New Year, Buddha called all the animals to make an appearance before him. Only 12 of them did so. First came the rat, followed by the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, dog and finally the pig. Buddha honoured them by naming a year after each one of them. People born in that year would have the characteristics of the animal it represented.

Thus evolved the Chinese system of astrology.

The year of the dog begins on January 29, 2006.

Based on your date of birth, find out which sign you belong to.

The Rat: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996

The Ox: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997

The Tiger: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998

The Rabbit: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999

The Dragon: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000

The Snake: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001

The Horse: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002

The Sheep: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003

The Monkey: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004

The Rooster: 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993

The Dog: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994

The Pig: 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995

Happy new year, goodluck, peace and prosperity to everyone.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

This Robot Can Help You At Home

According to this article, robots - named Promet - are being developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and can run errands. They are designed to respond to verbal instructions and are capable of capturing three-dimensional images of objects and locating them through an infrared sensor.

These robots can hit the market soon. Japan which leads the world in robotics already is extensively using robots in manufacturing and entertainment although they look less like human. The human like Promets will compete with us and give us a run for our money. They will either help us out or push us out in some areas of employment. The contest of 'man versus machine' will explore new horizons. We already have seen how IBM's Deep Blue, beat the grandmaster Russia's Garry Kasparov in 1997. For more details click here and here.

Artificial Intelligence will make it possible for these robots to be smarter and more intelligent than some of us. It wouldn't be too far fetched to think that the robots can easily solve some of our problems which we continue to create for ourselves and for the world we live in. You can imagine their audacity which will come as a punch on our face. But for this to become reality, they have to be born out of our best brains.

There's A "Celebrity Block" In Davos

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Situated among the snowy Alps Of Switzerland, World Economic Forum is the place to discuss and debate regarding the major social and economic problems of the world . Every year leaders of the most powerful countries and representatives of the top corporate world, invited to this forum negotiate and close deals with one another. Whilst business and political leaders make up the majority of participants, NGO leaders from groups such as Amnesty International, Transparency International, Oxfam and various UN organisations attend,as well as trades union leaders and religious leaders.

One of the pastimes for journalists is to spot the stars and celebrities among the vast array of leaders from all walks of life. Increasingly entrepreneurs like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Michael Dell , Sir Richard Branson and Bono of the music group U2 together with other celebrities are stealing the show. Even football legend Brazil's Pele who is campaigning against the problem of rascism on football grounds was spotted around. This year, Bill Gates announced his foundation is boosting its contribution to the tuberculosis fight. It's already given 300 (m) million dollars and plans to contribute a total of 900 (m) million by 2015.

One of the biggest celebrities at the World Economic Forum in Davos is the Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie. When you have stars like Michael Douglas, one of Hollywoods biggest movers and shakers, it is no wonder that people jam the corridors to catch a glimpse of them. Get a more comprehensive feel of the meeting from this BBC article.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kidman Chosen As UN Goodwill Ambassador

Nicole Kidman the Australian actress has been chosen to advance women's rights around the globe in her new role as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N.

Working with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Kidman, 38, will focus attention on "critical gender concerns such as ending violence against women," according to a Thursday press release from the U.N.

Since the 1950s, U.N. agencies have enlisted the help of prominent personalities from the arts and sports worlds to highlight key issues.

Actress Angelina Jolie is serving as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N.'s refugee agency, and has traveled widely promoting the agency's cause.

These prominent personalities and celebrities help to bring the issues of the under priviledged to the forefront and are able communicate those concerns using their status and goodwill.

In the same manner everyone of us can make a difference and enrich the life of another individual. We just need the will to do it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In Search Of Freedom Or A Better Life?

Human beings have an inherent nature for freedom. They love freedom as a social state and demand it as their right. The society they live in requires that they respect the freedom of other people.

Whether man can be truely free or not is a question that seeks answers from a religious or philosophical perspective, depending on which side a person stands. Human beings are endowed with free will to choose their actions and they are held resposible for them.

People living in a communist or totalitarian state have freedoms that are dictated by the state and the state decides what political and social freedoms people ought to have. The state has a monopoly over ideology and morality which they enforce upon their people by strict rules and regulations.

In countries that embrace democratic forms of government, their people have more freedom through their participation in the political process. Thus people have political , social and economic freedom and choose to live the kind of life they want within the bounds of the law which is made for common good.

If look back into history, we find numerous cases where countries and their people have fought for freedom against colonization and other forms of subjugation. Sometimes the battles and wars have been bloody with untold misery and millions of lives lost. Amid the horror of wars, we do have examples of people who stood against unjust laws and human brutality.

