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Sunday, August 25, 2019

how addicted are you ~ Freecell Obsession !


In a Cricket crazy Nation, the word obsession may not need any lengthy elaboration. I do not have an answer for the Q is the obsession for Cinema is more !

Unbeaten half-centuries from Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane helped India take firm control of the first Test against West Indies in North Sound. By the end of the third day, India were 185 for 3, Kohli batting on 51 and Rahane on 53 with the overall lead swelling to 260. The two had joined hands just before tea and continued their association till stumps, adding 104 for the fourth wicket. Earlier in the day, West Indies were bowled out for 222, 75 behind India's first-innings total of 297.

Away at Leeds, in the Ashes England 67 and 156 for 3 (Root 75*, Denly 50) trail Australia 179 and 246 (Labuschagne 80) by 202 runs.  Joe Root and Joe Denly - two England batsmen needing big scores as much as any - had dug in and turned the match on its head, a recurring theme in a series that has seen momentum swings , twists and turns throughout. The pair put on a 126-run partnership, Denly reaching his second Test fifty, and Root unbeaten on 75 at the close. The 67 all out England coughed up in their first innings had heaped more pressure on England's batting line-up and these two hadn't escaped - far from it.

The adjective ‘obsessed’  would mean :  unable to stop thinking about something; too interested in or worried about something.  A diamond solitaire refers to any piece of jewelry with a single diamond. Diamond solitaires can be a ring, necklace, earring or even men's jewelry. This is not on diamond solitaire, but my obsession on a Card game Solitaire –‘freecell’.

Be it a marriage, function, cinema hall, cricket match, office, lecture room, class room or what .. .. people are obsessively involved in touching their mobile screens – checking for social media and playing games ! ~ I claim that I can live without mobile for a day or two – though me too have great obsession for social media.  We also see, people madly playing various computer games, especially on their smart phones -   their impulse control isn’t as strong.   It’s rather humiliating, since I’ve always been someone who adapted well to a disciplined schedule.  Me too am addicted to one particular game ‘Freecell’ – I played almost all the time I open my Computer at home and when I close it ! ~ for sure, have never played it on office machine or on office laptop.   The card games are no doubt interesting and challenging too !

While Cards offer various probabilities – here it is 52! (i.e., 52 factorial), or approximately 8×1067, distinct deals. However, some games are effectively identical to others because suits assigned to cards are arbitrary or columns can be swapped. After taking these factors into account, there are approximately 1.75×1064 distinct games, is how the challenge is described.

For those uninitiated it is Freecell game that one standard 52 card deck – there are 4 open cells and 4 open foundations – there are some alternates too.  Cards are dealt face-up into eight cascades, four of which comprise seven cards each and four of which comprise six cards each.

The lure of FreeCell, a highly strategic solitaire game that can be summoned with just a click or two on the desktop is very seductive challenging you to win the deck.  It is winnable but could be challenging.  To me, the challenge is one last single click that arranges all the remaining cards – so of the 52 at what stage do you get that single click possibility is the fantasizing Q.  Today I got it at 45 i.e., only 7 cards – 45 cards remaining and putting 8 clubs into 7 possible places, is going to end the game on a victory note !. 

            FreeCell can be traced back to the mid-1970's, when a version was written by Paul Alfille in Tutor, a programming language designed for the University of Illinois's computer system. A variation of Baker's Game, another solitaire game, FreeCell traces its origins to an older game called Eight Off, and possibly as far back as 1945 to a game called Napoleon in St. Helena.      FreeCell was introduced to the mainstream in the early 1990's as part of Microsoft's Entertainment Pack Volume 2. But until it was included with Windows 95 as a game accessory within the operating system, it remained relatively obscure. Now it is an integral part of Microsoft operating system.

Microsoft has included a FreeCell computer game with every release of the Windows operating system since 1995, greatly contributing to the game's popularity. Nearly every FreeCell game can be won. Only one of the 32,000 deals in the Microsoft Windows version has been deemed impossible: No.11,982 is one bad trip.  Using the basic deal numbering system that virtually all FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell. ... After that only the games #146692, #186216, #455889, #495505, #512118, #517776, and #781948 are unsolvable out of the first million games. Therefore, unsolvable games of FreeCell are literally eight out of a million.

So how obsessed are you ? after my  #metoo confession !  .. .. Obsession is a 1976 psychological thriller film directed by Brian De Palma, starring Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold.   The story is about a New Orleans businessman who is haunted by guilt following the death of his wife and daughter during a kidnapping-rescue attempt. Years after the tragedy, he meets and falls in love with a young woman who is the exact look-alike of his long dead wife.

