Monday, February 28, 2005
Spent the weekend in Mumbai (Bombay)
with good friends Charmaine and Vernon. They showed me the hotspots around the suburb of Powai. Friday night, it was dinner at Aura's with a Filapino girl band crooning away. I think Indians are giving the Japanese a run with regards to kareoke. On Saturday, it was Chinese and then Constantine at the big screen. Downtown Bombay is actually a VERY crowded peninsula and on Sunday, they took me to buffet lunch near the waterfront at All That Jazz By The Bay. While Charmaine power-shopped, Vernie and I found the Bombay Bullet Club hanging by the beach. We finished up the night with The Aviator.
After a few hours sleep, I'm heading for the "Venice of Europe". And spreading Georges.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
India's own Urban Legend?
Perhaps you've heard of Saurabh Singh, the 17 year old boy from the northern State of UP (Uttar Pradesh), who earlier this month topped NASA's International Scientist Discovery exam? Mass media has compared him with India's brilliant President A P J Abdul Kalam who supposedly scored 7th in his youth and deceased American astronaut Kalpana Chawla who scored 21st in her time.
Everybody wants to meet the boy, but his face time with the President and PM Manmohan Singh was suddenly cancelled this week when NASA spokesperson Debia Rahn announced "there is no such exam". With interesting timing, President's office is now saying that Kalam has never taken any such exam.
The district magistrate in UP is now investigating the boy's claim. I hope we hear better things for the young man's future, maybe politics ;^)
Sunday, February 20, 2005
How to compete with Chennai, India outsourcing
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em:
1. Allow your software industries exemption from maintaining a register of working
hours, including overtime performed by employees.
2. Further exempt your businesses from the Shops and Establishments Act
regarding 8 hr days and 48 hr weeks.
3. Amend any requirement that establishments close once a week.
However, the Tamil Nadu (Indian state) Government can cancel their exemptions given to IT industries "if any genuine complaints are received from employees". Also on the list of priorities, Government further mandates that company nameboards be worded in the local Tamil language.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Ready to move beyond SETI@Home?
Distributed processing is now an asset for GCMs (General Circulation Models). Climate systems are chaotic and require large arrays of CPU power to analyse. Join 34,000 others who contribute their idle background PC power to ClimatePrediction.net.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
How the 26 DEC earthquake/tsunami affects your geek self
Due to shifting continental plates, the Earth's radius was slightly expanded and the planet now rotates more slowly, increasing the length of your day by 2.68 microseconds. And for sailors, be careful with your compass as the North Pole has shifted 2.5cm towards 145 east longitude and the rotational change alters the Coriolis Force behind prevailing wind, ocean currents, etc.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Chennai, India Emission (or Omission) Testing?
According to the Indian Express, over 28% of the city's 140 vehicle pollution test centers have closed in the last year due to lack of business. Why? Don't the Police and Transport departments take the check seriously? Do my fellow drivers have no conscience for the environment their children will inherit? Is it another case of baksheesh clouding everyone's sensibility?
It's reported that 60% of 16 lakh (16,00,000) vehicles are not inspected. Personally, I think there are more vehicles here in India's 4th largest city with 60-80 lakh people. Maybe that's the count of registered vehicles in a culture where flaunting the law is a national sport, only falling behind field hockey and chess. People: the testing fee that might save your planet is Rs. 30 ($0.65) for motorcycles and Rs. 50 for 4-wheelers (including SUVs and trucks adulterating their petrol with kerosene).
Here's a tip: put pressure on the government (and each other) to make vehicle pollution testing an integral part of insuring AND registering your ride.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Yeah, I plogged that line, so what do you expect from the aftermath of Krib's Vodka Party?
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Something "fishy" going on in Chennai, India
Rumors abound that seafood from the post-tsunami ocean is unsafe to eat. There's even been foolish SMS-spam promoting the distrust via mobile (cellphone). Local hotels (restaurants) are making a great contribution to dispel those myths with a seafood promotion from 07-13 FEB. Buy one seafood, get the next free at
Zara Tapa Bar (thumbs up from YardBoy)
The Noodle House
Benjarong (ummm, Thai)
Wang's Kitchen's (Adyar, Anna Nagar, Egmore)
Sunday, February 06, 2005
New England vs. Philadelphia in the Super Bowl?
My bet: Patriots minus 3 wickets ;^)
Thank dog for U.S. Consulate friends. Their company gets them Armed Forces Network.
The "King of Good Flights"?
UB, United Breweries, has announced Kingfisher Airlines to take off May 7. The airline will fly new Airbus A320s and promises every seat will be branded "Kingfisher Class":
- individual inflight access to videos and music
- different designer interiors for each aircraft
- a Moving Map channel showing present position, airspeed, altitude and flight time remaining
Ummmm, sounds like the discount Jet Blue airline flying out of New York.
I'm no stranger to UB's Kingfisher lager. In my opinion, it's the least evil of Indian beers and someday, it's brewers may discover better (if any) hops. You can read other reviews of the malted beverage. Maybe every seat on the airline will include a 650ml bottle, better known in ethnic U.S. neighborhoods as a "40".
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Email from friends and lovers
In a moment of CFS (Compulsive Forwarding Syndrome), my parents sent the following from Soldiers For The Truth.
