Gujarat model: a Pakistani perspective

Gujarat provides 24/7 electricity (which should be part of a basket of benchmarks of a Minimally Developed State or MDS- our words). As per this measure Tamil Nadu is more similar to Pakistan.

Gujarat (Amdavad/Juhapura) has a partition wall between H/M ghettos– 2-nation theory as practiced in Gandhi-land (also Jinnah-land -both old and new).
OTOH Gujarat has been riot-free since 2002, while Dravida/Shudra/OBC factions belonging to Tamil Nadu ruling coalitions frequently organize mass riots against Dalits.

Gujarat resembles Pakistan most in its application of anti-alcohol dictates.

A Pakistani travels through India as the world’s biggest
democracy votes in the national elections. Follow his journey to know
what happens and all the people that he meets on the way.

Electricity in Gujarat is completely uninterrupted. Nobody knows what
load shedding means. It is unbelievable for a Pakistani who have only
known 24/7 pizza home delivery!
People complain that electricity in
Gujarat is more expensive than other states. I tried to compare it with
what I pay back there, though not a sound way, and was surprised that
most here pay not much if not less than me. But probably the more
important fact is that all of them do pay — Prime Minister House and
Chief Minister House included.

Women are the safest in Gujarat and you do not need witnesses to believe
It is evident. Just take a walk on the road side and you will see
women and young girls commuting all around freely and independently. I
was with a group late in the night out for an after dinner cup of tea
when a young female friend received phone call from her mother in Delhi.
“Mom says you are out so late. Ahmedabad is spoiling you,” she told her
friends and the party went on.

If development is a (political) party, then everyone is certainly not
invited. Nothing comes for free here and the fact that everyone cannot
pay is explained away in many ways. The poor remain unserved. But in
Ahmedabad there is another ‘class’ that remains unserved too — Muslims.

The picture is of a corner of Ahmedabad’s largest Muslim ghetto,
Juhapura. It has an estimated population of 200,000 and makes ends meet
without the state providing it any civic service.

The schism within: Ahmedabad’s biggest Muslim ghetto, Juhapura, is
separated from Hindu colonies by walls at most of the meeting points.
People tauntingly call it ‘the border of the mini-Pakistan’.
The walls
have not been constructed by the government but by the Hindu colonies
themselves and stand as the ‘concrete’ evidence of the deep divisions
that this state suffers from.

Housing apartheid: Each housing colony in Ahmedabad comes with a
religious label. Jains do not share living space with Hindus and Hindus
will hesitate giving their house on rent to Bengali Hindus who are not
vegetarians and exclusion of Muslims.

Communal ghettoisation: Juhapura is the biggest Muslim ghetto of
Ahmedabad. Though it looks like a slum, it is not an exclusive habitat
of poor Muslims. You can easily find impressive bungalows in every
street. Most of them took residence here after the 2002 anti-Muslim
riots as they do not feel secure living anywhere else.
Muslims do live
in other parts of the city but an increased tendency of living in close
clusters is more than evident everywhere in the city.

Election Commission in India is quite strict and all the stakeholders
have to take its words very seriously. I roamed around in Ahmedabad on
the polling day i.e. 30 April. The security staff at polling stations
was vigilant and their understanding of their election duties was
A security man stopped a young man with a party flag in this
hands at the gate telling him to hide it as electioneering is not
permitted on polling day.

Under Indian election laws, electioneering has to be seized 48 hours
before the polling. I took a round of the city of Ahmedabad a day before
polling. There was nothing anywhere that could tell that there was
campaigning going on in the city. Billboards of the parties were taken
down as soon as the deadline expired and the only visible reminders of
elections were the Election Commission’s advertisements calling people
to vote.

Ahmedabadis are food fanatics. Every believer carries a list of items
that he/she cannot eat. While some would want to ensure that their
muffin do not contain any animal-based ingredient, everyone is not this
strict. Food ‘edicts’ reflect in socialisation as well in many
interesting ways as people cross boundaries to express their affection
for their friends from the other side of the divide or as a sign of
rebellion from their traditions. But others, like myself, are just
adventurous foodies.

