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Bad advices – celebrity edition….

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As if the hysteria over the H1N1 swine-flu is not enough, now we have a celebrity providing bad advice on preventing the flu.  Via Twitter no less.

Actress Gul Panag wrote today:

There’s a “preventive” homeopathic medicine for Swine flue (sic) – INFLUENZUM,available at all homeopathic chemists.Prevention is better than cure (link)

No shit ! And so when do I get to give advice on how the director should frame her next shot. Because, you know – I have dabbled in amateur theater. (Btw, the medicine is not called INFLUENZUM – it is influenzinum)

Although Gul hasn’t gone off on the deep end like her American counterparts, Jenny McCarthy or Jim Carrey and their anti-vaccination idiocy, it is still bad advice.

To set the records straight, a homeopathic treatment is no prevention against the flu.  Notwithstanding the tall claims on websites such as this  which state:

Influenzinum is made each year from the influenza vaccination shot. Here’s how it is made, and how we have made it for years. It is in the HPUS (Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States).We take the shot itself and place it in 9 parts water and succuss (25 thumps)- the result is 1x – We then take that 1x, put in 9 parts alcohol and succuss it again and make a 2x (& a 1c). The 3x or 2c are then made separately – 1:9 (x) or 1:99 (c).We continue in this manner up to 30x and 30c (by hand and from the 30c on to the 200c using the Helios potentizing machine). (Joe Lillard,WHP)

Apart from the alcohol, I am not sure there is much palliative in this prescription. By the time, the dilution takes place, you will be lucky to catch any strain of the original virus to boost your immunity. Prevention of flu, as it were, can be through a combination of  keeping  your hands and face clean,  and avoiding infected people. The latter, even in a low density populations is difficult without shutting yourself completely from the world. Even taking the flu vaccine every year is no guarantee against the infection during the season since new viral strains can easily appear. For the H1N1 particularly, even though a vaccine has been developed, not much is yet known about its efficacy.  Hence the so-called Influenzium treatment – even if effective against other flu – would be useless for H1N1.

Overall, the best option is to remain safe and pretty much hope for the best. And yeah – get the shot if available. There aren’t any easy alternatives.

Unfortunately, I suppose this kind of quackery will be very popular in India – especially where you have countless millions brainwashed by one Baba Ramdev, who among other things, proposes cure for homosexuality through yogas. (And yes, according to him, swine-flu can be prevented through yogas too.)

The scary part is that people may take such advice to heed and have an elevated sense of safety. Does not help the individual or the community.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 20, 2009 at 1:11 am

Posted in India, Rants, Science

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Twitter killed the blogger ?

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Not that I was very persevering at it, but the advent of Twitter seems to have cut into my already dismal state of blogging. Most off-the-cuff remarks I might have considered putting into a blog [1], I now find myself finishing in 140 characters or less. An example would be the early morning (by Australian time) Champions League final game between Barca and Man U. that Barca won through some superb midfield play, which in other circumstances,  I might have devoted a paragraph or three, I Twittered (Tweeted? Twat ?) about.

For lazy bums such as myself, 140 characters or less is just too tempting; get the rush of sharing your  (half-formed) thoughts with the world out of the way quickly – thoughtful analysis and introspection be dammed.

Then there are other advantages: you have a list of people who follow you on Twitter, and with judicious calculations of whether they are online (or will be) or a  knowledge of their interest, you know you will attract their attention to your Tweet (Twit?). With blogs, it has recently become a crap-shoot: your RSS feeds (wow, that sounds so 2005-6ish!) could be on the subscription list of hundreds (mine isn’t), but most people, I suspect, dont bother reading beyond the first 140 characters anyway. However, this could be a problem with Twitter too: there are those insanes that ‘follow’ hundreds and thousands, and I have no idea if they actually read a quarter of them. But at least you are assurred of being skimmed over by a few, versus the neglect of all.

On balance however, I am not a big fan of Twitter. So call me old-fashioned and stuck in the Web2.0 age, but here goes some reasons:

First, I have noticed that the overall productivity of quite a few of my favorite bloggers has declined since the advent of widespread Twitter usage. This is a personal loss – I do get their Twitter updates, but often it gets lost under a mountain of trivial stuff. Blogs – I can read at leisure. Twitter – early mornings, I cannot be bothered beyond the 5th, or the 2nd if I haven’t had my coffee yet. So I assume I am missing out on the richness of much rants, fisks, and other such goodies.