Mahathma Gandhi's name comes as an example of a person whose passive resistance against the British rule India, eventually won independence for his country without a single bullet being fired from his side. His did not have an army and did not seek weapons to secure peace. But he was able to bring profound political and social change through non-violent means.

Gandhi drew inspiration the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy whose works include " War and Peace" a novel depicting the Russian society and is regarded as one of the world's greatest novels. He too believed in nonviolence as a tool to achieve political and social goals. Martin Luther King, Jr. the famous US leader of "The Civil Rights Movement" believed in nonviolence and for his work as a peacemaker he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964. Thus, it is not only large armies and an arsenal of deadly weapons (including chemical and biological) that can win over causes and resolve conflicts, but the power of nonviolence and resistance has proved that it too is equal to the task.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

World's Tallest Towers 2006

Human beings have always had a fascination for monumental buildings as we see from the history of Rome, Greece, Egypt, India and China. In the modern day urban living, countries are going for buildings that are scraping the skies. Modern methods of structural engineering and super-fast lifts have made this possible.

Click here to see the world's tallest buildings by continent given on Forbes.

Doing Business With Socratic Talkers

Socrates was an influential thinker and used reasoning and logic as tools to win over conversations with opponents. Socrates explored intellectual independence to ask questions as a method of inquiry, now known as the Socratic method. More on Socrates here.

Businessman who use the Socratic method are concerned with analysis of details. If you come across a salesman who is a Socratic, don't be overwhelmed by his talk. That's the way he knows how to operate. He would probably throw more words at you than you can hear.

If on the other hand you want to sell something to a Socratic, provide the person all the information you have about the service or product on offer. Then ask, if he or she needs more information.

Socratics enjoy playing the role of a philosopher. They are not keen to get into tangible elements of a situation. They are famous for engaging in monologue speaking, often verbalizing their entire thought process. They have to hear what they are thinking before they can make a decision. They speak first to themselves, not necessarily to others.

So, if you are doing business with Socratics, be patient and a good listener. The reward for doing that may be the business deal which you may want to clinch. If this sounds easy; try being a good listener and you'll know the answer.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What Is Our Strength?

Our strength lies in our personality. It is more than brute force of character. Our strength lies in our ability to influence others and get things done. The greater our social interaction with others, the greater is our strength.

Let us take the example of mahathma Gandhi. He was educated in India and London. He practised law in India and South Africa. He returned to India in 1915, and later lead a campaign to free India from the British rule. He did not have an army, wealth nor an office. But he was a peoples person. He adopted a simple lifestyle and he revived cottage industries like spinning and production of hand woven cloth.

In 1930, he led the salt march against the salt tax imposed by the British. He and thousands of his followers walked over 300 km and extracted salt from the sea. The force of non violence that he preached was stronger than the might of the British, who ultimately freed India and gave independence. More on Gandhi here.

"Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." - Gandhi.

Every person we come in contact with in life will have some mark on us. Regardless of our financial station in life, we should mix freely with people, drawing positive energy and moving forward. It is a great experience that we get to enjoy during this lifetime.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Temple Of Doom

Archeology has an exciting and romantic side to it when archeologists go to look for secrets and uncover ancient civilisations, religions, and cultures with painstaking precision and care.

The above picture taken from national geography shows the gory image of an ancient excavation of a Moche culture ritual of a human head being held in the hand of another human being. This is a bone chilling experience, to say the least.

Moche civilization was a South American culture along a 300 mile-stretch of the Peruvian coast between 100 and 800 AD. Archeologists still wonder in amazement of the Moche pyramids and their monumental palaces. This link gives a time line of the Moche civilization.

We do not know how the people of this ancient civilization came to an end. But archeologists have found evidence of flooding and earthquakes, possibly a series of El Ninos which destroyed the Moche irrigation systems vital for their farming.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Time To Recycle Graves,. In South Africa

According to this Independent Online artice, the Municipalty in Durban, South Africa is running short of burial space in their towns cemetries and is thinking of introducing drastic steps to solve this problem. A surge in HIV/Aids related deaths and a scarcity of land has exacerbated this problem.

Presently the lease period for burial space is for ten years. The authorities are thinking of multiple burials on top of each other and this is sure to cause a huge uproar.

Expert on Zulu culture Reggie Khumalo said recycling graves remained taboo among Zulus and Africans in general, simply because people attached respect to a grave as "a final resting in peace" for loved ones

"It's also important to mention that among Zulus we tend to believe that our loved ones who have departed are still with us - hence the practice of speaking to the graves when important cultural rituals have to be performed," said Khumalo.He said that people would find it difficult to speak to their departed loved ones if someone else completely unrelated to the family were in the same grave.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Space Tourism: The New Frontier To Explore

Humans need to explore. We've been doing it upto now venturing across every nook and corner of this earth, from arctic ice to tropical forests to sub sahara to the deep sea and lakes still looking for the fifty feet monster called "Loch Ness", a name derived from the lake in Scotland which has now become a major tourist attraction.

