Fortnightly Magazine Sep. 16-30,  2010 Vol. 9 No. 07

Infocus

The Young and the Old in Reality Shows

Anoop Verma

The truth is that most people are inclined towards voyeurism; we enjoy peeping into the lives of others, while keeping ourselves concealed. How else can you explain the soaring popularity of reality shows! On our TV, there is a virtual avalanche of such shows, which are purportedly set in real life or stimulated life situations. Talent shows are a dime a dozen. Many viewers follow the shenanigans of participants in an Indian Idol show with an urgency that verges on being frenetic. Almost every entertainment oriented channel has come up with its own version of a "talent hunt." No one can say for sure if the talent they manage to unearth is real, or it is just a case of another mediocrity being enshrined as a genius under full glare of TV cameras.

The Vagaries of Breaking News

Does the proliferation of 24/7 channels necessarily mean better coverage of news? Or is it only leading to a surfeit of punditry, sensationalism, speculation and an unhealthy obsession with celebrities? The truth is that there is so much useless husk flying out of the small screen that it becomes difficult for an average viewer to discover that elusive kernel of genuine news. In the present scenario, there simply isn't enough news to fill all hours of the day and night. That is the reason why the bulk of programming in most news channels consists of things like - anchors ranting in self-indulgent manner on issues of little consequence, or a bunch of analysts speculating about what is really going on, or we might even have a pointless focus on shenanigans of a celebrity type.

World

Basque Separatists End Armed Campaign

Three hooded figures flanked by flags, filmed for a grainy video released to the BBC, announced on September 5, 2010 that the Basque separatist group ETA was calling off the armed campaign it has waged for more than half a century.
Their statement defended Eta's actions but suggested that the group might now be ready to turn to the political process to pursue its aim of an independent Basque state. "Eta confirms its commitment to finding a democratic solution to the conflict," one of the hooded figures, a woman, said. "In its commitment to a democratic process to decide freely and democratically our future, through dialogue and negotiations, Eta is prepared today as yesterday to agree to the minimum democratic conditions necessary to put in motion a democratic process, if the Spanish government is willing."

Nepal Fails to Elect New PM

Nepal's Parliament failed to elect a Prime Minister for the sixth time on September 5, 2010. Both candidates - Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ' Prachanda' and Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel - were unable to obtain a simple majority in the house of 601. Mr. Prachanda got 240 votes in his favour. 101 MPs voted against the Maoist candidate, and 163 remained neutral. 504 MPs registered their presence during the vote.

Israel Makes Gaza War Commander Military Chief

The Israeli cabinet on September 5, 2010 confirmed as armed forces chief Major General Yoav Galant, who directed Israel's 2008-2009 Gaza war, the prime minister's office said. "The government approved his appointment as chief of staff for a period of three years, with a possible extension to four years in exceptional circumstances," it said in a statement.

Horizons

Rita Colwell gets Stockholm Water Prize

The devastating floods in Pakistan where millions of people need clean water, food and shelter are but one illustration of the importance of water quality - the overriding theme at the ongoing World Water Week. US researcher Rita Colwell, known for her work on infectious waterborne diseases like cholera, will Thursday accept the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize at a ceremony at Stockholm City Hall.

Converting thoughts into words

A mind reading machine has edged closer to reality after scientists found a way of converting thoughts into words.
Researchers were able to render brain signals into speech for the first time, relying on sensors attached to the brain surface.
The breakthrough, which is up to 90 percent accurate, will be a boon for paralysed patients who cannot speak and could help read anyone's thoughts ultimately, reports the Telegraph.

Tomatoes could protect against cancer

Researchers at the University of Naples have carried out the study and found that the juicy fruit could protect men against the disease and even slow the growth of a tumour in an existing patient, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Opinion

Educating Generation Y

Anoop Verma

In his iconic book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler has said, "By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education." This is a point well made. Toffler has attained cult status throughout the world, because of his fascinating ability to predict the technological and cultural trends in the future. The powerful new dimension in education that he spoke about more than 40 years ago is already here; it is having a discernible impact, at least in the constantly changing field of IT. A vast number of students of computer sciences, who enjoy access to Internet, have already made a tryst with it. The new dimension is nothing but the knowledge that is being disseminated in real time through Internet based outlets. The new technologies, the new issues, the experiences that one gets from interactions on social networking sites - all of this can also be considered to be part of an individual's education.

forum

Consumerism is What the World Needs

Anoop Verma

X and Y get together to decide what Z should consume and what he should not. Who is Z? Z is a producer and a consumer who does his share of productive labor and earns to meet his daily needs. X and Y represent today's anti-consumerist movement. They seek to gain power over Z by preventing him from enjoying the fruits of his labor. X and Y will try to denigrate Z's spending habits by labeling it as "an orgy of consumerism". They will spew leftist propaganda to make Z feel guilty for the smallest luxury that makes his life worth living. In guise of their anti-consumerism X and Y seek to promote a socialist dictatorship where all the luxuries are banned and people are forced to live like automatons in control of one monstrous dictator. How should Z react to the evil propaganda from X and Y? He should tell them to "go to hell".

Techmart

Objects of Desire
The 14-Day Lantern

The power situation being what it is these days, you really a lamp that promises to run continuously for 14 days on four D batteries. So even if the power fails for 14 days in a row, you will have a modicum of brightness in your home. You have the right to ask, what is the secret behind the lamp's capability to prove light for such a long span of time? It uses LED lights, which use fraction of the energy of traditional bulbs and still produces 160 lumens of bright light for 336 consecutive hours on the lowest setting.