Jains are the most finicky about what not to eat. If one goes by the
book, their negative list includes all animal-based products and
everything that grows under ground. So they don’t eat meat of any kind,
eggs, onions, garlic, etc. They have their grocery stores and won’t eat
out at places that serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. But a
friend jokingly told me that if you prepare chicken without onions and
garlic, it is called Jain chicken!

Cricket wars: Like most other parts of South Asia, cricket is a craze in
Ahmedabad too. But for Muslims here, it comes with a pinch of salt.
Their reactions to matches between India and Pakistan are closely
watched by others and any celebration of Pakistan’s success is seen as
‘an act of treason’.
“If I support Ricky Ponting, they have no problem
but any praise for Afridi’s sixer can make my Indian credentials
questionable,” said a Muslim school teacher in Ahmedabad.

There are many Muslim localities in old Ahmedabad city that has some impressive heritage sites.

Board game at Rani’s Hajira (probably meaning, hujra/living quarter) in
Ahmedabad old city. In Muslim localities, people were more apprehensive
about being photographed and these included not the women but younger
men. Every other person here has a story of police harassment to tell.

Gujarat is the only major state in India that is dry — alcohol trade is
banned. People belonging to other states and residing here get some
legal relaxation
but public drinking is not a norm. Alcohol though is
smuggled from other states, especially from Rajasthan. On this Ahmedabad
road, you can however stop to enjoy soft drinks at the cart that has
named itself Kashmiri Soda Center.


A (muslim) man walks into a (hindu) barber-shop

A poignant film by Shlok Sharma. We advise viewer discretion.

It must be made compulsory viewing by all people who believe that dividing people by caste, religion, language and all other identity markers is a good thing. Remember, everytime you think you are winning by use of this strategy you are actually losing. When the genie gets out of the bottle it may wait to kill you till the (bitter) end but that will be a poor consolation prize.

South Asians should come together and deal with all the issues openly or be condemned to fight it out forever. Hindus have already been wiped out from a large part of the sub-continent, now it is the turn of muslims in India and the wrong muslims in Pakistan.


“This is like Titanic”

It is exactly like Titanic in the degree of utter contemptible manner in which the tragedy transpired and in its aftermath.


The disturbing video footage from inside the Sewol ferry was released
to South Korean television by the Park Su-hyeon’s father, Park
Jong-dae. Park Su-hyeon’s body was recovered from the vessel by South
Korean coast guard rescuers.

The group of teens in the video alternates between bluster, attempts at humor and unmistakable fear.
one can be seen wearing a life jacket at the beginning of the video
clips, which start at 8:52 a.m. and end, with a small break between
them, at 9:09, when everyone appears to be wearing them.

As the ferry lists, they joke about “final commemorative pictures” and “defying gravity” by trying to walk on the walls.

footage shows the students expressing fears about the ship’s fate as
other students appear to be unaware of the seriousness of the events
unfolding. One student can be heard saying “This is fun” and another
says “This is like Titanic.”

The ferry then starts to list and shake. One of the boys can be heard saying: “I want to get off. We don’t want to die.”

Airing the footage television producer Choi Seung-ho
described it as “by far the most heartbreaking scene I have seen in my
27-year broadcasting career.”

Several times the students are
warned over the loudspeaker to stay where they are, even as the tilting
increases and it becomes less possible for them to flee.

“I’m really scared,” a student says at one point.
“Is it really sinking?” another asks. “Wow, they’re giving us life vests.”
“I’m getting out of here,” one says. “Me too, me too,” says another.
A student says: “We have to survive now.”
“We’re all finished. I have to leave some farewell words before I die,” says another.
“Mom, I love you,” says one.



Jati Shatru (enemy of your own people)

The thinking prevalent in pre-modern countries such as India is that if you (especially as a woman) do not fall in line with the wishes of the members of your community (guided by a khap leader or sarpanch) then you will pay for your sins with your body and that of your near and dear ones.

If the allegations below are true, then this incident is a new low in the election season which has already seen intolerance at the deepest levels (from all sides).
A Muslim woman in eastern India has alleged she was
gang-raped by more than a dozen men because of her work helping the
Hindu nationalist opposition in ongoing elections, police said Tuesday.
woman from Jharkhand state has filed a complaint with police that a mob
attacked her in her home on Monday and also assaulted her 13-year-old
daughter. Her husband was allegedly handcuffed during the attack.

victim, in her 30s, was part of a so-called “minority” wing of the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) designed to attract Muslim voters to the
which is expected to sweep the ongoing polls. Few Muslims
are expected to vote for the BJP, which is being led by hardliner
Narendra Modi who remains tarnished by religious riots in his home state
of Gujarat in 2002.

