Thursday, 5 December 2013

Rights, gender, violence, Imbalance ...

I have been watching the trend of converging feminist and modernist movements. Equal status across genders and immunity to (or protection from) violence is called for in a nation wide movement.

A call for stopping violence (of any kind) - is what we need.

"The World did not see the deaths of civilians in Syria as victimization until the 'red line' of usage of conventional weapons deploying chemical weapons began." This has almost created a perception that conventional forms of violence are acceptable. Thereby the world has almost condoned, rather than condemned the violence in Syria.

In modern work environments, water-cooler/cafeteria conversations of women may center on multiple topics including men. Equally, men go about comments in their vocabulary on women who work with them. Yet, it is more frequently published that men 'talk dirty.' This is an observation (of published text) and never a generalization.

I have been in the company of colleagues who have seldom made comments on colleagues who are women or of the opposite gender (to theirs) in any form. Rewarding cultured behavior is seldom done. All focus of media is on abhorrent atrocity. Why?

The focus too, as someone pointed out is on the demographic that provides stronger readership or viewership (for Television).

Evolution has differentiated male and female genders, in physiology, neurology and every way over several billions of years. Is this so difficult to accept, that instincts and perceptions are different even amongst humans across genders?

UNHCR reports record sexual violence is inflicted in perhaps equal amounts on both men and women in interviews. (This includes several scenarios - police-states, civil-conflict, civil-war and inter-state warfare.)

What is this media-frenzy that focuses on making the streets safer for women? Are we preferential to violence that is equally mediated across genders or mediated exclusively on those who are not women?

We must work to cessation of violence and violent behavior. This is no small task for a species evolved originally as a predator. Solutions are never as simple as censorship and police-patrols which may be initial steps toward solutions.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Apocalypse 2012 - What was it about?

Many friends  received emails highlighting a cataclysmic end to the world; esp. human life as we know it this year (2012). Some of them asked my opinion on the subject. I had then decided to answer them after the year was complete. My earlier entry (on the topic) was titled "End(s) of the World" written on May 20, 2011 as a rebuttal to the failing voice of Harold Camping.

The world did not end in 2012, or several dates marked prior to this where cults waited on hilltops or committed mass suicide. It is an unlikely event. Historically the most disastrous event we know is heavy volcanic activity forcing many people of the Minoan civilization to relocate.

Atlantis is a legend, perhaps even a fictional residue of a multitude of events as much as Troy of the Illiad. There is little proof to support existence of civilized life over 5,000 years ago. Although, there are those who believe that 10,500 BCE held some special civilization composed of hybrid homonids or only homo-sapiens (It would be only 2,500 years after the Neanderthals vanished en masse.) 

Despite several massive extinction events in the past, including the K-Pg or K-T event, life has never left planet earth nor has an entire genus been wiped clean. 

Before we confront the unfounded fears or subconscious "needs" of mass-destruction, let's take a look at the theories that spawned and turned out to be nothing ...

Friday, 29 November 2013

Identity: Part 2

The first part (Identity - Part I) of this blog post discussed the parameters of our Identity that are either difficult or impossible to change. Exploring alternate parameters defining our Identity by our actions and behaviors can lend us more control in how we are perceived. A crisis is slowly creeping into such actively defined parameters of our Identity as political and social orders try to extend their control over people.

We can actively shape our behavioral traits, manners, body-language, spoken-language-accents, dress-sense, health-consciousness and intellectual-prowess. The economic wherewithal, geopolitical and social environment will help us achieve this at varying (personal) costs. This opportunity-cost makes it easier or less easier depending on parameters we do not control.

Read on for a deeper analysis and discussion of 'Identity' we can shape, for the most part ...

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Identity: Part 1

Everyone living in this world in any time, has had to face their "Identity." This two-part blog post is an exploration of both physical and digital identities, and how they have come to drastically change the way we build our identity.

One part of our Identity is thrust upon us, leaving us with little or no choice. Another part of our identity is something we can build and increase our control over. Today, the societies permissivity to free ourselves from the 'identity' that was thrust upon us is (in the first part) is far greater, than several centuries ago. 

