Saturday, February 24, 2007

Circumcision can prevent AIDS?

A total of 2,784 HIV-negative, uncircumcised men aged 18-24 years for two years living in an area where an estimated 26 percent of uncircumcised men are infected with HIV by age 25 were studied over a period of two years. Out of the total, 1,393 volunteered to be circumcised. Over the two year period, their health was monitored and all received free HIV testing and counseling, medical care, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, condoms and behavioral risk counseling during periodic assessments. 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men contracted HIV during the two-year study, compared with 22 of the 1,393 circumcised men.

Circumcised men may feel like they are protected from HIV and may be therefore more likely to engage in risky behavior.

As much as this is good information, the results can be misleading. No details are mentioned of how the 69 (47 + 22) men may have contracted HIV. There is no explicit mention, but i guess the assumption is made that all men had the same frequency of/exposure to sexual activity or infected needles or blood transfusions. I hope that is not the case because that is an incredibly stupid assumption. How can 2,784 men exhibit similiar behaviour in areas as vague as these? Some may have been sexually less promiscuous or less frequent in their exposure to needles or blood transfusions, unless their regular patterns of behaviour were controllably restricted or augmented to provide some uniformity to the sample under study.

We like to hear whatever is pleasing to the ears, and see only that which is a sight to behold. However, reality does not always conform to our standards of beauty and brilliance. Reality is what it is, and not what we would want it to be. Hence it is imperative that with issues of HIV and AIDS that are a serious concern for our generation and those that will follow, a lot of effort to ensure myths do not get propagated based on hearsay is taken.

Study Author Robert Bailey clarifies "Circumcision is by no means a natural condom"

Here is the link to the article about the study

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cricket Crazy!!

Amit Varma has a great piece on India's obsession with cricket

People who are cynical about long-distance relationships know nothing of cricket and Indians. Non-resident Indians around the world pine for cricket as if their lover is an ocean away, and go to insane lengths to stay in touch. Prem Panicker, a legend among NRIs for his cricket writing for Rediff, once told me about a bunch of US-based Indians who, visiting India, dropped in to his office to chat with his team. This was a decade ago, and Rediff had just finished doing ball-by-ball commentary of the 1996 World Cup, and were wondering if such effort was worth it. “We wrote more than 60,000 words over eight hours during a day’s play,” Panicker told me. “We were wondering if anyone actually read that much.”

These kids did. They described to him how six of them would gather at one of their places, and they would follow the game in batches of three. One batch would sleep while the other half would ‘watch’ the game via the ball-by-ball commentary, refreshing the screen ferociously. Then, at the innings break, they’d wake the other batch up, brief them on what had happened, and go off to sleep. The other three would then take over. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. All night.

Panicker said that this story was an eye-opener for him, as he realised how much cricket meant to these kids. “All of us like the game,” he said to me, “but this was like an obsession.”

Read the full piece

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Reality Check - 1

In a spate of future posts, not necessarily serial or periodic, i will expound my faith. Its there deep down and just waiting to explode!

For now, let me state that i go by logic and reasoning more than anything else. Also, i havent had a miraculous conversion. Through these posts labelled 'Reality Check', I will to relate my search for the truth and how i have come to the understanding of it.

Do not adjust reality - Its true! (Like New Zealand beat Australia 3-0)

Religion is man-made, the truth is not!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunil Gavaskar describing nose-picking

If we go by the way he describes the cover drive, here is how the metaphysician in Sunil Gavaskar would describe nose-picking ->

The head held high, the chin pointing up, and the finger slowly transferred on to the nostril with the eyes wandering surreptitiously around to check if anyone is watching. The finger goes in and lucidly and beautifully rotates within the nostril with the elbow pointing downwards to get the correct elevation as the ball is fluently flung away to the floorwith precision. You can see the look of delight on his face as he watches it fly to the floor. It is not just about the timing, its also about the placement and he got both right. He knew exactly what he wanted and he did it with elan. An artist at work.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

No, i'm not one of those guys..

I met this doctor from AIIMS who is in Goa for a Physicians Conference and we got chatting as the bus rattled along to Panaji.

Originally from Manipur, Doc and I had lots to chat about. We spoke about football and Goa and medicine and the power of the internet and the conflicts in North East India and then....