For the super rich, they can afford to explore beyond the vast beauty of this maginficient earth, its wonders, its cultures and its diversity of life and its people. Well, here comes Space Tourism.

If Virgin Airways boss and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has his way, for a cool $200,000 the super rich will be able to enjoy the fun of a space journey. Branson who is known for his daring stunts including jumping off from hot air balloons has formed his company Virgin Galactic to provide the weightless ride by 2008. The lucky ones would'nt have to hold on to their seats any longer. Read more here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Brokeback Mountain" Has Unleashed A Storm

The religious bigots in US have bared their fangs. The demons of intolerance are out in full force with their swords drawn out: their target, Golden Globe Awards and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The golden globe award for the best film last year went to Brokeback Mountain. This is an epic love story and is claimed to be Ang Lee, the Tawanese born American film maker's best film. Many of his films have focused on the interaction between modernity and tradition.

Brokeback Mountain played against settings in Texas and Wyoming shows the sufferings of two heterosexual male partners in separate marriages that are drawn to each other. Their dalliances with each other intesify their relationship and wreck their marriages.

A furious debate on marriage and gay rights and civil unions is sweeping across the United States with uncompromising fervour. Larry Miller who owns several businesses and Cinemas in Utah has refused to put this film in his cinemas as stated in this article.

Without delving into the scholarly view of the instituion of marriage in christian theology, surely all parties can be hospitable to each other. Beating the daylight out of the Brokeback Mountain without even appreciating the cinematography of the film seems a bit disingenuous.

When The Court Plays God!

An article in The New York Times reports that the highest court in the State Of Boston ruled Tuesday that the state can withdraw life support from Haleigh Poutre, an 11-year-old girl who has been in a coma since September, and whose adoptive mother and stepfather are accused of abusing her.

Haleigh, of Westfield, Mass., was hospitalized on Sept. 11 with a brain injury and multiple bruises, burns and cuts. Her aunt Holli Strickland, who adopted her, and Ms. Strickland's husband, Jason Strickland, were charged with assault, but Ms. Strickland died in an apparent murder-suicide after charges were filed.

The state Department of Social Services, which was granted custody of Haleigh, successfully petitioned a juvenile court for permission to remove life support. Mr. Strickland challenged the state in court, asking to be considered Haleigh's de facto parent and to be allowed to argue for keeping her alive.

With the Court's decision to remove her feeding tube, doctors advise that she will die within a few hours of the tubes removal. The Court's decision fuels the existing debate on ethical and moral grounds whether it is appropriate for a Court to decide in a medical end-of-life decision. Many feel that rather than keeping her in a vegetative state, she should be allowed to go with dignity.

But who should make this decision??

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Martina Hingis Is Welcomed Back In Australia

She is history's youngest world champion and has five grand slam titles of which three were in Australia and has won many more doubles titles. Martina Hingis, 24 is making a comeback in this years Australian Open where she entered as a wild card.

"The Swiss Miss" as she is affectionately called, was on a roll in her illustreous career, when in 2002 she decided to retire due to chronic injury and repeated surgery. It is difficult to keep these true great champions out for too long. The passion for the game and competive spirit has brought this champion back to the surface, much to the delight of her adoring fans who first saw her when she won this tournament at the age of 17.

Today she overcame her first round opponent the 30th seeded Russian Vena Zvonareva, beating her 6-1, 6-2, with impressive tennis, finnese and grace that her fans have sorely missed during her absence.

The Power Of Your Mind

Your mind is your biggest asset. You have the capacity to do great things when you control it. Then you become the master of your destiny.

Take the example of Thomas Edison, one the greatest inventors of all time. He had tried more than ten thousand times before he was able to perfect the light bulb. How many of us would have given up on the tenth or fifteenth try, probably most but not Edison. Every time he failed he saw it as a new opportunity to try a different method which did without giving up until he succeeded.

Your mind is your own. When you close the doors of your mind to everything that causes anxiety including anger and revenge, you'll unleash the forces of positive energy which can make amazing things happen for you.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Zidane Scores A Hat Trick

Real 4 Sevilla 2

If you love football, Zinedine Zidane is one player whose ball bending silky skills you cannot help but admire, regardless of whether you support his team or not. In the Spanish Liga match played againt Sevilla yesterday his hat trick of three goals comes at a time when his club presently fourth on the Liga table is seeking to reverse a dry spell and turn the fortunes around.

