Archive for the ‘Seoul’ Category

Edison and the electric chair

September 10, 2009

I was contemplating joining GE when I came across this book that deals with Edison and his role in the electric chair.  That the author(Mark Regan Essig) is a doctorate in American History added value to my curiosity-it was going to be authentic material.

I left this post unfinished back in `06.  Though i read the book then didn’t feel like blogging  it.  Edison (and the light bulb) has been glorifyed in our minds so much that we forget that he was human and subject to human frailty. This book shows that there could be more than one reason for being a ‘humanitarian’.

An employee of GE today goes through a number of training programs which explain what constitutes appropriate behavior (ethics in general).  It leaves a good feeling-that we are in good company; and that is true indeed. Some development programs run by Edison’s name. There is also a ‘Chair’ (to be occupied by achievers) on his name.  As someone remarked, in the long run people remember only the good things. We owe so much of the luxury we have today to Edison- he was a genius technologist.  Period.

The book makes excellent reading. Read it if you also want to know how and why we are using AC power supply instead of DC.  For those who do not know what the Electic Chair is, you can see it in the movie ” Green Mile”.  Thomas Edison is the founder of the GE company.

Astrology and blame!

September 8, 2009

Sri Sri Ravishankar (Art of Living) makes interesting listening, thanx to his wits, even for a non-follower. Here is the explaination he gives for Astrology.  Whenever, there is a problem the usual tendency of the people is to find someone/something to blame.  Astrology shifts the blame that you would put on other people to the cosmos.  In case of some loss you would say “because of the saturn being retrograde i had the loss”….listen to the video.

Poverty in India and Italy

September 3, 2009

Today, during Tea time one of my Italian colleague made a comment that left me uneasy. At some point in our conversation my colleague said poor countries like India and Africa… I know that there are many poor people in India but i never thought of India as a poor country. I also remember Oprah Windfrey (on the Letterman Show) citing Africa and India as poor countries.
Today i googled for poverty-statistics and here are the results for percentage of people below poverty line in :
Italy: 13 % (2008)
India: 22 % (2007)
Africa: 40 % (2000)
It was suprising that 13% of Italy was below poverty line. However, it should be noted that Africa is continent while the other two are countries. And also that the definition of poverty line may change the numbers significantly.

setup.exe does not run

September 1, 2009

I had this problem on windows xp. When I double click the ‘setup.exe’ file to load a new software nothing happens. When i look into the ‘task manager’ i find that setup.exe is in the list. I Googled and found a number of suggestions. The suggestion that worked is available here. Basically, you have to open task manager and delete the ‘NMIndexingService.exe’ from the list of ‘processes’. As soon as you delete/kill this process the ‘setup.exe’ will start loading.

Mt. Fuji and the mountain hut

August 31, 2009

When I came to know that we could actually stay on Mt. Fuji i was delighted. If you are the ordinary hiker, like i am, you would need this break. This dawned on me even more when i was on the way up the moutain- I was wishing every small shed to be our halting place. Its too windy and fine sand is hitting you all the time. I weigh ~65 kg but the wind was strong enough to shake me. (We hiked up the Mt. during Aug-19th-20th).

There are huts on every station; Mt. Fuji is divided into several stations each at a higher height. (There are 10 of them, if i am not wrong). We started the trek from the 5th Station, which is also called Kawaguchiko 5th station. It took us nearly 5 hours to reach the 8th station, where we had planned our halt in a mountain hut.

We were totally exhausted by the time we reached there. Though not hungry (were munching all the way) we looked forward to the food (we had asked in advance for the food). However, inspite of having reserved  for vegetarian food we found fish and beef in our food packets. Apparently, the one with whom we had arranged for the mountain hut did not inform. But the bigger shock was yet to come….the sleeping place. We were directed to a bed which already had four people(2 men, 2 women) lying. And we were four of us. When we finally managed to arrange ourselves between them there was enough place only to look upward (face up). If we turned we would be within kissing distance of each other.  The length of the bed was such that i couldn’t stretch (i am 5’8”). But where do we keep our shoes, bags and extra clothing. I was asked to use the shoes either as pillow or keep them beside my head. And the bags had to rest on our feet or they could serve as pillow for our feet.

One could barely hope to sleep in such a condition. When asked, the Hut-keepers told us we couldn’t expect this to be a guest house. But then it was too expensive. We stayed for 3 hours and paid 5000 yen!. In Tokyo we stayed in Sakura Hotel (a likeable place)  and had paid 4500 yen for a day. 

So if you plan for halt at the mountain hut…here are the facts. The online reservation and the people who actually run the show are two different people….This leaves scope for ,”we were not told by him”.. .