Doc - So what do you do?

Me - I write software

Doc - (giving me that omniscient look) So you are a software engineer?

Me - (hesitantly) uhmmmmmm.... yeah..

And then we were back to normal conversation till he had to get off at the Goa Medical College.

And then the thought process started. Why do i hate to admit i am a software engineer? Being categorised as a software engineer is only fair. By qualification, i am a computer engineer (i checked the degree certificate and thats what it says) and by occupation, i write software. By passion, i am a lot many things which should matter and which one day will. But for now, getting back to the point, I am not a typical software engineer! The kind you will bump into in Bangalore or Pune or wherever. I am not one of those guys. I hate the banality, sounds so cliche. Thankfully, I dont have to wear a tie or even formal clothes to work. I wear jeans. I dont oil my hair. I dont dream about debugging errors (its been a long time since i have had such a dream, or nightmare), and i dont discuss the nitty-gritties of coding with friends after work. Coding is fun, and very interesting. But, its not what i live for!

I am a sore thumb, I stick out. Maybe i should ask the doc if there is a cure. But then, he is a nephrologist.

Just not good enough reasons!

When you want to convince me to do something(like play chess or follow a philosophy or whatever), dont use any of the following arguments.

  • You must do it because everyone else is doing it. I think 'If you wanna go nowhere follow the crowd'.
  • You must do it because its a tradition, and the older folks do it. You know, your parents and the grandparents and such like. As far as i know, our ancestors were also cannibals.
  • You must do it because X (who is successful and rich) does it or did it or recommends doing it. Super duper crap.
I dont buy them at all. Just not good enough reasons.

Friday, February 16, 2007

This could have been YOUR story!

Quoting Kiruba

It's cruel how life can completely change. Here's the true life incident of my neighbour that took place on Saturday. Imagine this, there's this bright bubbly guy who just got into engineering college. His lower middle class parents have scraped the bottom of their life savings to fund his education. It looked like any other guy's story, the boy would pass out of college, get a job in a software company and support his parents and help close out all the loans. Unfortunately, life took a different path.

The boy and his friends were on their hostel terrace, three floors high. While playing around, one of his friends tripped over the side wall, and while trying to hold on to anything to keep him from falling, he unfortunatley grabbed his friend's shirt. So, both the boys crashed to the ground below. Luckily, both the guys survived but with terrible consquences. Half my neighbour's ribs are broken, heavy internal bleeding, hands and legs fractured and he's become limp waist down. I hear the other kid is serious too.

What really tugged my heart strings were his parent's reaction when the doctor said that the hospital expenses would amount to Rs.7 lakhs, twice what they had paid for his engineering. Without blinking an eyelid, they decided to sell of their modest house. For them, their only son is everything.

If you think thats a heart-wrenching story and want to know what happened later and would like to offer your support and prayers in some small and significant manner, Kiruba tells you how you can help. Also check a follow up post here.

You can keep track of the boy's progress here.

UPDATE - (17.00 Indian Time) -> Click here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day song in India

This song's lyrics have been slightly modified to make it the original soundtrack of the story of a lover in India who was caught making out on Valentine's Day by activists seeking to protect Indian culture from Western influences and whacked royally. It happens.

Here goes ... straight from the hospital bed in Notting Hospital from the Loverboy dedicated to all those who protect and preserve our culture ...


It's amazing
how you can strike fear in my heart
Without saying a word, you can light up the park

Try as I may I can never explain
What I fear when i see you coming

The frown on your face lets me know
That you'll whack me
There's a truth in your eyes
Saying you'll never leave me
The grasp of your hand says
You'll thrash me wherever I fall
You whacked me bad when I did nothing at all

All day long I can hear people
Talk about love
But when you hold me near
I forget about the love

Try as i may
I can never define
What's been said
Between your eyes and mine

[Repeat chorus twice]
(You whacked me bad when I did nothing at all) - Repeat twice

The frown on your face
The anger in your eyes
The grasp of your hand
Let's me know
That you'll whack me

[Repeat chorus]
(You whacked me bad when I did nothing at all) - Repeat twice

The frown on your face
The anger in your eyes
The grasp of your hand
Let's me know
That you'll whack me

(You whacked me bad when I did nothing at all) - Repeat twice


Applause ..... More applause .....