Zidane is a very good role model, has won world cup for France , the European championship and is an outstanding personality.Click here and read his bio.

Communal Bathing Rituals

Many of us have heard of the Turkish bath, a ritual that originated from ancient Turkey. In the ancient cultures bathing traditions were a community unifying force but practices such as nude bathing has lost it's appeal under pressure by the catholic church when they became a dominating force in Europe.

The modern day sauna's which has its origins in Finland, shows that even today's society does value such communal practices, with modifications to suit the current climate and times.

Thailand which has strong tradition and cultural roots can offer you the healing power of "spiritual bathing", encompassing the practises of yoga and meditation amidst the rain forest and natural settings; quite a contrast to what the modern day urban dweller is used to.

Communal bathing is a sacred ritual in Japan. You go to a "sento house", (read more) where you'll find this quite an amazing experience. In modern life, the public bath in these places provide an opportunity for interaction and communication just like the country club does for persons who like to entertain or play games.

In my home country Maldives where communities live on small islands surrounded by the sea all round, for community bathing you hit the beach and dive into the sea. It's the most therapeautic experience for beach lovers when you have pristine clear waters and bright sunshine to soak in as much or less to your heart's desire. Unfortunately uncontrolled development may see a day when we may lose the swimming lagoons as has happened in the nation's capital Male' and we may have to do with artificially created swimming pools that you so commonly see in countries that do not have the luxury of the beautiful sea.

This Pill Can Erase Your "Bad" Memory

According to this AOL News scientists are working on a pill that can wipe clean your traumatic thoughts.

The pill is in the testing stages, but it can't come soon enough. More and more soldiers are coming back from Iraq not only with badly torn bodies but with minds gone crazy. Many of them suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and there is an urgent need for a magic pill to help growing numbers of returning soldiers who can't erase the pictures of maimed bodies and dying colleagues on the battle field. Many of them have become sleepless zombies.

When polticians can't reduce the need for armed resistance in the hot spots of conflict with more looming on the horizon considering the likes of Iran's defiance to go for nuke, the need for such a pill has never been greater. Off the battle field violence is no less with gun violence, rape and other accidents.

The lifestyle of modern times is seeing a younger generation that demands instant gratification in whatever they do. This is the "cool" MTV generation growing up to fancy the "American Idol", which now every country seems to idolize in their own name. If they have to languish any pain, such a pill will be the solution and it will soon become the most widely used pill in living history.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Manchester United Lose The Derby Battle

Manchester City 3, Manchester United 1.

This is Manchester's version of the US Superbowl and the club owner Malcom Glazer already brooding over his other team Tampa Bay's failure to make the play-off must be glad he doesn't watch real football games. As though the humiliating defeat is not bad enough, Wayne Rooney and Alex Fergusion could face FA charges for confronting the referee Steve Bennet during half time. After a half time booking and a warning by the referee to Roony seen in the picture, Roony's well known ferocious temper got the better during half-time when he went about banging doors of the tunnel.

To make matters worse for United, Christiano Ronaldo was sent off for a wild tackle on Andy Cole as the loss leaves the Red Devils 13 points adrift of Chelsea which still has a match in hand.

Sir Alex Fergusion might take consolation this was his sides first loss since October, but it is really no consolation when you probably cannot catch up Chelsea and you've got Liverpool chasing down your tail to claim your second spot.

The greater tradegy would be if Alex Fergusion is unable to bridle his young talent such as Roony to consistently play on their best behaviour. There is no doubt that Roony is buzzing with match winning talent skills, but arrogance should never be allowed to come in. English Premier League has seen such talent before, such as Paul Gasgoine who never realized the full potential of his talent for similar reasons. Football loving fans can only hope the script is not written for Roony and would relish the glory days of silverware be brought to the Old Trafford faithful.

Bird Flu: The Race Against Time

This is going to be a huge problem. Scientists predict and have been giving out alert signals when the virus surfaced at Asia that this is to be treated seriously as uncontrolled spreading can make it into a pandemic.

Like the distant rumbling of a storm on the horizon, the television images of children’s’ funerals in eastern Turkey have send a shudder across Europe.
At least 15 people have been diagnosed with the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu across Turkey and three children in Dogubeyazit have succumbed, two of them confirmed flu cases.

As devastating as the outbreak in Turkey is, it is providing invaluable information for those scientists working with the leading medical centres on the planet desperately trying to outwit the virus.

Samples obtained from Turkish victims and analysed at the National Institute of Medical Research in London show that H5N1 has undergone a slight mutation which makes it more likely to attach to human cells.