Several unchangeable parts will cling on to ourselves until we find ways to exercise change and control over it if necessary. 

The second part of our identity (covered in the follow-up to this) will be one that we can shape and control even today or perhaps at any point historically. It is that part that has to overshadow the former and help us define us far better by action rather than circumstance & causality.

What follows is an exploration of key parameters that differentiate us, with viewpoints borrowed from different sources to help us understand "identity" better ...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

GNU/Linux: Is it immune to Malware?

When someone switches to GNU/Linux, one of the attributes assigned to GNU/Linux and other Open Source Operating Systems (that are free [as in freedom]) is that GNU/Linux is VIRUS or Malware free.

I have been answering (some of the misunderstandings in this respect) at multiple forums and lists, but here is the comprehensive answer.

The truthful answer is YES, writing and enabling malware executing within GNU/Linux is possible.

I prefer the term Malicious Software (abbreviated Malware), rather than the obscure and rather obsolete term 'Vital Information Resources Under Siege' (VIRUS that sounds like a poorly named movie. )

Monday, 25 November 2013

F1 Racing: Sebastian Vettel, the new Legend

Image: Courtesy IBNLive (Brazilian GP 2013, Race Podium)
Sebastian Vettel has now won 9 races, one after the other - a feat no other Formula 1 driver has achieved. He has equaled the Legendary Michael Schumacher's feat of 13 victories in a single year. He knew that with the car and performance, it was important to take the best out of it. There was no point sitting it out with content having already been crowned world champion two races prior.

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 71 1:32:36.300 1 25
2 2 Mark WebberRed Bull Racing 71 +10.4 4 18
(data source: Race Results, FIA)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Literacy: Is it truly necessary?

The letters are easy, yet read the names and words and see that their pronunciation and usage are anything but easy
Many of us schooled in India, perhaps even elsewhere in the world have been told that a good percentage of the population of India is still illiterate. They are literally unable to 'write'. Most of us (at least within the groups I have spoken to) have been taught that the "lack of schools" or the "lack of primary education" is the primary cause of illiteracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Indian systems of writing were extremely well developed and evolved. Evidence of a 7th Century CE carving here, shows the "engineered" Grantha script - ('Grantha' literally means script, and is a phonetic script that can ideally be used to represent any language.)  Those who made these carvings that remain today are unlikely to be royalty or even priestly folk suggesting that language was available to artisans and craftsman. Further written scripts were to be taught after the fundamentals of speaking a language was taught.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Global Climate Change: solving the jigsaw

With the attention on the "Global Warming" phenomenon, most people will be attributing this as the reason for "freak weather" and recently unpredictable climate changes (as the weather is not changing seasonally as it has been in the past century.)

Like most discussions on the topic, the illustration here jumps to explaining "cause." However, actual Global warming itself is an average increase of global temperature by 1 degree Farenheit. This would mean that the effect, despite specific points in the globe having upto 12 degrees Farenheit increase, the overall temperature average remains less altered. It is therefore too judgmental to pin massive climate changes on global warming itself.

Read on for a deeper explanation of how and why the massive weather changes occur ...

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sri Lanka: Ethnic conflict or Regional Power Play?

The island nation of Sri Lanka, named at some point in history after the mythical place of the Ramayana has been the ground of conflict for thousands of years. Yet from 1983, the discrimination of a majority population, dubbed on the grounds of their language and belief systems as the Sinhalese and the "alleged" northern settlers (who have undoubtedly lived here for longer than published,) the internal civil war has brewed.

The ethnic issues began upon the departing of the British, as communal tensions increased between the largely Southern population of the Sinhalese and the northern population of the Tamil-speaking people.

Sri Lanka has been an ally of the United States of America, for a long time. Interestingly TIME magazine in 2006 has actually called the LTTE an extremely organized fighting unit.

Human Rights Violations that are continuing, with the (largely) Sinhalese-speaking southern population on top, and the (largely) Tamil-speaking northern population subject to arrests even four years after the "claimed" end of the civil-war is shocking. Rajapakse is projected in an image akin to Ravan (of the ancient epic of the Ramayana.) I am appalled by this horror that the ethnic Sinhalese-speaking group believes in a zero-sum war.