Guest Column: No Relief in Sight for the Lincoln
By Ed Stanton
It has been three weeks since my ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln, arrived off the Sumatran coast to aid the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami that ravaged their coastline. I’d like to say that this has been a rewarding experience for us, but it has not: Instead, it has been a frustrating and needlessly dangerous exercise made even more difficult by the Indonesian government and a traveling circus of so-called aid workers who have invaded our spaces.
What really irritated me was a scene I witnessed in the Lincoln’s wardroom a few days ago. I went in for breakfast as I usually do, expecting to see the usual crowd of ship’s company officers in khakis and air wing aviators in flight suits, drinking coffee and exchanging rumors about when our ongoing humanitarian mission in Sumatra is going to end.
What I saw instead was a mob of civilians sitting around like they owned the place. They wore various colored vests with logos on the back including Save The Children, World Health Organization and the dreaded baby blue vest of the United Nations. Mixed in with this crowd were a bunch of reporters, cameramen and Indonesian military officers in uniform. They all carried cameras, sunglasses and fanny packs like tourists on their way to Disneyland.
My warship had been transformed into a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders overnight.
As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of “Nice china, really makes me feel special,” in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives. That plus the fact that he had no business being there in the first place.
My attitude towards these unwanted no-loads grew steadily worse that day as I learned more from one of our junior officers who was assigned to escort a group of them. It turns out that they had come to Indonesia to “assess the damage” from the Dec. 26 tsunami.
Well, they could have turned on any TV in the world and seen that the damage was total devastation. When they got to Sumatra with no plan, no logistics support and no five-star hotels to stay in, they threw themselves on the mercy of the U.S. Navy, which, unfortunately, took them in. I guess our senior brass was hoping for some good PR since this was about the time that the U.N. was calling the United States “stingy” with our relief donations.
As a result of having to host these people, our severely over-tasked SH-60 Seahawk helos, which were carrying tons of food and water every day to the most inaccessible places in and around Banda Aceh, are now used in great part to ferry these “relief workers” from place to place every day and bring them back to their guest bedrooms on the Lincoln at night. Despite their avowed dedication to helping the victims, these relief workers will not spend the night in-country, and have made us their guardians by default.
When our wardroom treasurer approached the leader of the relief group and asked him who was paying the mess bill for all the meals they ate, the fellow replied, “We aren’t paying, you can try to bill the U.N. if you want to.”
In addition to the relief workers, we routinely get tasked with hauling around reporters and various low-level “VIPs,” which further wastes valuable helo lift that could be used to carry supplies. We had to dedicate two helos and a C-2 cargo plane for America-hater Dan Rather and his entourage of door holders and briefcase carriers from CBS News. Another camera crew was from MTV. I doubt if we’ll get any good PR from them, since the cable channel is banned in Muslim countries. We also had to dedicate a helo and crew to fly around the vice mayor of Phoenix, Ariz., one day. Everyone wants in on the action.
As for the Indonesian officers, while their job is apparently to encourage our leaving as soon as possible, all they seem to do in the meantime is smoke cigarettes. They want our money and our help but they don’t want their population to see that Americans are doing far more for them in two weeks than their own government has ever done or will ever do for them.
To add a kick in the face to the USA and the Lincoln, the Indonesian government announced it would not allow us to use their airspace for routine training and flight proficiency operations while we are saving the lives of their people, some of whom are wearing Osama bin Ladin T-shirts as they grab at our food and water. The ship has to steam out into international waters to launch and recover jets, which makes our helos have to fly longer distances and burn more fuel.
What is even worse than trying to help people who totally reject everything we stand for is that our combat readiness has suffered for it.
An aircraft carrier is an instrument of national policy and the big stick she carries is her air wing. An air wing has a set of very demanding skills and they are highly perishable. We train hard every day at sea to conduct actual air strikes, air defense, maritime surveillance, close air support and many other missions – not to mention taking off and landing on a ship at sea.
Our safety regulations state that if a pilot does not get a night carrier landing every seven days, he has to be re-qualified to land on the ship. Today we have pilots who have now been over 25 days without a trap due to being unable to use Indonesian airspace to train. Normally it is when we are at sea that our readiness is at its very peak. Thanks to the Indonesian government, we have to waive our own safety rules just to get our pilots off the deck.
In other words, the longer we stay here helping these people, the more dangerous it gets for us to operate. We have already lost one helicopter, which crashed in Banda Aceh while taking sailors ashore to unload supplies from the C-130s. There were no relief workers on that one.
I’m all for helping the less fortunate, but it is time to give this mission to somebody other than the U.S. Navy. Our ship was supposed to be home on Feb. 3 and now we have no idea how long we will be here. American taxpayers are spending millions per day to keep this ship at sea and getting no training value out of it. As a result, we will come home in a lower state of readiness than when we left due to the lack of flying while supporting the tsunami relief effort.
I hope we get some good PR in the Muslim world out of it. After all, this is Americans saving the lives of Muslims. I have my doubts.
Ed Stanton is the pen name of a career U.S. Navy officer currently serving with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group. Send Feedback responses to firstname.lastname@example.org."