Archive

Archive for February, 2012

The Straight Dope: why is prostitution called the oldest profession?

February 27, 2012 5 comments

Worlds’s oldest profession is a little over 100 years old.

Prostitution - A Smart Career Choice  |  Source - Internet; Category - T-Shirt Humour - Funny Prostitution

Prostitution - A Smart Career Choice | Source - Internet; Category - T-Shirt Humour - Funny Prostitution

for the details I turned to Barry Popik, chairman of the Straight Dope philology department. He responded with a new post to his word-origins blog, at barrypopik.com. Based on this we construct the following account:

1. The originator of the notion of prostitution as the oldest profession was Rudyard Kipling. His 1888 short story “On the City Wall” begins: “Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world. … In the West, people say rude things of Lalun’s profession, and write lectures about it and distribute the lectures to young persons in order that Morality may be preserved.” Lalun is, of course, a hooker.

2. Kipling, as is the wont of authors, wasn’t offering a learned insight into the labor markets of antiquity but rather making a quip.

3. It was, however, a quip with legs. Previously the oldest profession was generally considered to be farming. For example, Popik notes, in 1883 the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald proclaimed, “In fact agriculture is the first and best as well as the oldest profession.” (via The Straight Dope: Is excess American body fat a potential energy resource? Plus: why is prostitution called the oldest profession?).

Going USA

Kipling’s biggest successes were his books on India.

Strangely, after Kipling emigrated to the US, he worked hard to completely erase his Indian Connection. He tried his hand at ‘white’ themes like Captains Courageous (1897). But, what became famous were his ‘Indian’ books like Kim and The Light That Failed (1890).

Probably, more a reflection on American society, than on Kipling.

Drop of tar

A few decades after Kipling went to America, came the story of Merle Oberon.

A part-Indian actress in Hollywood, Merle Oberon’s biggest struggle was to overcome the ‘drop of tar’ in her blood. Merle Oberon’s nephew, Micahel Korda, used her story to get a book commission, Queenie, that was also made into a movie. There is more in Michael Korda’s insipid novel, Queenie. Her great niece, Shelley Conn, is being cast by Spielberg – whose ET was ‘co-incidentally’ similar to a Satyajit Rai script.).

Wondering

Coming back to the world’s oldest profession. After giving all possible benefit of doubt to Kipling, still, it does not stop me from wondering.

Was Kipling’s ‘Lalun’ character from the world’s oldest profession, based on Kipling’s lack of respect for India.


Advertisements

India was better off under British rule: Mohan Bhagwat – The Times of India

February 22, 2012 8 comments

What can children do, which Mohan Bhagwat cannot do? Why is the head of India’s largest social organization (maybe even the world’s) feeling so helpless?

Anna and RSS  |  Cartoonist - R Prasad; source-nrisecularvoice.blogspot.com  |  Clik for larger image.

Anna and RSS | Cartoonist - R Prasad; source-nrisecularvoice.blogspot.com | Clik for larger image.

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said,

“After Independence, the dominance of rich and powerful people in politics and rising inflation have worsened the country’s situation, which is worse than what it was during the British rule.”

Speaking at a function organized by Bhonsala Military School (BMS) to celebrate its platinum jubilee year in Nashik on Monday, Bhagwat said, “All political parties were in power some or the other time during the last 64 years since Independence, but the situation has not improved. Hence, citizens must introspect over what went wrong.”

Stating the importance of imparting education through the mother tongue, he said, “Today, there is an insistence on education in a foreign language (English), instead of education in the mother tongue. As a result, the importance of the foreign language has increased to a large extent in the country.” (via India was better off under British rule: Mohan Bhagwat – The Times of India).

Why the RSS chief feeling so helpless?  What can those children do?  |  Cartoonist Surendra in The Hindu; image source & courtesy - churumuri.wordpress.com  |  Click for source image.

Why the RSS chief feeling so helpless? What can those children do? | Cartoonist Surendra in The Hindu; image source & courtesy - churumuri.wordpress.com | Click for source image.