How did such a travesty happen? What transpired into such a horrific calamity of human lives and livelihoods? (It is a lot more than an ethnic conflict that panned out ...)

Friday, 15 November 2013

India 2013: Tamil Nadu - Power crisis!

The two main sources of electricity generated in Tamil Nadu are Mettur Hydel Project and thermal plants at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation.

In addition there are multiple thermal power plants of much lower capacity, some operating on diesel, some operating on coal - all of which have little or no indigenous supply of fuel.

Kalpakkam, the first Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) powers areas in the state capital of Chennai and has already been upgraded close to 1.25 MW peak capacity with an additional reactor. This was designed to be a contingency and research operation to support state capitals in times of grave emergency. Our complete reliance on Kalpakkam for Chennai (and surrounding areas) is already stressing out the production from this plant.

Wind power generation has dropped 85% between 2012 and 2013. This is from 30% of projected peak wind power capacity to 5% of projected wind power plant capacity.

Kudankulam's revised nuclear power technology reactor output is sketchy at best, one can assume that it feeds 500MW (peak: 750MW) of power into the grid if it is operational - despite the fact that it's capacity is much higher. This is more a naval facility than a civilian power production plant, particularly due to its location and is manned by very few civilians.

Read on to see data, alternatives, and where we must try to go from here ...

Thursday, 14 November 2013

GimpShop: GIMP taking on Photoshop
Late is the hour when open source answers. There are some of us who'd like to recommend GIMP to those using Adobe Photoshop - behemoth on Operating Systems that get sluggish, the moment you start working on something huge. You can't just uninstall everything, yet GIMP had an alien interface and GIMP for windows was more GIMP, less familiar to the Photoshop community.

It wasn't released yesterday; why this post? original Photoshop tools equivalent to GIMP tools have been like the MS Windows 7.x to 8.x upgrade (everything is not where it used to be.) While I have convinced some, who out of brevity did try out, their patience wore thin till they got back to Adobe Photoshop. Being open-source, GIMP needed a few rebuilds, interface-changes, translations, plugin support layers to really get friendly to the Photoshop club. That's exactly what GIMPShop is. 

Read on for screenshots and direct download links ...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Sualeh Keen's Works: Prose, Poetry, Wit and Wisdom

This is work that's continually growing, being collected at a much slower pace than he manages to pen them. This is just 1 year (almost) - there are 3 more years of notes/poetry/essays/commentaries to be added. I've included more content that was ignored in the previous revisions.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Indian elections 2014: The Future game

Indian Elections: 2014, a few who would change the game among the many ...

India's electorate has always dispensed more power to regional parties thereby enabling coalitions. The regional parties hope to have either a "weak" or reasonably compliant group calling the shots at the center, ensuring that they can have their say.

This would quickly explain how the most complex coalition was headed by H D Deve Gowda and later by I K Gujral who were not perceived to be strong leaders. This does not however grant them authority and therefore explains why they had shorter terms. However perception does not necessarily mean that the leader in question or the party enabling that person with leadership is strong or weak. This however affects electoral mandate.

The second factor is that public awareness toward corruption and scams is growing with an inherent want for 'fair governance'. Hence any party perceived corrupt or having been involved in scams has the negative swing as they call it. (Yet, we must remember that historically - even in terms of evolution, nature itself has never been fair.) Hence having fair governance is as much a pipe dream that might even end up with a global Orwelian Dystopia.

India needs:
  • Stability in the Center to help growth in terms of economy.
  • Regional stability to avoid unrest, rise in issues like naxalites, requests to form new-states of regions that were not previously union-territories.
You can read further, on the possible political future of India from 2014-2027, hoping that a worldwide war or catastrophe does not happen.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

India 2014: Narendra Modi, his campaign, why the attention?

Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat has taken it upon himself to rather give an extremely different impetus to selecting the Prime Minister of India and thereby the coalition. No other party, including the Congress (I) has ever gone to the polls with a one person image. One person may have campaigned in the past, but seldom drawn so much attention to themselves. While there are supporters, critics, nay-sayers and vehement opposition, one must recognize the change he has brought in the pre-electoral phase in the country.

