Google Doodle for one month of Mangalyaan

Right on the footprints of the news that India has surpassed Japan as the 3rd largest Internet user-base, Google released a doodle today to mark 1 month of Mars Orbiter Mission or Mangalyaan – ‘.  The doodle, understandably appears only on their India home-search-page.

Mangalyaan was launched on 5th November 2013 from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and India’s first inter-planetary mission entered the Martian orbit on 24th September of this year, 2 days after MAVEN from NASA.

The Mars Orbiter will study the Red Planet’s surface and mineral composition and scan its atmosphere for methane gas in search of life sustaining elements.

1-month-of-mangalyaan-entering-mars-orbit

Safety with Deepavali fireworks and crackers

They say our online stupidity is archived forever, and it seems to be true.  Searching for Deepavali Crackers brings out my utterly stupid, unsafe ‘Deepavali crackers bursting by hand’ YouTube video on the first page!

Since such idiocy can only be undone by a more responsible, safety conscious post, here are some safety points for a safe, accident-free, Diwali celebrations.  The first 3 are the most irritating, dangerous, inconsiderate safety violations I find in Chennai/India during Deepavali celebrations.
  • do not throw crackers or fireworks – not only at people or animals - but even in air;
  • do not tie/twist 2 or more crackers and light them – it is equal to throwing crackers at others;
  • after lighting crackers or fireworks, do not scoot into your home – move away to the side to warn other people walking/moving towards the fireworks;
  • never, ever, hold (lit) crackers or fireworks in hand – it is dangerous, and stupid;
  • do not place stones, metal, pottery or even plastic cans/material on a cracker or firework – it will act as a mini explosive device – the stone or metal will fly, and can slice/injure people around;
  • do not light crackers or fireworks on loose, sandy soils or on gravel, loose stones – they once again will fly, and can injure people;
  • never place any part of your body above a cracker or fireworks when lighting them – once lit, move away to a safe distance;
  • above all – keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
Here is an infographic lifted from the website of US Consumer Product Safety Commission, and their 2012 study on accidents – causes and injuries – due to fireworks.  Though the statistics are for USA, and pertain to their own fireworks celebrations on 4th of July, the situation must be broadly the same back home during Diwali.

crackers-fireworks-accidents-causes-injuries
(images courtesy cpsc.gov)

Have a safe Deepavali.  Happy Diwali to all.

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Wish everyone a Happy Deepavali 2014

Deepavali will be celebrated – in Tamil Nadu – on the 22nd October 2014, that is tomorrow, though the Vatican has greeted us for this year’s Diwali on October 23*. 

Unlike the northern parts of India, Deepavali is a one day celebration for the Tamil people.  As per Tamil traditions, it is the day when Lord Krishna, or rather his consort Satyabhama, killed the demon Narakasura+.

Whatever the reason for the celebration, it is a day of joy, feast, and celebrations.  Here is wishing everyone a very happy Deepavali 2014.  As the Vatican says on the occasion, ‘May the ‎Transcendent Light illumine your hearts, homes and communities, and may all ‎your celebrations deepen the sense of belonging to one another in your families ‎and neighbourhoods, and so further harmony and happiness, peace and ‎prosperity.‎’

What more can we ask for?

fireworks

* Vatican’s Diwali message [http://www.news.va/en/news/vaticans-message-for-deepavali-2014]

+ Deepavali or Diwali is celebrated as the homecoming day of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman from Lanka in northern parts of India

Why Pakistan violates ceasefire shelling Kashmir

The conventional wisdom is the Pakistan Army is whipping up India-border-paranoia to divert attention from its own terrorism troubles.  But let us take a little cockeyed look.
  • The most out-dated explanation is the Pakistani’s are feeling frustrated.  Like a child throwing a tantrum, they resort to firing across the border.
  • The media have cottoned on to another explanation that they fire to distract our attention, while they attempt to push terrorists across the border.
  • Some of my shipmates used to speculate with a wink and smile, that they are expending their ‘expired’ ammunitions. 
    • All those bullets, mortar, and cannon shells do have an ‘expiry’ or ‘use-by’ dates, which vary between 5 to 20 years.  The developed countries, who are also the weapons manufacturers, have a well established procedure to decommission and recycle those ammunition.  Pakistan is an arms importer and has no economical way of dismantling or recycling them.  So, the reasoning is they are destroying the ‘expired’ ammunition in the most economical, and at the safest place (for them) to do so – by lobbing them across the border.
  • Of late, as the capabilities of an audit to expose corruption became apparent, the next step of awareness is being brandished.  The Pakistan Army is actually fudging its ammunition inventory, by claiming to have fired far more than they have actually done.
    • The Generals are feathering their nests, by placing orders – on paper – for huge number of ammos, but what actually comes in is very little.  To makeup for the shortfall, they routinely create a big tamasha on the border, and account for all the ‘missing’ ammo as fired across the border.  If at all there is an audit, they can well tell the bean-counters to go and count the shells on the Indian side!
Seeing the way Pakistan is run, I can well believe it.  I only hope they have better control of their nukes.  Else the reality of this Mike Keefe cartoon of 2002 is chilling.

pagasaki-hindushima-cartoon

(image courtesy Mike Keefe)

Tropical Cyclone 03B HUDHUD landfall near Vishakapatnam

As the Tropical Cyclone 03B, named ‘HudHud’, approaches the Indian coast off Vishakapatnam, reports say that more than 514,725 people have been evacuated in Andhra Pradesh alone.  Considering the reluctance and the ‘karmic’ acceptance of the Indian population, it indeed is a fantastic effort.

The cyclone, classed "very severe" by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), will hit Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states in the next few hours, with winds of upto 195 km/hr.

In many ways HUDHUD reminds me of Tropical Cyclone PHAILIN, which made landfall, almost to the day, an year ago, which left around 30 dead. 

Hudhud is forecast to maintain its intensity for 6 more hours after landfall, and then will gradually weaken into a cyclonic storm while moving across the interior areas of  southern Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Here is the satellite/IR picture of Tropical Cyclone 03B HUDHUD approaching the Vishakapatnam coast, about to make landfall.

cyclone-03B- HUDHUD-making-landfall

(image courtesy wundermap)