Defeatist rhetoric

Just what is the logic of making defeatist statements like this, Shri Bhagwat? Forget children, this cannot be said even to adults.

Unless … one has data.

Has concentration of wealth been increasing? There is some evidence to show an uptick in that trend in the last 20 years – compared to the earlier 20 years. Or to some other countries.

But a comparison of the Indian economy during the colonial period and now in terms of concentration of wealth has not been adequately researched or studied.

Simple test

Even without any econometric data, there is a simple way to test the quality of British administrators. If the British were indeed, such great administrators, why is Britain itself in such bad shape?

I wonder on what basis Bhagwat has planted this idea in the minds of school children at Nashik?

If Shri Bhagwat, the head of India’s largest social organization is feeling so defeated, he should shut down RSS. Why is he not activating his cadres to change this. If RSS can support Anna Hazare’s hare-brained ideas, why are they so lost here?

Is Mohan Bhagwat wanting the return of British rule?


New Delhi NDM-1 superbug: Indian scientists nail British hoax

February 20, 2012 3 comments

The NDM-1 saga plays out as expected. A British farce thinly veiled as science.

How resistant mutations areise  |  Image source & courtesy - missashleypants.com  |  Click for image.

How resistant mutations areise | Image source & courtesy - missashleypants.com | Click for image.

In a short period of 80 years, disease causing organisms are developing resistance to most antibiotics  |  Cartoon source & courtesy - cspinet.org  |  Click for image.

In a short period of 80 years, disease causing organisms are developing resistance to most antibiotics | Cartoon source & courtesy - cspinet.org | Click for image.

The story so far

First was the clandestine removal of samples from New Delhi. Second was inadequate data on the origin.

India has hit out at the study, which it said was funded by pharma companies that make antibiotics to treat such cases.

While the Union health ministry issued a statement on Thursday which also takes offence to the naming of the bug after the national capital, the paper’s Chennai-based lead author Karthikeyan Kumarasamy dissociated himself from parts of the report.

“The study was funded by the European Union and two pharmaceutical companies, Wellcome Trust and Wyeth, which produce antibiotics for treatment of such cases. It also needs to be highlighted that several of the authors have declared conflict of interest in the publication,” the health ministry said.

Doctors have criticised the report, saying it appeared to be aimed at hitting at India’s booming medical tourism that was taking away business from the West.

Kumarasamy said he had not written many of the interpretations in the report; they were added later without his permission or knowledge. “I do not agree with the last paragraph which advises people to avoid elective surgeries in India. While I did the scientific work, correspondence author Timothy R Walsh of Cardiff University was assigned to edit the report,” Kumarasamy (said).

Walsh has been quoted in British media as advising people to “think long and hard” before making a decision to undergo treatment in Indian hospitals. Incidentally, the Lancet report comes close on the heels of International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ranking India among the top five destinations for cosmetic surgery. Walsh was not reachable over the phone.

Kumarasamy said the report pained him. “It was too small a sample to extrapolate. My intention was to find out whether such multi-resistant bacteria existed in India. We see several such strains of multi-drug resistant bacteria across the world,” Kumarasamy added. (via India trashes ‘superbug’ report, says it’s doctored – The Times of India).

How modern 'medicine' works?  |  Cartoonist - John McPherson; source & courtesy - placeboweb.org  |  Click for larger image.

How modern 'medicine' works? | Cartoonist - John McPherson; source & courtesy - placeboweb.org | Click for larger image.

Then came reports of the same NDM-1 factor that was present in an Ontario patient who never travelled to Indiaor the Indian sub-continent.

Toleman said the bacteria was named ‘New Delhi-beta-lactamase’ first in an American journal called Antibiotic Agents and Chemotherapy in 2009 and the naming had nothing to do with Lancet.

“In fact our original paper was rejected by Lancet. Furthermore NDM-1 is the correct name and follows the naming of most genes of this type. Others are named SPM-1 for Sao Paulo metallo-b-lactamase, SIM for Seoul imipenemase in Korea, VIM for Veronna imipenemase in Italy, GIM for Germany imipenemase and DIM for Dutch imipenemas,” he said. (via India ‘supressing’ truth about presence of NDM-I, says Lancet – Indian Express).