Women’s issues are
high on the agenda in the parliamentary elections following the fatal
gang-rape of a student on a New Delhi bus in December 2012, which
touched off a national debate about sexual violence.
But fewer
than a fifth of the candidates standing for the BJP or the ruling
Congress party are women, according to an analysis by AFP.
In the current parliament women hold only 11 per cent of seats in both houses.

victim in Monday’s assault also alleged the attackers fled with 30,000
rupees (500 dollars) in cash and jewellery worth over 200,000 rupees.
Police inspector T. N. Singh in the police station closest to the victim’s home confirmed the gang-rape complaint to AFP. He said villagers had used the loudspeaker of the mosque to alert others to the assault, after which the attackers fled.


Refugees require relief (not crocodile tears)

Hindus are out-migrating from (mostly Hyderabad) Pakistan. The real heroes in this story are the activist/journalist Zulfikar Shah who was assisting minorities in Pakistan and had to leave as punishment and police officer Nahar Singh who is helping refugees find a foot-hold in a country which is not their home.

We need many more of such heroes, but we also need the political class (as well as the elites) to give serious attention to the refugee problem. Why are Tibetans welcome but not Hindus (or for that matter muslims) from Pakistan? Refugees do not have any one religion, but they are all mostly poor, honest people who are traumatized. We need to do much more to help them out.

weeks ago, 16-year-old Bharti Rai from Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan,
came to India on a one-way train ticket.
She doesn’t want to go back
ever alleging oppression, sexual harassment and persecution as a
religious minority across the border. Coming through Rajasthan, she is
currently in Bijwasan village in outer Delhi. She is among 37 other
Pakistani Hindu refugees who arrived in the village this month on a
tourist visa, hoping to get asylum in India.

While Bharti
arrived in the capital just two weeks ago, her brother, Gomadh Ram, a
former farm worker from New Hala town in Sindh, was one of the first few
who came to the capital back in 2011.
The 34-year-old crossed the
border on foot through Amritsar, and reached a settlement in the
capital’s Majnu ka Tila. He now sells fruits in Basai village for a
living. He recently got an extension of two years on his tourist visa.

Nahar Singh, a politically-connected local police officer, has been
helping such refugees for about three years now. Singh says he has taken
811 refugees under his wing since 2011. More than half of them made
their way to India in 2012 when the Kumbh Mela was held in Allahabad,
says Singh. He claims enjoying the support of right-wing organizations
such as VHP, RSS and the Shiv Sena. Hindus form about 2% of the
Pakistani population. The 2014 BJP manifesto has declared India ‘a
natural home for persecuted Hindus’, while the party’s prime ministerial
candidate, Narendra Modi, has reiterated support for Hindu refugees in
his speeches.

“Young women cannot step out of their homes in
the evening in Sindh for fear of sexual harassment. Hindu men can’t get
their hair cut from a Muslim barber’s shop. The two communities do not
even share water,” says Jamna, 40. Like many other women who have
accompanied her, Jamna goes only by her first name

On Monday
afternoon, the shelter, located in a non-functioning school in Bijwasan,
is buzzing with noise from excited children running in the corridors.
The men are away searching for work. The asylum seekers realize that
moving to India is not a panacea to their problems. “If we were
discriminated against for religion in Pakistan, here we are
discriminated against for being Pakistani. It is difficult to get
respectable work in private companies or factories,” says Gomadh Ram.

However, Chandrama, a middle-aged woman who arrived here with her three
sons, said, “At least one has access to justice here. That doesn’t
happen in Pakistan.”

Activist and former journalist Zulfiqar
Shah is also a Pakistani refugee in the capital, currently living on the
street near Jantar Mantar with his wife. Shah had worked on the denial
of human rights to the Hindu minority in Pakistan, and he alleges it was
one of the reasons why he was hounded out. “Roughly 500 Hindus leave
Pakistan every year. The elite go to Dubai, US or the UK. The poor
gravitate towards India,” says Shah.

