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Arun Moncy
Works at IIT Madras
Attends Indian Institute of Technology Madras
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മത സൗഹാർദ്ദം എന്നത് അന്യ മതസ്തരെ സുഖിപ്പിക്കുക, തിരിച്ചു സുഖിപ്പിക്കാൻ അന്യ മതസ്തനും അവസരം നൽകുക എന്ന പരസ്പര സഹായ സഹകരണ ചൊറി മാന്തൽ പരിപാടിയായി , മതേതരത്വമായി, (സംങ്കുചിത ) മാനവികതയായി ആഘോഷിക്കുന്ന പൊതുബോധമാണ് നമുക്കുള്ളത്.

എല്ലാവരെയും മതത്തിൻ്റെയോ ജാതിയുടെ യോ ലേബലുകൊണ്ടു വേർത്തിരിച്ചു കാണുക, മനുഷ്യനായി കാണാതിരിക്കുക എന്നതു തന്നെയാണ് നമ്മുടെ സമൂഹത്തിൻ്റെ രോഗവും.

ഇക്കാര്യം വളരെ സ്പഷ്ടമായി, ഇന്നത്തെ മാതൃഭൂമിയിൽ പ്രൊഫസർ കാരശ്ശേരി വ്യക്തമാക്കിയിരിക്കുന്നു.
തീർച്ചയായും വായിക്കുക.

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Obstacle to urbanisation: 
What is perceived in Kerala as rapid urbanisation seems to be heading for some serious ecological and environmental consequences, which if left unresolved can become irreversible.

Kerala is undergoing the so called "rapid urbanisation" without some crucial basic infrastructure in place. Visibly there are tall buildings popping up and wider roads in some parts. Kochi will set the stage to become a metropolis with the state's first  elevated mass transit system. Although these changes do change the general outlook of the state, there are some underlying shortcomings that can stink up the whole system. Kerala lacks adequate sanitation and emergency rescue facilities. How are these two factors related. 

Kerala consumes a large amount of packaged food products that come in non bio-degradable (environmentally damaging) plastic packaging. There are currently no signs of this trend from reducing such packaging practice.  Huge piles of plastic waste can be seen  dumped all over cities and even villages. There seems to be some basic garbage collection in some cities but what happens to the plastic is still unclear. Human waste is another problem. Most sewage pumping stations have ancient equipment and do not function to full capacity. 

Government authorities do not seem to be enforcing the need to fulfil certain basic criterion before giving permits for constructing huge housing projects. Although less damaging, traditionally most five-to-ten-member families have had septic tanks that are basically walled shallow pits. Which inevitably leaks and pollutes the water table. Groundwater pollution is common all over the state yet this practice has continued unabated. 

Now lets get back to those tall building with 200 and 300 housing units popping up all over the state. Are there any real plans on how to process the sewage from these buildings? If there is a fire hazard or similar emergency, are there any rescue stations with resources to perform high rise rescue operations? Currently there are no fire stations within 20Km radius, equipped with even a single  telescopic access ladder capable of reaching the minimum 20 storey height in the entire state. Helicopters or available only with the Navy and that too in and around Kochi. 

Backup  generators to operate elevators during power outages have been known to fail.  Inspections from authorities on the safety and security features of these buildings are shoddy and always "bribed off" by building owners. 

Unless the state invests in infrastructure engineering projects, and lay out clear policies for construction of high rise buildings, Kerala will continue to remain a visibly urbanised state with little hope for the future or the environment. 
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Yes. Absolutely. I was also going a bit further to see the cause and a possible solution to the problem, which is the right of the people to question and make the responsible person pay the penalty for their doings. Right now the common man is frustrated. The pending cases seeking justice and the culprit preaching on the pulpit .. the common man is just a witness left in absolute dismay. 
By the way, though I said positively about US, I do not approve anything that America is doing now in Gaza.

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This shocking video will definitely send chills down your spine, watch:
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Richard Dawkins Foundation: 'Sixth sense' debunked with simple test. http://google.com/producer/s/CBIwgomPkBE
Piers Howe from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences has debunked the myth of having a "sixth sense" -- also known as ESP -- by carrying out what he claims to be the first scientific study proving people can reliably sense changes they cannot visually identify.
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I hope you know Conway's Game of Life, featuring a grid of white and black squares that change according to simple rules, but generate complicated patterns.  SmoothLife looks even more biological!  Watch this video, then learn more here:

• Stephan Rafler,  Generalization of Conway's "Game of Life" to a continuous domain - SmoothLife, http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.1567.

In the original Game of Life, whether a particular square is black or white on the next move depends on its current state and how many of its 8 neighbors are black now.   In her PhD thesis, Kellie Michele Evans generalized this to Larger Than Life, where relevant neighborhood is a large disk.  In the limit where this disk becomes large, we can think of each square as a single point.   

In SmoothLife, Rafler modified the game further by using the number of black squares in a smaller disk as a substitute for whether the point itself was black or white. 

You can see lots of videos of SmoothLife and related games here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL69EDA11384365494

Some of them are 3-dimensional!
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Lol. I thought this was called cognitive dissonance.
+Avinash Raju A nice read.
 
The ostrich effect

Why do people think ostriches stick their heads under the sand when they're scared?  A Roman named Pliny the Elder might be to blame.  He wrote that ostriches "imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed."  

That would be silly - birds aren't that dumb.  But people will actually pay to avoid learning unpleasant facts.  It seems irrational to avoid information that can help us survive.  But people do it.  It's called information aversion.