Obsessed is a 2009 American thriller film directed by Steve Shill. Obsessed tells the story of Lisa (Larter), an office temp, who develops romantic feelings for her boss, Derek Charles (Elba), and repeatedly attempts to seduce him. Derek's wife, Sharon (Beyoncé), learns of Lisa's obsessive behavior, and suspects an affair. Obsessed received generally negative reviews from critics, many of whom were disappointed in the absence of an explanation for Lisa's obsession with Derek. Others noted that the potential theme of interracial conflict between the Charles family, who are black, and Lisa, who is white, was unexplored. The storyline of Obsessed has been compared with that of Fatal Attraction (1987) - a recollection in which Elba and Beyoncé have the Michael Douglas and Anne Archer roles, respectively, while Larter is in Glenn Close's - although film critics disliked the fact that Derek did not yield to Lisa's seduction. The fight scene finale between Sharon and Lisa, however, was commended by reviewers, and won the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight.

Obsession ~ Freecell and .. .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Aug 2019.

spectacles distributed at SYMA 2019 - remembering KE Raghavan




Srinivas Youngmens Association (SYMA) has been doing service to the society  since 1977.  Of our many services, Medical services and Education services are our prime activities.  On Independence Day of the Nation, We have been conducting ‘Cataract screening  Eye camp’ at Sri Seervi Samaj Bhavan, Triplicane  for more than 20 years now.  The camp is always conducted by Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal.  This year on 15.8.2019, National flag was hoisted at our new premises at 37 Car Street, by Dr N Murali.  Mr Badrinath, Vasavi Constructions was the Chief Guest.  Mr J Babu of Pammal Sankara was the prominent Guest.

In the eye camp, around 130 people were screened ~ only 3 were identified requiring removal of cataract.  They were taken to Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal on the same day.  Cataract surgery was done free for them and a day later, they were brought back to Triplicane.  40 persons were prescribed spectacles.  The eye-glasses were made by Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal and they were distributed this morning  at SYMA Medical Centre @ 10.00am.

We have come a long way since 1989 when our medical services were launched in a small street corner at Peyalwar Street ~ many our volunteers have striven so hard ensuring that pleasant and quality service is extended to poor and needy.  Of the many people involved – we recall and remember the passionate services of dear KE Raghavan born on 12.10.1953

Twelve years ago  on this day [fateful Saturday 25.8.2007] the affable Kunnavakkam Elayavalli Raghavan [Alamu Stores] passed away – his sudden death shocked Triplicane and hundreds turned up at his funeral.  He would ever be remembered for his nice words, smiling face, hard work done always at the background without ever showing up on stage.  On a day when Sri Sankaracharya was to visit our medical centre in its nascent stage, he took upon himself, the task of whitewashing the entire premises and the day beckoned with the place so neat and clean.  He was exceptionally good in cooking and the sambar that he used to make still lingers.  In SYMA tours, besides other manual work, cooking and serving was his area and he made everyone feel happy with that.


Every year we remember him on 25th of August –  this morning in his remembrance, eye glasses were distributed at SYMA’s new premises @ Car Street, Triplicane.  The edifice of SYMA has been built brick by brick by the efforts of many volunteers  and late KE Raghavan played a great part in maintaining the Centre those days. His brother Mr KE Srinivasan, Prop. Alamu Stores, distributed the glasses alongwith SYMA Office bearers.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar          




25th Aug 2019.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

sinking of SS Central America ! ~ panic of 1857


The annals of history contains many dark pages of cruelty, harshness, injustice, harped on mankind by fellow humans – somehow the perpetrators were described as kind, valourous, noble people as history is seen from the side from which it is written.  In 1857, many fighters mutineered against the British which was clamped down harshly – history does not hold pages for those who fought freedom of their motherland. This is not about Indian Freedom struggle wrongly dubbed as ‘sepoy mutiny’ but someother happenings across the world in that year 1857.

SS Central America, as a 280-foot (85 m) sidewheel steamer  operated between Central America and the eastern coast of the United States during the 1850s. She was originally named the SS George Law, after Mr. George Law of New York. The ship sank in a hurricane in Sept 1857, along with 425 of her 578 passengers and crew ~ but more important was the  30,000 pounds (14,000 kg) of cargo (gold) that went inside the sea.  On 9 Sept 1857, the ship was caught up in a Category 2 hurricane while off the coast of the Carolinas.  A leak in one of the seals between the paddle wheel shafts and the ship's sides sealed its fate.  