The group that arrived in
Delhi comprises mostly of poor farm workers or well-off small business
owners. At least two of them, who have been here over a longer period,
have acquired Aadhaar cards, the details of which they are unable to

Last month, a temple in Larkana, Sindh, was set on
fire after rumours of a Hindu desecrating the Quran fanned communal
tension in the area. In March 2012, the case of Rinkle Kumari from Sindh
made international headlines after it was alleged that she was abducted
and forced to convert to Islam. …….  

Hindus from Pakistan often travel to India on one-month pilgrim
visas, purportedly to visit the innumerable Hindu holy places and
shrines around the country. But since 2011, the number of Pakistani
Hindus refusing to leave at the end of their stay has increased
dramatically in response to the easing of visa regulations by the Indian
government, which has announced that Hindus from Pakistan can get long
term visas if they follow certain rules.

Most hail from Pakistan’s Hyderabad province, home to the majority of
the country’s 2.5 million Hindus. Once in India, they can apply for
refugee or asylum seeker status. But if their applications are denied,
they can simply go on extending their visas.
Those who stay usually end up living in tents on land offered on a
temporary basis by religious groups or temples. But lack of
identification documents means no real jobs, limited income and no means
to benefit from state welfare schemes.

But religious freedom is meaningless unless Pakistani Hindus are
given legal status and allowed to hold legitimate jobs so that they can
provide adequately for their families, said Ram Das, a college graduate
who came to India in 2011. Like most other asylum seekers from Pakistan,
despite his education, Das now makes his living as a lowly street

“Wherever we go to look for better jobs, they ask for identity cards
and when we show them our Pakistan passports, they refuse us straight
away,” he said.

“We are neither Pakistanis nor Indians,” Das said, adding that the
Indian government is not responding to their repeated applications for
asylum or refugee status. “We get our visas extended, but how long can
we go on like that? At least give us refugee status.”

Overall, Pakistani Hindus have not benefited as much as other
migrants from Tibet, Myanmar and Afghanistan, who have been assisted by
the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

 India shelters
some 100,000 Tibetans, more than 110,000 Chin refugees, and some 250 who
have fled Afghanistan.

Mal says that he has filed several requests for financial help at the UNHCR office, but all of these have been rejected.

A spokesperson for UNHCR said it’s up to the Indian government to
decide whether or not to assist refugees and asylum seekers from

“In the absence of a national legal framework for refugees in India,
the UNHCR has an understanding with the government of India whereby the
government assists refugees and asylum seekers from close neighboring
countries” and UNHCR assists those from Myanmar and Afghanistan, Suchita
Mehta, UNHCR public information officer said in an e-mail to

So for now, Pakistani Hindus can only wait patiently and continue extending their visas.

“When God has saved us from the atrocities in Pakistan, he will
surely show us the way in India,” said 25-year-old asylum seeker
Bindiya. “Good days will come. It is just a matter of time.”



Chennai bombing suspect in custody

The suspect was held while hiding in the train (smart guys dont make mistakes like that). Naturally they will not disclose who he is and why they have booked him. But if he is truly a “person of interest” then we should expect rapid progress. There will be intense pressure to resolve this case quickly.

A woman passenger was killed and 11 others were injured, two of them
grievously, when two bombs went off on in
two coaches of the Guwahati-Bangalore Express at the Chennai Central
railway station.
….blasts took place at around 7:45 am in S-4 and S-5 sleeper coaches after
the train arrived at the platform number 9. It is believed that this was an IED bomb.
woman passenger traveling from Bangalore to Vijayawada died. She was
identified as 22-year-old Swati, who was slated to go further to Guntur.

Vijaywada is only six hours away from Chennai. Poor Swati, with her whole life ahead of her, lost her life because the train was running late (the bomb would have surely killed some other person).

First things first, we express our condolences for the victims and their families. Now for some uncharitable (but inevitable) thoughts. We are not sure what this atrocity is exactly meant to achieve. There are no sure-shot perps though suspicion will surely fall on islamists. In the middle of a highly contested election, this will probably assist the BJP. Elections are finished in Chennai/Tamil Nadu (and most of the South). Voting in coastal Andhra is scheduled for May 07. There are also many highly contested Northern seats, Varanasi being #1 amongst them.