Here's a new experiment:

In order to gauge how information aversion affects health care, one group of researchers decided to look at how college students react to being tested for a sexually transmitted disease.

That's a subject a lot of students worry about, according to Josh Tasoff, an economist at Claremont Graduate University who led the study along with Ananda Ganguly, an associate professor of accounting at Claremont McKenna College.

The students were told they could get tested for the herpes simplex virus. It's a common disease that spreads via contact. And it has two forms: HSV1 and HSV2.

The type 1 herpes virus produces cold sores. It's unpleasant, but not as unpleasant as type 2, which targets the genitals. Ganguly says the college students were given information — graphic information — that made it clear which kind of HSV was worse.

"There were pictures of male and female genitalia with HSV2, guaranteed to kind of make them really not want to have the disease," Ganguly says.

Once the students understood what herpes does, they were told a blood test could find out if they had either form of the virus.

Now, in previous studies on information aversion it wasn't always clear why people declined information. So Tasoff and Ganguly designed the experiment to eliminate every extraneous reason someone might decline to get information.

First, they wanted to make sure that students weren't declining the test because they didn't want to have their blood drawn. Ganguly came up with a way to fix that: All of the students would have to get their blood drawn. If a student chose not to get tested, "we would draw 10 cc of their blood and in front of them have them pour it down the sink," Ganguly says.

The researchers also assured the students that if they elected to get the blood tested for HSV1 and HSV2, they would receive the results confidentially.

And to make triply sure that volunteers who said they didn't want the test were declining it to avoid the information, the researchers added one final catch. Those who didn't want to know if they had a sexually transmitted disease had to pay $10 to not have their blood tested.

So what did the students choose? Quite a few declined a test.

And while only 5 percent avoided the HSV1 test, three times as many avoided testing for the nastier form of herpes.

For those who didn't want to know, the most common explanation was that they felt the results might cause them unnecessary stress or anxiety.

Let's try extrapolating from this.  Global warming is pretty scary.  What would people do to avoid learning more about it?  You can't exactly pay scientists to not tell you about it.  But you can do lots of other things: not listen to them, pay people to contradict what they're saying, and so on.  And guess what?  People do all these things.

So, don't expect that scaring people about global warming will make them take action.  If a problem seems scary and hard to solve, many people will just avoid thinking about it..

Maybe a better approach is to tell people things they can do about global warming.  Even if these things aren't big enough to solve the problem, they can keep people engaged.

There's a tricky issue here.  I don't want people to think turning off the lights when they leave the room is enough to stop global warming.  That's a dangerous form of complacency.  But it's even worse if they decide global warming is such a big problem that there's no point in doing anything about it.  

The quote is from here:

• Shankar Vedantham, Why we think ignorance Is bliss, even when It hurts our health, http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/28/333945706/why-we-think-ignorance-is-bliss-even-when-it-hurts-our-health.

Here's the actual study:

• Ananda Ganguly and Joshua Tasoff, Fantasy and dread: the demand for information and the consumption utility of the future, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2370983.

The photo, probably fake, is from here:

http://www.ostrichheadinsand.com/
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If anyone is surprised about out new health minister's comments about condoms and sex education and the like, they should read his "vision". Some interesting excerpts:

1. "Ancient Indians were known to enjoy long and healthy lives when no technologies existed. Whatever they said or thought has proved to be correct no matter, which scientific scale one uses."

2. "To strengthen health education we carried over the concept of health to schools and introduced ' Compulsory Yoga and Positive Health Education' in schools and also initiated a value based calendar to promote and inculcate moral values among children at a tender age."

3. "A new and integrated holistic system of medicine is the need of the hour, which should incorporate the best of all systems including Ayurveda, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy, Homeopathy and our other ancient systems. These systems and their practitioners have served and healed the mankind for millennia and they cannot be ignored and dumped as unscientific and irrational."

4. "In the medical curriculum for first few years all systems such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Naturopathy may be taught and at the end of this term students can choose whichever option they like. We cannot afford to ignore the wisdom and sayings of our great ancestors who selflessly served the mankind and handed down to us a code of conduct on nutrition, daily habits, spirituality and strengthening the moral values to delay and forestall onset of ageing and illness."

5. "Individuals may be encouraged to assume responsibility for their own health by shedding negative habits like tobacco, alcohol, other substance abuse and adopting a positive behaviour by 'undertaking regular physical and Yogic exercises, going to bed early and waking up early; this brings a person in contact with cosmic energy of the rising sun and may ensure restoration and proper functioning of endocrinal system."

6. "People may be persuaded to consuming a balanced, nutritive and vegetarian diet as recommended by our ancestors (Hit Bhug, Mit Bhug, Kal Bhug; Eating what is beneficial, in small quantity and at proper time), paying attention to food and kitchen sanitation, hygiene practiced by the cook, and disposing off the wastes properly, offering leftovers to other living creatures, worshipping plants and trees, showing care and compassion to one and all as advocated in our scriptures."

7. "AAHAR, NIDRA, BRAHMCHARYA deserve emphasis", "Be a Vegetarian", "Observe Celibacy", "Unity of Spirit with God through Yoga"

Looks like he gets Baba Ramdev to help out with his website.
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Richard Dawkins Foundation: The destruction of the idols: Syria’s patrimony at risk from extremists. http://google.com/producer/s/CBIw_4iPkBE
The country’s wealth of archaeological treasures is under threat both from iconoclastic Islamic fundamentalists and looters operating amid the lawlessness of war.
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Anarchism
Cody Wilson, 26, made news when he uploaded plans for the Liberator – a 3D gun. It has been downloaded 100,000 times
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