The doctors who have seen at first hand the effects of bird flu are themselves shaken. In chickens, H5NI seems to spread to all internal organs, but in humans it appears to devastate the lungs in particular. Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have found that a victim’s own immune system may be part of the problem. It reacts to the virus with a flood of chemical messengers that draw white-blood cells into the lungs, where they trigger a massive inflammatory reaction.

Although the flu has so far shown no great ability to pass between humans, a worldwide pandemic is seen by experts as inevitable. A pandemic born out of avian flu will be one of the great levellers of our time. The last great flu pandemic, the Spanish flu that followed the end of the first world war, killed 50 million people across the world.

Western governmnets have hastily convened meetings to decide on protective measures. Drug companies are developing the anti-viral vaccines and stock piling them as this will be armour in the first line of defense against a pandemic. Public fears will have to be calmed and life will have to go on "business as usual" while the scientists nervously watch for mutuations and spreading of the virus. So this time it is man against an unseen enemy which can strike anytime with deadly consequences.

Los Angeles is the US homeless capital.

What an irony it is that the city of the stars, the city of the rich and glamorous is also the homeless capital of the United States. Los Angeles has about 4 million people while nearly 10 million live in Los Angeles County, which embraces a sprawl of 88 cities. Los Angeles County is the second biggest urban concentration in North America after the big apple, New York.

A report released on Thursday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated that 82,291 people were homeless in Los Angeles County on any given night in 2005, with about 48,103 of the county's homeless living within Los Angeles' city limits. (Read the full article. )

This is an appalling social condition in a country which has sold itself as the promised land of endless opportunty.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stop This Religious Intolerance For The Sake Of Peace And Harmony

Television evangelist Pat Robertson Of United States has said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which Robertson opposed.
"He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'" Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, "The 700 Club."
"God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone,'" he said.

This statement has been condemned by Conservative Christians as well as by the American Adminstration. The Israeli government took objection to this and under immense pressure Robertson retacted his statement and offered an apology.

This is the same man who stirred a controversy when he called the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "a terrific danger" bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas. (Full story)
"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." Here too he offered an apology.

These are not only inappropriate but outrageous statements and Robertson should be ashamed of himself. Even most of his followers know that he is wrong, but the problem is how do you shut up such a person who claims to preach the Word of God

Afridi "booms" 27 Runs In An Over, The Second Highest In Record Books

It would have been a joy to watch Afridi in action today in the Pakistan versus India 2nd day of the 1st test. He delivered true to his name, Boom Boom Afridi, his fans call him affectionately for his agressive and hard hitting style of play. To the joy of his thousands of fans his 103 knock off 80 balls today included an over with 27 runs, the record holder for this feat being one of the greatest batsmen none other than Brian Lara with 28 runs.

The best compliment for Shaihid Afridi comes from Michael Holding when he said "Cricket is not cricket without Shahid Afridi". Few can disagree with this statement going by today's performance.

I don't see any reason why I should change my style of batting. I have scored all my runs in international cricket by playing aggressively and would continue that in the forthcoming series. I don’t know why but I like to chase bowlers,” Afridi said in an interview on the eve of this first Test. His fans will be eagerly watching to see their flamboyant batsman in the coming days.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Liberty Quotes From Lincoln

"Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step over the
ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! -- All the armies of Europe, Asia
and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own
excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander,
could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the
Blue Ridge, in a trial of a Thousand years. At what point, then, is the
approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it
must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction
be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation
of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
-- Abraham Lincoln
(1809-1865) 16th US President


"If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens,
you can never regain their respect and esteem.
It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time;
you can even fool some of the people all of the time;
but you can't fool all of the people all the time."
-- Abraham Lincoln
(1809-1865) 16th US President

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Turk Who Shot Pope Released

As I glanced through the headlines, I noticed that the title headline appeared in several major news bulletins.At first I could not understand all the fuss over a greying middle age man who is free from prison after serving his time. I read the news and here is my take of this story.

Mehmet Ali Agca was freed from prison on thursday, nearly 25 years after he shot Pope John Paul II. Agca shot the John Paul as the pope rode in an open car in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, and was captured immediately. John Paul was hit in the abdomen, left hand and right arm, but recovered because Agca's bullets missed vital organs. The pontiff met Agca in his prison cell two years later and forgave him. After serving out his twenty year prison term in Italy, he was extradited to Turkey to face some previous charges unconnected to the attempted assasination of the pontiff.

In 1980 Agca was sentenced for execution for murdering a Turkish journalist but the sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2002, after Turkey abolished the death penalty. Later he escaped from prison and surfaced in Rome where he attempted to asssinate the pontiff.