~ and there is something that an Insurance Company brought out too .. on that  morning of August 24, 1857, the president of Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company announced that its New York branch had suspended payments.  The company had large mortgage holdings and was the liaison to other Ohio investment banks. Ohio Life failed due to fraudulent activities by the company's management, and its failure threatened to precipitate the failure of other Ohio banks or even worse, to create a run on the banks.  According to an article in the New York Daily Times, Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company's "New York City and Cincinnati [branches were] suspended; with liabilities, it is said, of $7,000,000".  The failure of Ohio Life brought attention to the financial state of the railroad industry and land markets, thereby causing the financial panic to become a more public issue.

Away in United Kingdom, aged 70 years, 109 days, Palmerston became the oldest person in British political history to be appointed Prime Minister for the first time. Henry John Temple, ( 1784 – 1865) was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Palmerston dominated British foreign policy during the period 1830 to 1865, when Britain was at the height of its imperial power.  Palmerston passed the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, which for the first time made it possible for courts to grant a divorce and removed divorce from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts. In June news came to Britain of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Palmerston sent Sir Colin Campbell and reinforcements to India. Palmerston also agreed to transfer the authority of the British East India Company to the Crown. This was enacted in the Government of India Act 1858. After the Italian republican Felice Orsini tried to assassinate the French emperor with a bomb made in Britain, Palmerston introduced a Conspiracy to Murder bill, which made it a felony to plot in Britain to murder someone abroad.

~ and in 1857 US economy collapsed with the financial panic.  The Panic of 1857 was a financial panic in the United States caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy. Because of the interconnectedness of the world economy by the 1850s, the financial crisis that began in late 1857 was the first worldwide economic crisis.  In Britain, the Palmerston government circumvented the requirements of the Bank Charter Act 1844, which required gold and silver reserves to back up the amount of money in circulation. Beginning in September 1857, the financial downturn did not last long; however, a proper recovery was not seen until the American Civil War, in 1861. The sinking of SS Central America contributed to the panic of 1857, as New York banks were awaiting a much-needed shipment of gold. American banks did not recover until after the civil war. After the failure of Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company, the financial panic quickly spread as businesses began to fail, the railroad industry experienced financial declines, and hundreds of workers were laid off.

Since the years immediately preceding the Panic of 1857 were prosperous, many banks, merchants, and farmers had seized the opportunity to take risks with their investments and as soon as market prices began to fall, they quickly began to experience the effects of financial panic.   Because of the telegraph, word of the office closure spread quickly and many investors, already shaky over declining markets, caused a financial panic. The markets wouldn't recover until two years later.  By 1859, the Panic began to level off and the economy had begun to stabilize. President James Buchanan, after announcing that the paper-money system seemed to be the root cause of the Panic, decided to withdraw the usage of all bank notes under twenty dollars.  He also revealed this new strategy of "reform not relief", expressing his feeling that "the government sympathized but could do nothing to alleviate the suffering individuals".

The results of the Panic of 1857 were that the largely agrarian southern economy, which also had few railroads, suffered little, whereas the northern economy took a significant hit and made a slow recovery. The area affected the most by the Panic was the Great Lakes region, and the troubles of that region were "quickly passed to those enterprises in the East that depended upon western sales."  Near the end of the Panic, in 1859, tensions between the North and South regarding the issue of slavery in the United States were increasing.


Commander William Lewis Herndon, a distinguished officer who had served during the Mexican–American War and explored the Amazon Valley, was captain of Central America, that sank.   Decades later, the ship was located by the Columbus-America Discovery Group of Ohio, led by Tommy Gregory Thompson, using Bayesian search theory in Sept 1988.  Significant amounts of gold and artifacts were recovered and brought to the surface by another ROV built specifically for the recovery.   A recovered gold ingot weighing 80 lb (36 kg) sold for a record $8 million and was recognized as the most valuable piece of currency in the world at that time. Thirty-nine insurance companies filed suit, claiming that because they paid damages in the 19th century for the lost gold, they had the right to it. The team that found it argued that the gold had been abandoned. After a legal battle, 92% of the gold was awarded to the discovery team in 1996.