The religious sword is a powerful and dangerous beast, difficult to place back once unleashed. Everyone has to be extra careful and the demagogues on all sides must be placed behind bars. Enough is enough.
10:43 am: 13 people have lower limb problem,1 has vascular injuries,1 brought dead: V. Sundaravalli, District Collector, Chennai.
10:35 am: A
passenger, who was traveling by the S3 coach, narrating his
experience, said, “I was awake and resting on my berth. At about 7.15
am, we heard some sound from the next coach. I came out of the coach and
saw what had happened in S4 and S5 coaches”.

10:23 am: Railway Minister Kharge assures help, offers Rs 1 lakh for kin of dead.

10:15 am:
A Special Investigation Team would probe the twin bomb blasts that
rocked the Bangalore-Guwahati Express: Tamil Nadu DGP K Ramanujam.

10:07 am: An ISI agent was arrested from Chennai two days ago.
10:05 am: Suspect was hiding inside the train for two hours after the twin explosions: Sources.
09:59 am: Tamil Nadu police nab a suspect who was hiding inside the Guwahati express: Sources.
09:58 am: Home Ministry has issued general alert to all railway stations after Chennai blasts: Sources.

Mice fear men (love women)

It is just like Saudi Arabia in reverse, men should not be exposed to mice unless accompanied by a woman.

Though it is just one study, we feel it makes sense. Cant really blame the mice, they are just looking for a mother’s love (dont we all). To solve this problem men should try to become good at mothering (it is not that hard, just requires commitment).


The history of
science is one chock-full of mice and men. Historically, biological and
medical research has largely depended on rodents, which provide
scientists with everything from cells and organs to behavioral data.
That’s why a new study in which researchers found that mice actually
fear men, but not women, has the potential to be so disruptive. It might
mean that a number of researchers have published mouse studies in which
their results reflect this male-induced stress effect
— and they know
nothing about it.

“People have not paid attention
to this in the entire history of scientific research of animals,” says
Jeffrey Mogil, a pain researcher at McGill University and lead author of
the study. “I think that it may have confounded, to whatever degree,
some very large subset of existing research.” Moreover, the effect
probably isn’t limited to behavioral studies, because the organs and
cells that are used in medical research, such as in cancer studies,
often originate in rodents. 

“If you’re doing a liver cell study, the
cells came from a rat that was sacrificed either by a man or a woman,”
Mogil says. As a result, “its stress levels would be in very different
states.” This, he says, could have an effect on the functioning of the
liver cell in that later experiment.

In the study, published today in Nature Methods,
researchers used the “mouse grimace scale” to measure pain responses in
rodents exposed to men, women, or their respective smells.
Pain is a
proxy for stress because stress can, to a large extent, numb pain. So
when the mice were confronted with the smell of men, they experienced
less pain, whereas the presence of women — or their smell, Mogil says —
“did nothing at all.”

This might seem like a
positive effect, but think of it this way: when athletes get hurt
during a stressful game, they often don’t feel the injury right away,
and they keep pushing. From an evolutionary standpoint, this is supposed
to keep them alive by helping them focus on something other than pain.
Yet in reality, it mostly just ends up making the injury worse.

But pain wasn’t the only
indicator of stress in this study. Further experiments showed that the
rodents also had increased body temperatures and levels of
corticosterone, a stress hormone, in response to the smell of men.
the effect wasn’t just prompted by human males, either. Rats and mice
“are afraid of the smell of males of any species,” Mogil says, because
the mice in this study reacted to the smell of male dogs, guinea pigs,
and cats as well.

The researchers think that mice
react this way because of competition, and not predation. Male mice are
territorial, Mogil says, even when it comes to females entering their
domain. They also compete with males for mating opportunities,
“so it’s
probably a little bit evolutionarily adaptive to have this effect until
you can determine that a male that’s around doesn’t actually mean you
any harm,” he says. In all likelihood, mice just haven’t developed a way
to discriminate between the smell of a male mouse and the smell of
other male mammals, so men also elicit a fear response.

