Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bottoms up!

I recently came across this 'scientific news' on the Times of India website. According to some researchers in Europe, beer is a slightly better replenisher than water after a strenuous workout. Based on this, they recommend consumption of 500 ml & 250 ml of beer for male & female athletes respectively. Now, you don't have to be a scientist to ask the question 'where is the comparison with an electrolyte solution?'.

There is no doubt in my mind that this research was funded by the beer industry. Sounds very much like the case where the tobacco industries would hire top notch scientists from the 'American Cancer Society' and 'National Cancer Institute' to work on projects funded by these industries. They would time and again come out with results that would create doubts in the mind of the public about the relationship between smoking and cancer. This issue was the premise of the movie 'The Insider', which of course was based on a true story.

All I know is that if you don't work out the calories gained from beer consumption, you will be repleneshing your body's fat content.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A documentary that opened my eyes!!!

I know that I have been hibernating in oblivion for a long long time but this particular documentary has woken me up from my slumber. The documentary was on a channel called PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) which is state funded. Each state in the US has its own PBS channel. I really admire this channel because it deals with issues affecting the country and the world and not just local news (which are quite limited). The channel also airs interesting documentaries and reruns of classic British comedies.

Anyway, let’s come back to the documentary that inspired me to write again (at least this piece). The topic was the changing face of news reporting and journalism. The article segued from how newspapers were fast losing their readership to television and online resources like news websites and blogs and to how the various newspaper corporations were restructuring their organizations to meet with the demands of their business. The emphasis, however, was on how news reporting had metamorphosed from investigative journalism and what the news reporters and journalists wanted to share to the very same corporations pandering to the ‘tastes’ of people. Thus in the old days, CBS ’60 minutes’ would expose something or someone in the political or corporate world while now the channels are busy catching sexual predators or dealing with the lives of moms and students who work in striptease bars to earn some extra money. Basically they think that people like money and sleaze and that is what they are showing. In a public poll asking which program they watched to get their news, the winner was ‘The Daily Show’ hosted by Jon Stewart. The funny thing is that it is aired on ‘Comedy Central’ and actually makes fun of the latest happenings. The producers themselves were a bit disappointed to know that people were relying on their program for their daily dose of news.

Another thing that the documentary dealt with was the way the young generation (people in the age group 20-30) was receiving their news. Most of the people in this age group receive news through the internet. This is hardly surprising since they spend most of their time online and this actually the fastest and more convenient way to get the latest news. This is also a generation with short attention spans. Thus the news is limited to 20 sentences and in fact they prefer news with a short video clip. I too prefer this medium because: 1) I don’t get to watch a lot of TV 2) If you watch a news channel a couple of hours after a particular news has been broken, you wouldn’t understand what they are talking about since they would be talking about the latest developments without actually repeating the original news and 3) Buffalo doesn’t have a newspaper to boast about.

Personally, I’m a big fan of newspapers. Nothing can replace the sensations of the smell and touch of a fresh newspaper. I used to read almost an entire newspaper (and sometimes two) on a daily basis when I was in India. Unfortunately, life in the US is simply too busy to enjoy the simple pleasures of reading newspapers and novels. I do occasionally get to read the New York Times, thanks to the Readership program at our university. I was surprised to know through the documentary that reputed newspapers like the one I mentioned before, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune have a turnover of close to a billion dollars a year with the profits being somewhere close to 200 million dollars. That is a lot of moolah!!!

The documentary also touched upon the growing influence of blogs as a source of news and communication. It showed a couple of instances where blogs, not news agencies, had helped in exposing scams. One was the misleading reporting by Dan Rather of ’60 minutes’ about criticisms of George Bush’s service in the US National Guards during the 70s which came to be known as ‘Rathergate’. The other was how a minister in Florida had homosexual relations with his subordinates (I am in no way against homosexuality)

I am an avid blog reader and get a lot of news from other blogs. I believe that blogs are doing great community service by shelling out information and keeping local events alive. However, I have to agree with one of the interviewees that in the current scenario, blogs cannot replace mainstream news media. I think that many blog writers are good reporters but they hardly contribute anything to journalism (I hope people realize the difference between the two).