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that the Constitution of the United States was not meant to include American citizenship for black people, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and therefore the rights and privileges it confers upon American citizens could not apply to them. The plaintiff in the case was Dred Scott, an enslaved black man whose owners had taken him from Missouri, which was a slave-holding state, into the Missouri Territory, most of which had been designated "free" territory by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. When his owners later brought him back to Missouri, Scott sued in court for his freedom, claiming that because he had been taken into "free" U.S. territory, he had automatically been freed, and was legally no longer a slave. Scott sued first in Missouri state court, which ruled that he was still a slave under its law. He then sued in U.S. federal court, which ruled against him by deciding that it had to apply Missouri law to the case. He then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Aug 2019.
Ps: recovered gold photos : credit - https://www.pcgs.com/shipofgold

Friday, August 23, 2019

animals as pets ~ heard of Alpacas !!


My knowledge of animals and their classification is so low that if I were to name 10 wild animals – would stick to the option of 4 Tigers, 4 Lions and 2 Rhinos….  I have never heard or read of an animal with the scientific name ‘Lama Pacos’ – there appears so many pets other than the common cats, dogs, fish, birds and .. remember the camel of Manisha Koirala that would bite Goundamani in Shankar’s Indian movie.

An alpaca,  is a domesticated species of South American camelid ! It resembles a small llama in appearance. Camelids are members of the biological family Camelidae.  Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order along with pigs, hippopotami, deer, giraffes, cattle, goats, antelope, and many others.   Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at high altitudes throughout the year. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fibre.  Alpaca fibre is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool.  The fibre comes in more than 52 natural colours as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.  Adorable, docile and soft, alpacas are prized as pets and cattle around the world. There are no wild alpacas. Alpacas are domesticated versions of vicuñas.  Guanacos and vicuñas are found throughout the Andes Mountains. It is stated that around  6,000 years ago, people in the Andes began to domesticate them.

.. .. and Alpacas as pets are in news ! – some controversy of course !!  ~  Animal rights organisation PETA has branded teachers of a private prep school as bad as 'sexists and racists' to buy four alpacas as pets.  St Edwards School's Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, UK,  where students pay £13,620 a year, currently have two alpacas - a mother Ariel and its baby Cria - a brood of chickens and a herd of goats.  Now the school has made an application to Cheltenham Borough Council to add two small alpacas, four castrated micro pigs, as well as 12 poultry birds for egg-laying. The new additions will be added to the school's farmyard where the animals are petted by the children for half an hour each day during the school's Farm Club’ but activists PETA have slammed the private school calling them 'speciesist' !?!? – what ?

PETA's Director of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi said in a statement to MailOnline: 'Like sexism, racism, and all other toxic "isms", speciesism – the idea that other species are here for humans to treat as toys or props, use, and abuse – has no place in an educational institution.'  'St Edward's Cheltenham should not be teaching children to view animals as objects for their amusement but rather be instructing them in what we know today about their sentience, intelligence, emotional life, and behavioural needs.'  They further said - 'Responsible parents should question the ethics of arranging for infant animals to be taken from their loving mothers and sold to the highest bidder.

'PETA urges Cheltenham Borough Council to reject the school's animal "wish list", and we're rushing some of our humane education packs to the school, in the hope that teachers and students alike will be inspired to replace lessons in insensitivity with ones in respect and kindness.'  A post on the school's website said: 'Having the Farm onsite allows us to provide our pupils with hands-on experience of caring for animals.'  The private prep school, where students pay £13,620 a year, has made an application to Cheltenham Borough Council to add two small alpacas, four castrated micro pigs, as well as 12 poultry birds for egg-laying.  'We encourage all our pupils to be mindful of their environmental responsibility and have respect for the world around them.  The post continued: 'Farm Club is just one of the ways in which we can help to further their understanding of the importance of environmental issues.

Alpacas are far more expensive than the typical class hamster - female alpacas cost between £3,000 and £10,000, while male studs can go for as much as £50,000. The posh school - set in 45 acres of land - even has an on-site farmer to soil the paddock twice a day and a pest controller who inspects the farm every week.

Before concluding on cruelty to animals – ongoing study at the University of Kiel in Germany measures methane emissions in a strange way – by attaching sensors to cows.  The harnesses are laden with sensors to track how much of the gas they make.  This is designed to track the efficiency of a new herb-based diet to reduce CH4 ! – human research states that  Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, trapping 30 times more heat than the same amount of carbon dioxide.  So a  bizarre science experiment is strapping harnesses laden with scientific equipment to cows to monitor how much methane is in their flatulence.

What does one call that ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Aug 2019.