Interestingly, the
stress response isn’t only dependent on the sex of an intruder, but also
on the circumstances of his or her approach. “If you put a male-worn
T-shirt and a female-worn T-shirt in the same room, the female T-shirt
counteracts the effect of a male T-shirt.”
This, Mogil says, indicates
that solitary males represent the real threat. “A lone male is up to no
good — either hunting or defending his territory.” 
Fortunately, the
male-induced stress effect becomes less pronounced over time, eventually
disappearing altogether. This, and the fact that women counteract the
effect, means there are a number of ways that researchers could prevent
it from showing up in data.


Safe jobs (2029)

Late in the 21st century there will be NO safe jobs. Everything hard will be done by computers, everything tedious, dirty, and dangerous by robots (including warfare). People will probably die of boredom, just sitting around at home and watching reality TV all day.
According to CareerCast’s “Best Jobs of 2014”
report, employers are paying big bucks to lure employees that
understand data, code and math (which really translates to “data

In fact, jobs that depend on these geeky skills comprise
half of the top 10 jobs of 2014.

Data analysis is so important to the modern enterprise, in fact, that one executive recruiter declared,
“In 15 years, if you don’t have a solid quant background, you might
have a permanent pink slip,” simply because “so much of decision-making
in corporations is going so quickly toward having a quant-foundation.”

Here are the top 10 jobs of 2014, along with the median income for the position:

  1. Mathematician / $101,360
  2. Tenured University Professor / $68,970
  3. Statistician /$75,560
  4. Actuary / $93,680
  5. Audiologist / $69,720
  6. Dental Hygienist / $70,210
  7. Software Engineer / $93,350
  8. Computer Systems Analyst / $79,680
  9. Occupational Therapist /$75,400
  10. Speech Pathologist / $69,870

Among the worst jobs of 2014 were the lumberjack (No. 200) and the
newspaper reporter (No. 199). While it’s unclear what the lumberjack
should do, famed statistician Nate Silver offers clear guidance for journalists: Learn to code.


Apollo babies (hackers) recover earth-rise

This beautiful pix showing earth-rise for the first time (and its companions) will certainly be a joy forever. One more proof that the world is being  ruled by hackers and we are just allowed to live in it (and gawp at their achievements).

The most recent and impressive ones are the Lost Lunar Orbiter (satellite) pictures from 1966. It is mind-boggling what the folks did in those early days with so little money and primitive technology. Space was the new frontier then, and that magic cant be recreated easily. If someone can do it, we bet it will be the hackers (aka techno-archaeologists). Take a bow, Keith Conning and Dennis Wingo.

Finally, we just got bit by the nostalga bug when we read about Usenet and Radio Shack. Good old days!!!
Sitting incongruously among the hangars
and laboratories of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the
squat facade of an old McDonald’s. You won’t get a burger there,
though–its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old
tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers
who’ve rechristened the place McMoon’s.
These self-described
techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize
forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data
tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken
from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise
(first slide above).
Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering
of the team at LOIRP, it’s being seen at a higher resolution than was
ever previously possible.

“We’re reaching back to a capability that existed but couldn’t be
touched back when it was created,” says Keith Cowing, co-lead and
founding member at LOIRP. “It’s like having a DVD in 1966, you can’t
play it. We had resolution of the earth of about a kilometer [per
pixel]. This is an image taken a quarter of a fucking million miles away
in 1966. The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment
it was being taken.”

Between 1966 and ’67, five Lunar Orbiters snapped pictures onto 70mm
film from about 30 miles above the moon. The satellites were sent mainly
to scout potential landing sites for manned moon missions. Each
satellite would point its dual lens Kodak camera at a target, snap a
picture, then develop the photograph. High- and low-resolution photos
were then scanned into strips called framelets using something akin to
an old fax machine reader.

The images were beamed in modulated signals to one of three receiving
stations in Australia, Spain, or California, where the pictures–and collateral chatter from the NASA operators–were
recorded straight to tape. After finishing their missions, the
satellites were unceremoniously dashed against the moon rocks, clearing
the way for Apollo. 

“These guys were operating right at the edge,” Cowing says with a
reverence for these NASA engineers that’s shared by his team. “There’s a
certain spy program heritage to all this, but these guys went above
that, because those spy satellites would send their images back. These
didn’t. They couldn’t. They were in lunar orbit.”