Second, the tendency of many Twitters (Twats? Tweeters ?) to go on a self-absorbed chronicling of their everyday mundane activities is often disgusting, not to mention boring as hell (ok, so that was the third soy-latte-chai you had today morning, now get over it and be a man by ordering a triple-shot Venti or whatever abomination).

Finally, while Twitter can be put to good use in quick dissemination of information (e.g during the Mumbai blast) – or for interesting updates on the go with iPhones  (e.g. a  few droll observations by the ever reliable gawker from a suburban pub tonite) etc., the total misuse or worse, cluelessness, of the platform by many is absolutely irritating. A well known blogger and journalist I was following for a while suffered from the worst case of verbal  diarrhoea I have had the misfortune of reading – his opinion seemed to be that the 140 characters limit was a simple inconvenience, easily abrogated by breaking up a blog-sized posting  (never pithy to begin with) into 30-40 Twitters!! I exaggerate of course, but not by much.

So unfollow these people you miserable Luddite twat, I hear the cry goes. Rest assured, my Twitter following is kept at the bare minimum: I think I follow a little more than 30 people (!) – four of them are celebrities, or people who I consider celebrities (Stephen Colbert, Kal Penn, Mindy Kaling and Samit Basu), a few were reciprocal followers (I have stopped this now, unless I know the person) and why they wanted to follow me in the first place I don’t know, a couple are institutional Twitters (e.g NIH, CDC) and I plan to expand into this soon, and the rest are people whom I used to follow on their blogs, some I have met personally as well.

As such, I don’t think that Twitter is a very bad thing, but hope it will be put to better use.

Anyhow, there ends a not very brief rant. And now, excuse me while I link this to an Twitter update 😛

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[1]: Even on a good week, less than 50% of putative blog posts actually get past the drafts stage.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

May 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

Earth Hour/G20 and doing somethig real for the environment

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These pictures of various landmarks all over the world during last Sunday’s Earth Hour are quite breathtaking.

But can someone tell me why is it necessary to keep the lights on at that swimming pool Water Cube thingie in Beijing for the remaining evening and all the other evenings in the year (unless some event is on)? Or why the Eiffel Tower needs all those lights (as if some Parisians or tourists would bump into it accidentally at night) ?

I always get pissed off by these gimmicky let’s save the environment by doing doing something symbolic for a short time movements.  Why switch of lights for just that one hour ? Be sensible, and switch off whatever lights/fans/AC is not necessary every day; replace all your incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones; don’t leave your desktop running overnight; drive less, walk more. There are quite a many ways in which you can contribute to saving the environment, and save yourself some cash while doing so.

Which brings me to the G-20 summit currently being held in London. One of their agendas is to do something about the environment. Dudes, just do your discussions via tele-conferencing and save the environment by not flying world leaders and their entourages (to say nothing of the press, or the emissions from all those protesters making their trip to London) halfway around the globe for meaningless photo-opportunities. And the countries save money as well. Would be such a better gesture, if symbolism is what you are looking for.

Finally, in context of the G-20, wanted to point out this recent remark by British PM Gordon Brown: “The option of doing nothing is not available to us” ( heard on the Bugle podcast), in essense admitting that governments were doing nothing previously !

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

April 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Quick Oscar-nite musings

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A big pat on the back of those who actually stayed awake to watch the entire Oscar’s night live; I had recorded it and even with the benefit of fast-forwarding through really boring bits and the commercial breaks, I wish I could even say ‘meh’ !

This was undoubtedly one of the most uninspiring, insipid and boring Oscar ceremonies I have witnessed. Allright, so Hugh Jackman can sing, he can dance, he can self-reference during his song and dance routines, and yeah, yeah…he is the sexiest man alive, or something. But he did not bring anything extra as a host – the best one could say is that he was not as irritating as Ellen Degeneress two years ago. But that’s not really saying much.

And, that was the best choreography they could come up with for O saaya and Jai Ho: A bunch of dancers in ethnically confusing pink dresses !? Jai Ho was slightly better, but only just. they should have left it to the professionals in Mumbai ?

The moments barely enjoyable included bits of the opening routine, Tina Fey and Steve Martin’s banter, and Jerry Lewis’ acceptance. Of course,  Jai Ho to ARR and Gulzar for winning Oscars.

Finally, Kate Winslet: For fugs sake – stop the crying already and show some dignity. Meryl Streep was sitting not very far – she has won the award three times and nominated a zillion times, learn something from her.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 23, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Religious Nuttery Down Under (re: Australian bush fires)

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Even before the last embers have died on the worst bush (forest) fires in the history of Australia, a fire that is predicted to claim more than 300 lives [1], some religious nut-job here is trying to relate it to abortion laws:

The Catch the Fire Ministries has tried to blame the bushfires disaster on laws decriminalising abortion in Victoria.