Supporters of Agca were outside the prison to greet him as they consider him a hero.
Hours after his release, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek ordered a review to see whether any errors were committed in freeing him. He said Agca would remain free until an appeals court reviewed the case.

Many Turks were outraged at the decision to free Agca, approved by local courts, and Cicek apparently was responding to widespread criticism of the release after Agca served only five years for murdering Turkish journalist Abdi Ipekci.

At the time when Agca shot the pope who did not support the communist ideolgy, there was speculation that The Bulgarian Secret Service acting for the Soviet Union may have played a part in the plot but it was never proved.

With Turkey vying for a place as a member of the European Union, special interest will now bear on how Turkey handles this case.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Thought From Napoleon Hill Foundation


Just as in a conversation it's a good idea to listen more than you talk, it is also wise in relationships to think about the well-being of others more than you think about your own wishes and desires. When you constantly strive to treat others in the same way you would like them to treat you, you become a person whom others like to be around, one who commands their respect, confidence, and loyalty. When you learn to manage emotions and your ego, and when you learn to always consider the needs and desires of others, it is inevitable that you will "bait your hook" with kindness and consideration, and catch more friends than you can count.

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Visit us at http://www.naphill.org. We encourage you to forward this to friends and family. They can sign up for this free service at our web site.

Early Victims Of Global Warming: The Frogs

Global warming has aided the growth of a fungus that caused the extinction of as many as 70 species of brightly colored South American frogs, according to a study to appear in the Jan. 12 issue of the journal Nature.

Several species of frogs including the brightly coloured golden toad have become extinct.

Here is what happens. The clouds create a mix of warmer nighttime temperatures that help the fungus grow on the frogs and cooler daytime temperatures that prevent the frogs from seeking the warm spots that could help them fight infection, according to the study. Scientists are now hopping and hoping to find ways to prevent the outbreak of the fatal disease.

For now what we know is that disease is killing frogs and global warming has unleashed havoc. The effect of any chain reaction on our biodiversity will be disastrous and hopefully we can get out of a death trap which the human species has unwittingly brought about.

Global Warming Gets A Pat From Asia Pacific

Global warming has produced a new partnership among some of the world's biggest polluting nations on Clean Development and Climate, one that complements the Kyoto protocol and compromises with U.S., Japan, Australia, South Korea, China and India in it. It is working together to develop, deploy and transfer cleaner, more efficient technologies and to meet national pollution reduction, energy security and climate change concerns, consistent with the principles of the U.N. Framework Convention of Climate Change.

The six nations at the inaugural Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate meeting in Sydney acknowledged that burning fossil fuels a major contributor to greenhouse gases will remain "critical" to their economies. Australia and the US have each pledged more than $50 million for research into cleaner forms of energy. The money will be used to look at ways to generate cleaner electricity, and make industries more energy-efficient.

But critics say the pledged money is not enough, and accuse Australia and the US of not agreeing to the Kyoto Protcol which reqiures nations for mandatory cuts of green house gases.

The low lying countries that will be most affected by severe weather changes will do well to do all it can to keep this issue in the global focus, demanding attention and action in the interest of humanity.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Are You Dissatisfied With Your Current Career?

If the answer is 'yes', then why not launch your own home-based business. The internet offers unbeatable tools and abundant opportunities. You may even require more than a lifetime to explore the information superhighway fully. How far you succeed in your own home-based business will depend on your ability to give total commitment.

It requires radically redefining the way you earn a living and live your life. There are lot of people who fantasize about working at home but frankly don't have the internal discipline to work efficiently without supervision. The idea of not having a supervisor sounds like the greatest thing in the world. The reality is that a lot of people can't function without that structure and without that discipline.

It is also a reality that in your own home-based business you can bring massive changes with profound effects by putting out the same level of effort that you did in your old nine-to-five job. There is no magic formula to succeed at office or home; except hard work and total commitment. An example in point: Fortune 500 companies spend thousands of dollars or more to create dazzling home pages. The home-based entrepreneur on a shoestring budget can create similar pages using the internet tools available, many of them free.

Monday, January 09, 2006

India and Pakistan Engaged In Cricket Diplomacy

Ever since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, India and Pakistan have been arch rivals. While the dispute over the Kashmir conflict remains unresolved, both sides have agreed to work towards a peaceful solution and the millions of cricket crazy fans provide an excellent opportunity for the politicians to bring both sides closer in the areas of agreement.

Starting from 13th January, India and Pakistan will play three tests and five one day internationals. During this period the divided subcontinent of India and Pakistan with more a billion population will be consumed to watch fever pitch cricket.

It's also the time for pundits and astrologers to predict the winning team analysing every aspect of the playing conditions, the pitch, players form and their behaviour both on and off the field.