The photos were stored with remarkably high fidelity on the tapes,
but at the time had to be copied from projection screens onto paper,
sometimes at sizes so large that warehouses and even old churches were
rented out to hang them up. The results were pretty grainy, but clear
enough to identify landing sites and potential hazards. After the low-fi
printing, the tapes were shoved into boxes and forgotten.

They changed hands several times over the years, almost getting
tossed out before landing in storage in Moorpark, California. Several
abortive attempts were made to recover data from the tapes, which were
well kept, but it wasn’t until 2005 that NASA engineer Keith Cowing and
space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo
were able to bring the materials and the
technical know how together.

When they learned through a Usenet
group that former NASA employee Nancy Evans might have both the tapes
and the super-rare Ampex FR-900 drives needed to read them, they jumped
into action. They drove to Los Angeles, where the refrigerator-sized
drives were being stored in a backyard shed surrounded by chickens.
the same time, they retrieved the tapes from a storage unit in nearby
Moorpark, and things gradually began to take shape. Funding the project
out of pocket at first, they were consumed with figuring out how to
release the images trapped in the tapes.

“We’re both Apollo babies, so the moon to us was something that’s
unfinished business,” says Cowing. 

“These tapes were sealed for history
by somebody who cared, and it was astonishing the condition they were
in. So we started buying used parts on eBay, Radioshack–I was sitting at
a black tie reception at one point buying something on my iPhone.
just buy and reassemble these things bit by bit.”

The drives had to be rebuilt and in some cases completely
re-engineered using instruction manuals or the advice of people who used
to service them. The data they recovered then had to be demodulated and
digitized, which added more layers of technical difficulties.


The (im)moral Maharajah

Adultery in our opinion is not necessarily a moral crime (in the context of an open marriage). We doubt this was the case when the famous lady journalist hotted it up with the Maharajah of Raghogarh (Guna, Madhya Pradesh) but this will be settled between the private individuals and is not a public concern. Normally we would worry about the neutrality of news media when journalists gets into bed (literally in this case, figuratively for others) with politicians. However with the spread of paid news and other delights no one in India can pretend that news is in any way neutral. Also by the time one has filtered the bytes through the lens (multiple) of caste, class, religion, language, and region, one is at liberty to state that there is no objective truth.

That said, it is always delightful to catch politicians with their pants down, especially hyper-moralistic partisans like Digvijay Singh, who was taking pot-shots just yesterday at the Hindu Great Man (HGM). Now we have also been critical of the shabby manner in which Jashodaben has been treated but then we are not creepy, stinky, dirty old males jumping into bed with married females young enough to be our daughters.

We also hope that this is not going to be another tragic play like the Sunanda Pushkar story. We pray that the husband gets his pound of flesh out of the matter, nothing less than 10 crore in cash will do, a posh flat in Delhi, and yes, a Jaguar F-type (Car of the Year award from Playboy magazine). We do wish the (about to be) married couple happiness in their future life together.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s acceptance of his
“relationship” with a 43-year-old Rajya Sabha TV anchor and their plans
to marry created a political storm on Wednesday with the opposition BJP
and Aam Admi Party (AAP) targeting the 67-year-old former Madhya Pradesh
chief minister on “morality”.

Singh confirmed the relationship on Twitter a day after his pictures with Amrita Rai went viral on social media.

The senior Congress leader has made barbs over Narendra Modi’s
marital status recently.

Earlier in the afternoon, Singh had tweeted, “I have no hesitation in
accepting my relationship with Amrita Rai. She and her husband have
already filed a mutual consent divorce case.
Once that is decided we
would formalise it. But I do condemn encroachment in our private life.”

Rai too posted on Twitter: “I have separated from my husband and we have
filed a mutual consent divorce papers. After which I have decided to
marry with Digvijaya Singh.”  

She also tweeted, “My email/computer been hacked & contents tampered
with. It is a serious crime in India & encroachment of my privacy. I
strongly condemn it.”

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said, “A new definition of morality has
been given by the actions of senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh
Saheb. Those who preach lessons of morality should first look within
themselves to see if they are practising what they are preaching to
others. As far as the legal aspect of the matter of adultery is
concerned, it is up to the husband of the lady to pursue the matter.”

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Brown Pundits