The Pentecostal church’s leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah, claimed he had a dream about raging fires on October 21 last year and that he woke with “a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb”. (link)

Oh yeah – god’s message against the “slaughter of innocent children” (high debatable anyway)….is killing of more people!

Aussies are actually too  laid-back to be deeply absorbed in religion like the Americans,  and I hardly ever hear about religion being spoken about openly, so I assume this guy is really quite a fringe element of the society. But it is really deplorable how someone would try to take advantage of such a tragedy to further an agenda, especially from someone who is supposedly aiding with the disaster relief efforts. What a sad, pathetic excuse for a human being.

However, as I always say, extremists are bad on either side  – here is a climate campaigner from Greenpeace linking the severity of the fire with global warming (not saying there isn’t any effect, but now is not the time to talk about it).

[1]: Regarding the fire itself,  while any disasters that claim large human and animal tolls are always sad, but the fact that this was started by an arsonist, makes it tougher to digest.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 10, 2009 at 7:04 am

Barberian idiocy

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This:

After courting controversy days ahead of its release, Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film ‘Billu Barber’ will see the term ‘barber’ dropped from its hoardings and posters across the country following objections from an association of hairdressers, terming it “derogatory”.

The actor-producer, who spoke to representatives of the Salon and Beauty Parlors’ Association over the issue, on Sunday said his production house Red Chillies Entertainment will ensure that the term ‘barber’ is removed from all hoardings.

“We will put a piece of paper on the word barber wherever it can be done in India. We will send teams,” Khan said.

Once again, I am compelled to point out – this is not an Onion-like satire piece, but a sad, sad truth.

Sigh !

Henceforth I demand that ‘post-docs‘ be considered a demeaning term, and our underclass be referred to by the more descriptively appropriate FUUGSS (f$%#ing unbelievably underpaid glorified sweat-shop scientists). Thank You.

(link via a comment by the GreatBong on Facebook)

‘Jihadi Romeos’ (and the flip-side)

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Yup, now I have heard it all:  The latest garb for the jihadis is impersonating a Shakespearean tragic character.

A bunch of hooligans entered a pub in Mangalore and beat up men and women “in the interests of society” (a detailed blog and video here).  One would think that such an action would be morally outrageous enough to defy condoning, no matter what ideology you believe in. Well apparently not:

Few days back, HK had reported about Mangalore turning as the hot bed of Jihadi Romeos who target Girls of other faith. A Hindu girl is still missing from her home and reportedly hided (sic) in one of the Jihadi strong hold in Mangalore.
…………….
Those who were targeted were girls who ignored the warning about the Jihadi Romoeos they were roaming with. The girls mostly from other states who come to Mangalore for study are easy prey for these Jihadi’s.

Nation wide awareness campaigns against these Jihadi Romeo’s and alerting the parents of those who fell into the Jihadi trap in the starting is the need of the hour.[link]

Sadly, this is not satire.

[Blog link via e-mail from Vivek]

UPDATE:

Here is a reaction from the other end of the spectrum which is equally absurd:

When will we retaliate? When will we ban these group and pass ’shoot at sight’ orders if more than 5 of them are seen to be gathering at a public place?

………………..

The hooligans are not arrested and killed yet. We all know that they wouldn’t at all be arrested, if at all they are, they would get away the next day on bail

(emphasis mine) (via)

As I said, what these hoodlums perpetrated is absolutely reprehensible and could in no way be supported by a civilized society. [Although,  I wouldn’t call it the ‘Talibanization’ of our society (yet) as the author of this blog suggests – as in there is no systematic government support for such moral policing (yet).]

However, how is a demand for these people to be killed any better than the type of justice meted out by the Taliban and their ilks ? Most reports suggest that the people responsible have been arrested (no word on whether they have been bailed), and there is enough media outrage over the incident, so much so that the BJP and Sangh-parivar related parties have publicly distanced themselves from this group. But how does the crime justify a ‘shoot-at-sight’ order to kill ?

Weird to say the least. Mind you, this rant comes from the same blogger – a lawyer no less – who is justifying NDTV and Barkha Dutt’s rather childish decision of threatening to sue a blogger just because they did not like what he wrote about their Mumbai 26/11 coverage. (another issue that I should blog about in a separate post)

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Posted in India, Rants, Religion

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