So: No special requests (like Vegetarian…) , Dont expect to get a comfortable bed, Expect to be sleeping next to total strangers within vanishing distance, No bathing (if ur lucky you could brush teeth), Toilets unusable (there are just too many people using it…expect to stand in a queue to use them)…

Therefore, while the mountain hut is definitely a welcome break, keep your expectations low.

Cold and Hot drinks are available all the way to the top. At the very top you will get noodles too. Its even more windy there. I tried navigating around the craters and at one time had to lie low and crawl. Walking would have blown me away.

so much like lata mangeshkar

August 5, 2009

the following link has a telugu song by sadhna sargam. Its from ‘koncham ishtam koncham kashtam’.
In the mukhada sadhana sargam sounds so much like lataji that its difficult to believe its not.
however, soon one starts having doubts…the way lataji ends the lines, the ease of gamakam in the akaaram are unique.
nevertheless, when the song started the vocal had a refreshing effect. No wonder when lataji was asked to name the singers who held promise she took sadhana sargam’s name.

Sanskrit and Plutonium

July 31, 2009

Everyone who remembers chemistry at school knows the periodic table. And has atleast heard of Mendeleev, the Russian chemist who came with the idea of arranging the elements in the form of table. His table had only those elements that were known at that time (1860’s). However, Mendeleev’s genius lay in the fact that he not only guessed that there were more elements to be discovered but also indicated their positions in the periodic table. It is important to note that Mendeleev arranged the elements in the periodic table based on their atomic mass. (The modern table is arranged based on atomic numbers) To name the new elements, that didn’t exist then, he borrowed some words from Sanskrit. Apparently. his friends Otto was teaching Sanskrit in St. Petersburgh Univ.. Thanx to his influence, Mendeleev got interested in Sanskrit and found a way of using it.  He learnt that Eka, Dvi, Tri meant one, two, three.  He named the missing element that had to be in the row after Boron as EkaBoron; meaning that this element should be one element after Boron.  Other missing elements named similarly were EkaAluminum, DviTellurium, TriManganese and many more.  These elements were later found and renamed as Gallium, Polonium, Rhenium, respectively. This and much more about Plutonium, Uranium, the atomic bomb,  and lots of science is described in an interesting way in the book ‘Plutonium, History of the worlds most dangerous element’ by  Jeremy Bernstein.

Humility or the grace of Prabhupada

July 14, 2009

This video is a part of  7 videos on youtube. In these videos one of the disciples of Srila Prabhuda narrates his journey from being a drug addict to a Swami. Its humbling to see the Swami’s self-deprecating talk about his irreverant attitude towards Prabhupada. And how he had a grandiose view of himself. Apparently, there were times when he thought about himself as Shiva and sported a third eye !

gladwell and heart disease

July 12, 2009

First i chanced upon the article in the scientific journal ‘nature’ about Indians being vulnerable to heart disease because of their genes (read here about it). Soon after, again by chance, i read something which basically said indicated that genes had little to do with heart disease(read here about it). And now i read in Gladwell’s book, ‘Outliers’ that being a part of a community where there is healthy social interactions and having a good family life guaranteed a life free from heart problems. One can call it a coinicidence that i stumbled across all three articles one after another in a short period of time.  However, as the old  turtle in ‘Kungfu Panda’ says “there is no coincidence”.

Talking of Gladwell, i have read his ‘tipping point’ and ‘blink’ as well.  Gladwell basically takes up on one question and answers  it by giving different examples. Actually, he comes to the answer in the first example itself.  The remaining ones are more like substantiating the answer arrived at in the first example.  They many examples are actually an overkill to prove a point.

So here is my suggestion:

Read any one chapter…if you have got the point he is making leave the book.  Unless you have the time and patience to digest the overload of examples suggesting essentially the same thing.

‘Outliers’  basically tries to prove that exceptional people in all fields art, science, sports etc. have put in extraordinarily large amount of hardwork to get where they are.  If you need proof that hardwork pays OR if you want to know what hard work means or how much one needs to work then this is your book.

Carrot and eyes

July 8, 2009

Eating carrots is good for eyes?!  It is a myth. Though i never needed to test this hypothesis, i did think it to be true. Until, i read about the origin of that myth in the book ‘electric universe’ by David Bodanis.

Apparently, during  world war-II the British developed radars that could detect air planes long before they could reach the targets. This was unknown to the  German pilots who were always taken by surprise. It was during this time that the British government encouraged alternate stories of their ability to see the airplanes at long distances.   The newspapers carried leaked  reports that eating carrots enhanced vision to such an extent that one see accurately even at night!  The author supposes  that the story that carrots were good for eyes had its roots in these rumours.

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