The home team captain Inzamam (in the pic) gave out his Strategy saying, his bowlers need to get opener Virender Sehwag early because he can destroy any bowling attack. He fancies his chances against Sachin Tendulkar and said the Pakistani bowlers can restrict him.

"I know the Indian batsmen have not done as well as they should have in the recent past. But we cannot ignore their track record which is of the highest class. Similarly, Pakistan bowling, especially the fast bowling attack, will not be the same as the Indians faced in 2004 and I am sure the Indians would have realised it after last year's series," Inzamam said.

The Indians arrive in Lahore on Thursday evening on their second tour of Pakistan in three years for a three-Test and five-match one-day international series. The Test series starts in Lahore on January 13.

"It is going to be a battle between the Indian batting and Pakistan bowling. Spearheaded by a rejuvenated Shoaib Akhtar, I fancy my team's chances more than the Indians but we have to remember that every Indian batsman has earned respect and recognition after performing consistently over the years.

Have A National Fruit Cake Day!

ABC Mildura Swan Hill in Australia celebrated national fruit cake day on tuesday, 27th Dec 2005.

Here is Elwyn Frankel's boiled fruit cake recipe that was passed down to her by her mother Violet Wakefield.

Boiled Fruit Cake Recipe

Boil together 1 cup of sugar, a quarter of a pound of butter, one pound of dried fruits, 1 teaspoon of mixed spice, 1 cup of cold water, lemon peel and nuts if liked. Boil together for five minutes, then add 1 teaspoon of bi-carbonate soda. Let the mixture cool then add 2 eggs, 1 cup of self-raising flour, and one-and-a-half cups of plain flour. Bake in a slow oven for one to one-and-a-half hours. The cake is improved and has a better keeping quality if a good dash of sherry is added.

Microsoft Under Fire For Blocking Chinese Blogger

Microsoft is under fire for blocking a blog belonging to chinese researcher Zao Jing
after he posted articles critical of a management purge at the "Beijing News Daily." here is what he said:

"I posted three posts about the Beijing News and all posts and articles were deleted inside China," Mr Zhao, who uses the pen name Michael Anti, told the XFN-Asia news service this week.

"MSN Spaces (has) now deleted all of my articles and I have no backup and I'm very angry."

The MSN Spaces operation, a Microsoft joint venture with state-owned Shanghai Alliance Entertainment, is the top blog hosting service in China.

Microsoft this week defended its latest action, releasing a statement saying it was acting in line with global laws when it deleted the web blog.

"In line with Microsoft practices in global markets, MSN is committed to ensuring that products and services comply with global and local laws, norms, and industry practices," the company said.

"Most countries have laws and practices that require companies providing online services to make the internet safe for local users. Occasionally, as in China, local laws and practices require consideration of unique elements."

On which ever side of the divide of free speech you remain, it is clear that big business such as microsoft, yahoo and google would not want to jeopardize their business interests although they may privately not agree with the practices that prevail in some global markets that are so important to them.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sharon: Fights The Battle Of His Life

As the prime minister of Israel Arial Sharon lies critically ill, there is debate in the middle east on his contribution to peace or otherwise. The acting prime minister has said, "Israel's democracy is strong and its institutions are functioning as they should."

Doctors will decide to wake him from the medically induced coma on monday and Israel anxiously awaits the new political landscape that will emerge if for any reason, Arial Sharon is unable to resume active duty as prime minister. Many in the middle east have strong views on Mr.Sharon's role in the peace process. Even his unilateral decision to pull out from the Gaza is seen with suspicion by those opposed to him. Such an attitude of mistrust does not help in the peace process of a region that is fraught with a history of unresolved conflicts.

From his friends and foes alike, Mr. Sharon desrerves the support and good wishes for his recovery, as would be the case with any other human being.

Keep It Simple And Lose Weight

Read this article from WebMD. Stop looking for miracle cures or super-fast weight loss techniques.Keep it simple. says the writer of the article who has experienced the demands of life that many of us have to struggle with on a daily basis. Accept the two things below and it will be easier for the rest to fall into place and make your life simpler.

1.Life will always be full of stress and demands
2.We can't control a lot of things. We can control how we respond to them

Learning to control our emotions is not always easy but the recognition and acceptance of it will put us in the right track to achieve success.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Complacency- A Rehash of My Previous Post

"Complacency is a form of slavery, binding one to a living death of inaction, non participation and default. The shackles are easy to slip into. They are comfortabale chains because they require nothing but your disinterest and indifference."

The above is an abstract from the book "Life By Design" by Dr. Rick Kirschner and Dr. Rick Brinkman.