These British scientists claimed that millions of Indians were infected – and the Indian government was suppressing facts – and Indian scientists.

International health journal Lancet has slammed the government for “suppressing” truth about the presence of a drug-resistant bacteria in Delhi’s public water system by “threatening” and “abusing” its own scientists.

It also dubbed as “unfortunate” the government’s denial of presence of such bacteria.

“Unfortunately the Indian government is in denial and actively suppresses the truth by threatening and abusing their own scientists,” the author said.

Asked about a senior health ministry official’s claim that the researchers transferred samples for the study illegally, Tony Kirby, the magazine’s press officer said, “We broke no Indian laws whatsoever.” (via India ‘supressing’ truth about NDM-I: Lancet – Economic Times).

A subsequent study at the PD Hinduja hospital found that the

drug-resistant superbug NDM-1 is not present in healthy population, rubbishing projections made by British scientists that millions of Indians may already be harbouring NDM-1.

Since its discovery in 2009, NDM-1 cases have been reported from several countries across the world but all of them are from among hospital-acquired infections. The naming of the bug after New Delhi had also become controversial.

The new Indian finding assumes importance in view of fears that bacteria resistant to the most powerful antibiotics are no more restricted to patients in hospitals but may have also spread to healthy people in the community.

The study has been carried out by the same Mumbai group which first reported the presence of NDM-1 among hospital patients in 2010. For six months in 2011, scientists at the PD Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre looked for the presence of NDM-1 in stool samples of healthy individuals who had enrolled for routine health screening. NDM- 1 was not found in any of the 1,000 samples tested.

Though antibiotic resistance – measured in the form of Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamases (ESBLs) presence – has gone up compared to 2004, NDM-1 has not spread in general population, the study said.

ESBLs are enzymes that can be produced by bacteria making them resistant to antibiotics.

“Though the absence of NDM-1 is reassuring, it should not detract us from the need to implement strict infection- control measures and antimicrobial stewardship for resistant organisms,” observed Dr Camilla Rodrigues while reporting the findings in the latest issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.After finding the presence of NDM-1 in hospital samples, British scientists had reported the presence of the superbug in water samples collected from drains in Delhi. This led them to conclude the superbug had spread to the environment as well. (via Indian scientists nail New Delhi superbug lie : North News – India Today).

Why am I not surprised?


Multan’s 2000-year Sun Temple

February 18, 2012 20 comments

Multan was home to a 2000 year old Sun Temple, which seems to now live only in some forgotten corner of dusty books. One intrepid soul in Pakistan …

Narasimha Kills Hiranyakshipu  |  Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com  |  Click for source image.

Narasimha Kills Hiranyakshipu | Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com | Click for source image.

I found Pound weaving arcane elements like “sun worshipping” from Vedic mythology into his Cantos. But I didn’t yet know that he had summarised the golden saga of our glorious heritage in a couple of lines. Then I heard his poetic voice reciting this:

A thousand years before T’ang,
gothic arch out of India,
from Multan 700 li,
torchlight, at Multan, offer perfume,
Son of Herakles, Napat son of Waters,
Panch, that is Phoenician, Tyanu

Now earlier readings of Pound’s poetry had informed me that the “Son of Herakles, Napat son of Waters, Panch” were all versions of Assias – a famous ancient Aryan Vedic fire priest. But what was this “torchlight, at Multan”?

A quick look at the extant multi-volume literary reference works only revealed the following: ‘Multan is a place of worship mentioned in Waddell’s Indo-European Seals, which quotes a Buddhist pilgrim on “a temple dedicated to the Sun, very magnificent and profusely decorated,” which is also a ‘house of mercy’.”

I immediately decided to travel to Multan to find whatever it was that had been envisioned by our poet.

But days of wandering in the dusty and sultry town could offer no glimpse of anything close to “a temple dedicated to the Sun, very magnificent and profusely decorated”.