Considering that the literacy rate of India is low and the population of India that is still below the redesignated poverty line (and the earlier poverty line,) most parties do not publish a manifesto early on, almost 6 months or more before the actual elections. Establishing a precedent in his own party, Narendra Modi has steered (despite lack of complete support) to have the BJP name him as the person responsible for the Campaign as well as acknowledged him as their Prime Ministerial candidate. To change the will of a party with a record during the unparalleled Atal Behari Vajpayee Ji, is no ordinary achievement.

These are the notes of one who has been skeptic of Narendra Modi and his PM ambitions, read on if you can spare some time ...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Laptops: an end of an era

Laptops started out as lightweight portable PCs, but have succumbed to stiff competition from the Smartphone, Tablet and Phone-Tablet (dubbed Phablet) alternatives.

The factors that have slowly taken the laptops close to their extinction are:
  1. Weight (although portable, lugging them over long distances is not comfortable.)
  2. Fragility (except for the rugged versions, most laptops cannot stand shocks)
  3. Upgrades (very minimal)
  4. Battery Backup (extremely low if compute power required is high defeating portability)
  5. Lifetime (3 years at best, but the next generation replacement is seldom as far ahead as the smartphone class.)
  6. Chargers (These are not standardized and vary heavily across brands and models.)
  7. Serviceability (Time consuming and subject to spare part availability)
  8. Thermal performance (Cooling has always been a challenge, with few laptops cutting that edge for those who can afford them.)
  9. Display (Graphics acceleration for several reasons has always been minimal, rendering them less useful for high-end applications like rendering.)
  10. Wireless Communication (Too few are provided with 3G making them less useful in remote environments)
  11. Recycling (the mechanical design is usually less susceptible to recycling, as is the display, input interfaces and storage - with the core motherboard also getting outdated far too quickly. This coupled with the short lifetime is making them less recycle-friendly.)
  12. Software (Operating Systems constantly requiring upgrades make the "Personal" computing part much costlier and less affordable across most available brands. This is also true of most application software used.)

Monday, 9 September 2013

2012 Arab Spring: Impact on Africa, SE-Asia, Analysis

An observation and analysis of these changes and their impact is based on the data available openly.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A Church, its Cemetery, its Flock ...

Dad used to take me, along with mom and my sis, to a Church in town every Sunday. He was brought up as a devout christian and wished the same for me. Once I reached adulthood, or was rather old enough to take a communion, he insisted that I attend a course in the same church to prepare myself for the communion. I attended this and received in whatever worthiness was expected the communion for my first time. He thereafter set me free to choose to attend or find faith in my own way as I saw fit and no longer bid me to accompany him, though he always wanted me by his side when he went to Church.

At the time of his passing, I attended the same Church. My paternal grandfather, among other late members of my family are buried in its cemetery. My opinion that this Church is broken, perhaps even beyond repair, is from previous conversations with Dad and specifically what I observed at this very occasion.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Can we revive India?

At first when we transact with government officials, we experience a lackadaisical attitude, one devoid of all human care, intent on something else, their own. These are today's people - not merely the public "servants", but the public too. We go to a local store to buy groceries and either break queues or find others doing so for impatience is how most live.

The first time you pay a bribe, you are only encouraged to follow, as you "seem" to have saved precious time. The law takes its own course, which in semantics means at least 10% of your life-time (and that is relatively a high cost of time.) It doesn't stop here.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sports Car Digital Dashboards

If you think that sports cars have simplistic dashboards and roaring engines, a Ferrari F50 can prove you wrong.

Here's a picture to ponder for those who work on Instrument Clusters and Digital Dashboards.

If you wish to see more, there's a video of a showdown of two F50s, which shows this in use.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stagnating Education in India - Can we make it work?

An Education would imply a system that imparts knowledge, skills and habits. These in turn would help an individual with the ability to think abstractly, express new ideas and evolve new habits. Almost every education system I have seen in India involves an autodidact who supervises the entire education process.
In the entire chain shown in the diagram above, the "autodidact" is still present, in a form of propagation of authoritarian education.