The documentary then went on to show how the various newspaper organizations restructured themselves but its not interesting enough to be mentioned here. I think I have written quite a bit and should stop, keeping in mind the short attention spans of most readers. Will this piece inspire me to write more often? Only time will tell.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

October surprise

That's the name given to the snowstorm we Buffalonians had to endure during the night of Oct 12 which dumped around 2 feet of snow and paralyzed most of the infrastructure for a week. The university, schools & many offices were closed for a couple of days. Close to 300,000 households were without electricity.

Personally, I'm very disappointed with the nomenclature of the storm. Buffalo is rarely in the limelight and this was a very good oppurtunity to make people take notice of this city (although admittedly, its not the best incident). After Katrina, Rita & Wilma, who's going to give a damn about 'October Surprise'? It should have been named something like 'October Blitzkrieg' or 'Hell freezes over' and suchlike.

Anyway, I'm glad that the US government has finally acknowledged the destruction caused by the storm and has agreed to give some federal aid to Erie county in which Buffalo is located.

How could a snowstorm cause so much destruction? This must be the question foremost in your mind. Fall was not completely over and most of the trees still had leaves on them. When the snow deposited on such leaf-laden trees, they could not bear the weight of the snow and most of the branches started falling. More than 90% of the trees were destroyed. The falling trees and branches took down power, telephone & cable lines with them. This left most of the homes in the dark.

Fortunately, the apartment complex in which I stay was not affected and I & some of my friends made the most of it. The following day (Friday, Oct 13), the storm had subsided, the sky was clear & blue and seemed like a perfect day except for the fact that there was still 2 feet of snow around us. One of my friends came over to my place, we went outside, called another friend & played in the snow for almost 2 hours. I then called some more friends including my roomie & his wife for some more fun. We then went indoors, played some board games, cooked food & ate lunch while watching 'Sholay'. All in all it was a day to remember although I feel sorry for some of my other friends who may have had the most miserable times of their lives.

Here is a collection of some photos. These are some crazy videos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6.

Till then, stay safe!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some links

I honestly don't have time to write something original. So the next best thing is to post some links.

At some point in our lives, we all have been terrified of maths. Here is a collection of math problems & the ingenious ways some people have tried solving them. I couldn't stop laughing for quite some time after reading this.

The football world cup is long gone and this video might seem irrelevant now but I have to post this since I liked the French team and the Italians somehow messed up the plan. Here is a spoof on the practise session of the Italian players.

Here is the ultimate parody. Before I show you the parody, you must know what its based on. There is this very melodious song by James Blunt called 'You are beautiful' which is a big hit in the US. Watch it. Then some guy came up with a parody of the song titled 'My cubicle' chronicling his usual day at his office. Enjoy the song and I'll leave you with that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I'm sorry but right now I'm just too caught up with the Fall semester. So no blogs for some time to come. Please do keep checking my site from time to time though.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pour some Cola on me!!!

'Pour some sugar on me' goes the song by Def Leppard. After seeing the pesticide content in Indian cane sugar, I'm sure he would modify the song. Cane sugar in India is more contaminated with pestcides than water according to this article. It goes on to say that coffee and apples are about 100000 times more contaminated while the colas are just 24 times more contaminated than accepted levels. The contamination, it goes on to argue, is because of the sugar since the bottled water products of Pepsi & Coke, namely Aquafina and Kinley respectively, are free of pesticides.

There is no doubt in a majority of people's minds that its just plain politics. The political parties need some agenda. Taking the first step towards this is the Gujarat government which has banned both Pepsi & Coke. Following suit are the Kerala and Karnataka governments. I doubt the Maharashtra government will ban it since most of the sugar comes from the rich and politically influential southern Maharasthra belt (Sangli-Satara-Kolhapur).

I think its a case of 'Much ado about nothing'. Let me know your thoughts while I take a cola break.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pepsi vs coke

I was just surfing and came across an interesting topic: Pepsi vs Coke. Its a promotional battle between the two companies and it seems that Pepsi has won this battle hands down. Now, I am not taking sides here. Just my observation.

Here is a commercial of a cute girl impersonating Marlon Brando as the Godfather.

Here is one of a boy reaching out for Pepsi on a vending machine.

Two truck drivers, one for Pepsi and the other for coke, fight over their favourite drink.

Here is a private production featuring two teenage boys.

I came across a private video where Coke comes out tops but I didn't like it.

Just to reiterate, I'm not taking sides here.