That was when a native student of Multan who was studying in my hometown gave me Ibn-e Haneef’s postal address, and suggested that I write him a letter. (via Welcome to The Friday Times – The holi temple by Sohaib Arshad – Pakistan’s First Independent Weekly Paper:www.thefridaytimes.com).

After nearly 2,000 years, Multan's Sun-Temple goes under - after its destruction in the 1990s  |  Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com  |  Click for larger source image.

After nearly 2,000 years, Multan's Sun-Temple goes under - after its destruction in the 1990s | Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com | Click for larger source image.

Each time a door closes, another window opens

For every Hafiz Saeed, there is also a Sohaib Arshad.

A mind with thirst, in a parched land. Searching for answers. In a history, clouded in dirt, grime, dust of hate, greed, war – and peace.

Interesting story. Of the flame and the keeper of the flame.

Anything on Ancient Observatories?

February 15, 2012 19 comments

Is there a common thread between these?

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/168668078203351040

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/168712032315650048

https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170048006706573313
https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170048726621097984
https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170049829244911616
https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170051784709124096
https://twitter.com/#!/KVSarmaJ/status/170052557228609536

In modern Afghanistan-Uzbekistan region, at Ai Khanoum  – meaning ‘Moon Lady’ in Uzbek, was a remarkable archaeological find. This site was handled by King Zahir Shah, and excavated by Daniel Schlumberger, Director of a French archaeological team in Afghanistan. An extensive settlement, was excavated and quite a few gold and silver artefacts were recovered.

Another interesting find were two sundials, calibrated and indexed to the Indian city of Ujjain and to the city of Syene in Egypt .

EU to use drones for policing farmers

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

West manages a food surplus after spending close to US$ 100 billion in subsidies to their farmers. Can Western farmers compete with India and Africa without subsidies?

Why will the rich and powerful give up this easy money?  |  Cartoonist - Nick Anderson; on 2005-02-08; source & courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com  |  Click for larger source image.

Why will the rich and powerful give up this easy money? | Cartoonist - Nick Anderson; on 2005-02-08; source & courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com | Click for larger source image.

European skies are to become home to new drones. The remote–controlled unmanned aircraft are set to police Europe’s farmlands for possible cheating and law violation. The decision has sparked grave privacy concerns.

­Each year the European Union spends almost half of its budget on its Common Agricultural Policy. Europe’s farms and agricultural lands cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies.

Cases of fraudulent subsidy claims are many. But as the cheating gets more inventive, the agricultural inspectors get more technologically advanced.

EU regulators have in the past used satellites to keep an eye on those claiming subsidies. These provided aerial images of farmlands, which were searched for signs of possible subsidy cheating or breaches of environmental rules.

But satellite images proved a failure in unfavorable weather conditions and mountainous terrain. One case was even dropped in court due to insufficient satellite evidence.

In their quest for more reliable instruments, EU inspectors chose unmanned aerial vehicles.

Used mostly for combat missions and surveillance, the drones will now serve agricultural policing aims.

Reports suggest that France and Italy are already trying them out for this purpose. (via EU farm-policing drone plan sparks anger — RT).

Champions of ‘Free Trade’

This brings two issues to the fore.

Why do Western farmers need close to US$100 billion (EU subsidy-US$75 billion & US subsidy-US$25 billion) in subsidy to compete with African and Indian farmers? Remember shortages in Europe after WWII? Is that the future of the West?

Can there be ‘free trade’ with US$100 billion in subsidy?

Leaders of the ‘Free World’

Between Europe and USA, there are more CCTVs, data recording (telephone, internet, conversations, et al) than what any secret or any other type of police ever had. The West has the largest prison population in the history of mankind.

More than 2 million in US alone – and another half a million in EU. More than Russia (0.85 million) and China (15.5) combined.

The one big difference between China and Russia on one hand and the West on the other is paperwork. The West produces enormous paperwork, procedure, laws, lawyers, to convince so many people to keep so many people in prison. Unlike China and Russia – who are not yet so skilled at this kind of show.

Now the ‘Free’ World will spy on its own farmers.

Some freedom, this.


What does BAFTA celebrate?

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Probably the difference between non resident British and non-resident Indians!

%d bloggers like this: