1861 kms of floodlights

Is this the longest floodlit border in the world? The orange line snaking across the photo below is the floodlit border between India & Pakistan.

Spectacular: The International Space Station image captures the floodlit border between India and Pakistan in amazing detail

The photo is taken by ISS last month.


Everything Sings–Evocative Cartography

I came across the work by Denis Wood – Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, a compendium of eclectic and idiosyncratic maps showing the patterns of everyday events, things in the half-square mile neighborhood of Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina. Things and events that normally happen in every community, town and usually pass by unremarked and even unnoticed:

The paper route of the boy who delivers your morning newspaper, lighting zones in your town, you know the kind of things I mean.

Everything Sings grew out of an episode of NPR’s This American Life in which host Ira Glass inadvertently came across Wood’s shelved project from a university course he’d previously taught to landscape architecture students. Glass contributes a fantastic foreword that pretty much sums up what makes the collection so special.


These maps are completely unnecessary. The world didn’t ask for them. They aid no navigation or civic-minded purpose. They’re just for pleasure. They laugh at the stupid Google map I consult five times a day on my phone. They laugh at what a square that map is. At its small-mindedness. They know it’s a sad, workaholic salaryman.~ Ira Glass

What is awesome is the strong emotions and in some cases “aha” moments that these maps generate.


Resonant frequencies got a new example–boxercising

You can’t make stuff like this up.

“A friend called a few weeks ago to tell me about a skyscraper that had to be evacuated after an earthquake in Seoul. For ten minutes the building made wide metronomic swings. Thing was, there had been no earthquake registered in the area. It was a mysteriously super local event. After a two-week investigation, the epicenter had been narrowed down to the building’s twelfth floor gym where the side kicking, upper-cutting, and fist-jabbing of seventeen middle-aged Korean women boxercising to Snap’s 1990s hit “I’ve got the Power” seemed somehow to have hit the building’s resonant frequency, sending the whole structure into convulsions. Surely the gods thought they were doing Seoul’s Technomart a good turn when, at the beginning of time, they decided out of all possible pasts and futures, for this building’s Achilles’ heel to be the improbably collection of seventeen Korean women on the wrong side of forty paired with 1990s American infomercial exercise culture.”

via Clusterflock

Weekly Reading

Here are a list of long articles that I am looking forward to read this week.

Massive Biometric Project Gives Millions of Indians an ID

Wired Magazine’s overall positive reporting on India’s controversial and ambitious biometric tagging project of the population

The Informants

Mother Jones has a report on the network of spies cultivated by FBI to prevent terrorist attacks.


It’s the Economy, Dummkopf!

Michael Lewis continues his wandering ways while reporting for Vanity Fair on economic woes in Europe.

Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation.

Did he or didn’t he? Malcolm Gladwell on the influence of Xerox PARC on Apple in early years. As usual, Mr. Gladwell’s articles read far better than his books.

Anna Fallout–India on a high wire

I am sure that almost everyone above 5 years of age in India is familiar with Anna Hazare and his team leading the struggle to fight the corruption endemic in Indian context.

While there is no doubt that Anna Hazare did more than most in raising the awareness and more importantly the “will-to-act” among Indian middle class, the recent “victory” is in every danger of becoming a pyrrhic one.

In all the celebratory backslapping and nationalistic fervor, a few contrarian voices that argued against the very public, media spotlit fight, were submerged and in a few cases, even stifled.

  • The point is that Anna Hazare’s struggle to modify the Lok Pal should not result in 2 things:
  • A breakdown of Indian constitutional bodies & a benevolent dictator who can set himself/herself up as an arbiter of honesty and integrity in Indian life.

Seriously, when a constable in Indian Police Service (entry level position) gets (even after PRC increase) barely 5000 INR (~$150) per month, do we expect him to not look for “alternative” sources of income to feed, educate and keep his family in good health?

Gurucharan Das, one of the more respected voices in India, cautions among similar lines:

A year ago, no one in India could have imagined that cabinet ministers, powerful politicians, senior officials and CEOs would be in jail now, awaiting trial for corruption. The credit for this dramatic shift belongs in no small part to the anticorruption movement of a 74-year-old activist, Anna Hazare, supported by determined justices of the Supreme Court, an exceptional auditor general, rival television channels in search of “breaking news” and, crucially, a newly assertive Indian middle class. The long-term impact of this movement is unclear. It could lead to something profoundly good, or it could destabilize the whole system. (emphasis mine)

It would be a shame if Mr. Hazare’s movement contributed to undermining India’s finely crafted constitutional system, which has made its democracy the envy of the developing world. Street protests and hunger strikes can gain attention, but legislation requires working within the system, in the messy details of parliamentary negotiation.

Negotiation does not necessarily mean abdication or even compromise. What we need is a viable, sustainable legislation (with effective enforcement mechanisms) that will address this.

Plumbing the depths of idiocy


On 25 August, the US Institute of Medicine released a report on the “adverse events” of eight childhood vaccines. The report summarized the exhaustive evidence on the possible negative health consequences of eight vaccines recommended for children, including the vaccines that prevent measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP); chickenpox; and human papilloma virus (HPV).

An excellent science site The Last Word on Nothing is upset and has this to say:

That’s right: in the midst of the most heated anti-vaccine campaign in history, a committee of the nation’s leading scientists and doctors decided to produce a detailed, graphic summary of all the health problems that vaccines cause.

Fair enough. But what about the common, normal people who have multiple sources of information and not just a report? How is it possible that they do not realize skepticism about vaccines is perhaps the most egregious display of stupidity and dumbness?

How many have actually seen a kid with polio? Sure, polio is almost eradicated; but it did not happen by some natural miracle; it required multiple vaccine cycles through many generations. Now we want to give it all up and go back?

They must be out of their minds.

I recommend a long visit to some villages in India to cure them of this “skepticism”.