Sunday, May 14, 2006

Zack Baker has left the Building

Animesh, Zack and Marybeth at Graduation 2006

My officemate Zack is now Dr. Zack Baker. He left today for his new job at Los Alamos National Labs.

This post is dediated to him. Thanks for teaching me so many things I know Zack. Thanks for being a strong influence on my life for the past 3 years. You will be missed.

P.S. Dear readers, please do not be mistaken by this post -- the lull continues.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rukawat ke liye Khed hai

Yes, I am taking a break from blogging.

Yes, it has been great to see your comments on my comments on recent matters, but my time needs to be spent elsewhere.

Yes, work calls.

Yes, I'll be back - but not anytime soon.

Yes, watch out for my IM status messages to change to "I am back!" [but don't hold your breath].

and Yes, I will miss this [and I will miss you all].


Monday, May 08, 2006

The story of a car-dweller

The Los Angeles Times has this article today about a lady who is living in her car for the past 8 years.

From the article:
When a reader in Playa del Rey suggested I track down Sevilla, I thought I'd find yet another L.A. story of hard luck in the shadow of conspicuous riches.

But this one stands out: a great-grandmother who worked her whole life, avoids trips to the doctor because she can't afford the Medicare deductibles and has to sleep with a foot on the brake.

Sevilla is from Long Beach but moved to Chicago with her husband. When the marriage came apart in the late 1960s, she raised her three kids by working as an interior designer. She returned to California in 1989, following two of her children, but found it difficult to get decent pay for honest work. She wondered if her age — mid-50s at the time — was beginning to weigh against her.

A daughter took her in, but the apartment was cramped and Sevilla felt uncomfortable about imposing. When the daughter got married, Sevilla packed her bags, determined to make it on her own and confident that she would.

"It's my responsibility to take care of myself," she said, but that was easier said than done. She found part-time jobs, but with a developing heart condition, she couldn't be on her feet for more than a few hours at a time.

For a while, she ended up sacked out at her son's place in Irvine. But he had been in a terrible car accident, suffered brain damage and felt horribly depressed about the burden he'd become.

On Christmas Eve in 1998, Sevilla asked him to accompany her to church, but he wasn't feeling up to it. The next day, he went off by himself, put a gun to his head and took his life. He was 40.

That's when Sevilla found herself living in the car, wounded, distraught, scared.

So, what does she do? She works as a part-time receptionist at a local paper, making $10 an hour.

After she gets off work, Sevilla motors over to the El Segundo Public Library on Main Street to work on her drawings. Employees and patrons were so impressed, they began bringing in photos for her to sketch, and she's good enough to command $60 for a print. For an additional $20, she'll make 12 postcards on handsome stock, using her laptop as a print shop.

A moving story, I wonder if I can do something for her [I am sure this woman will not accept donations, and I do not have enough for $60 paintings. Maybe I should track her down and become her computer-repairman :-).

Kudos to Steve Lopez for covering these stories of real life fighters!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Removing the "A" from Ahimsa

Was reading thru the Vadodhara incident reports, and a question came to my mind - what causes a peaceful protest against the demolition of a mazaar to turn into a communal riot?

A fictional situation [please pardon the filmi-style]:

crowd - please don't break the Mazaar, it is 200 years old and before your municipal times, this is not the definition of enchroachment
police - we cannot help it, the court has ordered, and we have destroyed temples also
crowd - please don't [grows in number]
police - no. Please move away

[you expect a peaceful event, possibly stalling the movement enough to get a stay order and proper investigation]

random miscreant in crowd - you *&%#$ policeman! [flings a stone/bottle/projectile]
police - lathicharge! [and shots to the legs]

so, the police lathicharge starts, possibly justified, but very unfortunate nonetheless.

Policeman A [cornering random simpleminded shopkeeper] - hey you, with the skullcap, you seem to be a muslim, why don't you all go back to Pakistan
Random Shopkeeper - Kya baat karte ho sahab, Hum bhi hindustani hai!
Policeman A - Sab samajhta hoon, you muslims will never become better! [hits with laathi/shoots in leg] [after all, today is the day the cop can be violent, and noone will question his acts - good time to get out ones frustrations]

Random Shopkeeper [hereforth referred to as Raheem Chacha] dies/becomes seriously injured.

Random Power-hungry Muslim leader - These Hindus will never listen to us Muslims, lets burn some buses!
Crowd - um... what?
Other jobless warm-blooded idiots - yes yes, they have hurt Raheem Chacha, I listened to him saying that he was hurt because of his skull cap - we must teach these hindus a lesson!
Crowd - um... well..
Local Leaders - no "um... well", have you forgotten what happened some years ago all over the state? If we don't act fast, we will be burned again!!! Here are the swords/laathis/random-weapons -- lets go and torch some hindu shops!!!

[riots ensue]

The rest, as they say, is the present!

So, who is to blame, no doubt the fundamentalist leaders who instigate the crowd, and the policeman who lets his sentiments get the better of him and comes down from his position of responsibilites.

Whoever it is, it is NOT the common man, who wants to only go about usual business, and earn his daily bread. I think it is time for me to watch Dev again.

Praying for situations to calm down soon,
P.S. Anyone up for making a skit/play/street-play on the above script and educating the public? You are guaranteed a donation from my side for production costs.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What is "holy" in this war?

Yes, the LeT people have struck again.

From the article:
DODA: In a desperate bid to derail a fledgling peace process, terrorists struck with a numbing carnage two days before a round-table conference on the Kashmir issue was to start.

At the end of J&K's bloodiest massacre in three years, the toll stood at 32 dead, including a six-year-old, and about a dozen wounded.


They stormed into homes in Kulhand and herded terrified residents of two hamlets in Kulhand area into village headmen's homes, saying there was an important announcement. Then they mowed them down with a hail of bullets.

I wonder what it takes to brainwash youth to believe that killing innocent people is holy? Maybe if they were educated, they would read the holy books themselves and realize that this is not what the almighty asked them to do.