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy what day??

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Friends are important!!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

the moon or the pillar?

This guy is learning it the hard way. After his post, he has come in for piles of cow-dung from all who have taken offense to his views.

I wonder why we take the 'psychotic ramblings of a mad man' so seriously?

And also, what damage can a blogger do to South Indians(or 'madrasis')? Will companies stop investing in South Indian cities? Will the movies down south stop flourishing? Will the curd rice taste any less good?

We cant afford to take personal opinions so seriously. Thats because the blog macrocosm will have many characters, good, bad and the downright ugly. We will have experts, rationalists, ignorants and all jumping onto the bandwagon and expressing themselves on the web in the future. We will have good bloggers, bad bloggers, outspoken bloggers, brash bloggers, trash bloggers and free-floating bloggers. Will we draw the knives each time an opinion is expressed? Remember they told us 'think before you speak'! That will be substituted by 'google before you blog'.

A good friend in Manipal University once casually mentioned that all Mallus are bad people and kick you in the gut once they have finished business with you. I did not argue, believing that maybe he had some genuine stab-in-the-back experience. Three of my best friends are Mallus and in no way have this guy's words affected my friendship with any of them! Why should it? Whats true for him may not be true for me! A neighbor of mine is a Mallu and a new friend and i don't see why i should not think of him as just another good guy.

The post is in bad taste, and that is a fact. Too sick, na? Well, you haven't read the comments. They are even worse. Just as much as Vulturo has a responsibility to not make a fool of himself, so do guys and gals who comment on his post. While there is room for debate, there is no room for abuse. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

Vulturo is probably getting some extra doses of the freedom of speech tonic administered to him, in an attempt, and i am not sure of this, to get him to take off his post. Why should he?
After all, he has learnt that freedom of speech applies to the comments section as well.

I don't read much of Vulturo, but maybe i should subscribe to him. He's got some funny opinions. Like his latest post, justifying what he said earlier. Besides, i think we should all link to him. He is happy his ad-sense revenues are going up. He does count the blessings.

If everyone keeps their courtyards clean, the whole world will be clean!

This is getting long, and i don't like long posts (on my blog). I better end this, before my keyboard collapses in a state of exhaustion!

P.S. As regards the title, it has to do with dogs. While dogs bark at the moon, they treat the pillar differently. You got to be the moon to escape with just a barking, you cant be a tree, or a wall or a pillar and get just the barking!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Me - Simplified!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


D : We have plans to play tonight!
M : Oh!
D : You wanna come?
M : No, i have to stay home!
D : Yeah, you will end up bored watching us play! You should learn some moves, man!
M : How do you know i will end up bored watching you both play?
D : You dont understand any chess, do you?
M : Oh Chess!! No i dont!! Play hard :)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why do i blog?

Good question.

A politically correct answer to the question will be 'to vent what's within me and express myself and yada-yada-yada-sada-batat-wada' in typical beauty-pageant-contestant's-future-plans style.

An honest answer would be 'i have no idea'.

Frankly, my blog is not me. Its just a part of me, and very importantly, a very small part of me.
This blog will never be able to capture me wholly no matter how hard i try to fit into its confines!

There are so many issues that are close to my heart that i do not blog about. Why? No clue! There is so much being said everywhere and i dont think i want to add to the confusion with my half a cent worth opinions. Maybe i am a lazy bum or maybe i am a boring nerd who has nothing new to say or whatever.

A lot of the recent posts here have been written motivated purely by the lack of posting i do and my determination to get over my inertia of regular posting. Like what i am writing now. Or this or this !

And it surprises me when someone like Bombay Addict thinks my blog is worth a read and the same gets picked up and i see me listed here!

I ought to take this more seriously! I will! Now let me figure out from when!

CONFESSION - I am addicted to blog reading though. I subscribe to 80 blogs and i can tell you the number is increasing. Having been fed portions of glam tales and success stories by mainstream commercial media, it surprises me that stories of failure and rejection and defeat are not told as much so reality tales like this , in the commercial media this time, are what i find a big turn-on. That explains my addiction to blogs. Deep down, i am a pragmatist and a realist. I read because honest opinions and experiences are fascinating.

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