The book gives an example to support the above stated view illustrating ' a frog experiment.' The frogs were put into a pond. The water temperature of the pond was gradually raised. The idea was to see at what temparature the frogs will jump out and leave the pond. Surprisingly every time the temperature was raised the frogs adjusted to the new level and did not leave the pond. This continued until the frogs finally got roasted in the pond.

This example demonstrates the consequences of inaction and disinterest.

Monday, January 02, 2006

This Computer Can Taste Wine

Computers are beating the humans in several fields including in wine tasting. A Carnegie Mellon University Professor is working to build computer tools that will make and taste better wine. The connoisseurs will have to look for other jobs and ardent muslims will ask for halal computers. ha! These are exciting times.

Live A Life Of Self-Respect And Dignity

Coming through the busy MG Road of the Bangalore City Center yesterday, we were passing through the neon-lit billboards that were plentiful around almost all the buildings. One advertisement caught my eye and stuck to my mind. It read: Live a life of self-respect and dignity. It was an advert of a bank.

Our car stopped at the next red light. A young young boy ran between the moving vehicles that were coming to a halt, to sell the evening papers and some 2006 calendars. I wondered what self-respect and dignity would mean to this young man's life . I certainly hold him in high respect for his enterprising though somewhat reckless behaviour to earn a living.

Even after I reached home, I kept thinking to myself whether society could do more to help those at the lowest tier of society who peddle and push sometimes risking their own lives, just in order to survive.

The answers do not easily follow the questions, but I decided to put my pen to paper hoping to capture my trend of thought before my imagination takes flight into the other mundane matters of life.

I wrote effortlessly upto this point and began to falter when the complexity of the problems we face became clearer in my mind. The advert that raced in front of my eyes was probably not meant to evoke any of these emotions. The advert was out to sell a package of services since we know banks take your money and invest for higher returns. So no big deal, it's just business ; big business.

Does big business have a social responsibilty to help others live a life of self-respect and dignity? I think they do. I agree that the prime motive of any business is first to make money for the people who invest in the business. But since business is done in a community, it has a responsibilty to contribute to the well-being of the community thereby helping it's members to live a life self-respect and dignity.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Best Part Of Your Life

You think the best part of your life is when you are a footloose teenager with a transistor plugged into your ear and you seem to have all the time in the world to do whatever it pleases you. You are cool to sip pepsi and frequent fast food cafes, appealing not only to your taste buds but giving you an identifiable lifestyle. You are the trendy virtually connected generation whose fast fingers SMS friends near and far. You are lucky if you can afford such a lifestyle which is the norm that aspiring developing nations hope to achieve for their youthful generation who demand instant gratification as a way of life.

Unfortunately, even with the best of medical technology and modern conveniences, age takes you on as you go through life. You turn a corner and you are in the middle age when everything turns grey. Leaving home to party all night is no longer easy for the aching bones and you begin to say, " I've done it all before."

What comes at your next turn into your later life is better left undescribed. There are no cool TV commercials to show you how to live that part of your life. There is no glamour there and you've given up the pepsi's in favour of the health conscious drinks.

I've described three distinct phases of your life: the wrinkle free youth, the experienced middle age and the sunset years of old age. Her's how I think you can make each of these phases the best phase of your life.

1- The youth: Make this the best learning period. Look after your health, keep yourself gainfully employed, persue a hobby and live an active lifestyle saving sufficient for your future.

2-With maturity and experience now to your credit you can discern what relationships give you joy. You can learn from your mistakes and commit yourself to contribute to and help worthy social causes such as helping the poor or providing affordable education.

3-Old age is the payback time for your early efforts. You can reap the fruits of your harvest now. You can afford to spend time on what pleases you most, whether it is to travel or just wait and smell the roses while you watch the world pass you by.

If you can smothly manouvre yourself from one phase to the other and avoid sharp volatile patterns while resident in any particular stage, it would give you a great sense of accomplishment. At whatever point you are in the odyssey of life, you must make the best of it and don't be among the walking dead for you get to live this life only once on this planet we call earth.

Give Peace A Chance

John Lennon's title song comes to mind as I write this piece from Bangalore, still reeling from last wednesday's terror attack in which a gunmen entered the nation's prestigious Indian Institue Of Science in Bangalore, opened fire and killed a respected mathematics professor who had come in to attend a sminar. My heart goes out to the professor's family and I condemn this barbaric action.

As the world welcomes the new year celebrations the mood here isn't damp though understandably some nervousness does prevail with a higher level of security visibly present in strategic areas.

Terror from an unseen enemy is the biggest threat facing the world now. Religious zealots and ideological fanatics and their agenda must be defeated to allow peace and harmony between the communities of the world.