Monday, February 17, 2020

do you like chocolates ? - and are you a diabetic ?!?


How fond are you of sweets & chocolates ?  -  It certainly is not a cherished  feeling, when not able to !  ~ one feels the whole World is merrily eating; there are eateries everywhere around .. .. but, but, one could not eat – because of health conditions – restricted intake, and total abstinence of sweets .. .. most weak-hearted would succumb easily and would steal some sweets and eat them clandestinely ! – that feeling ! .. .. even for those who were not very fond of sweets in their childhood and for some good branded chocolates were simply not within reach !

Chocolates are sweet and the very word  enamours children and elders.  It  is of Spanish origin and  comprises a number of raw and processed foods produced from the seed of tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Its beans after fermentation are dried, cleaned, roasted, shell removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then groun to cocoa mass – pure chocolate in rough form.  Chocolate candy, chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, anything with chocolate is delicious. Chocolates  are made of cocoa bean.... the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted. A cocoa pod (fruit) has a rough and leathery rind about 3 cm thick (this varies with the origin and variety of pod). It is filled with sweet, mucilaginous pulp (called 'baba de cacao' in South America) enclosing 30 to 50 large seeds that are fairly soft and white to a pale lavender color. While seeds are usually white, they become violet or reddish brown during the drying process.  Republic of Ghana,  in West Africa is famous for cocoa beans.  Toblerone  is a Swiss chocolate bar brand owned by Mondel─ôz International, Inc.,  It is well known for its distinctive prism shape (triangular prism or pentahedron).  Here we have Cadburys and more !

A diabetic eating chocolate may raise eyebrows amongst some people but within reason, chocolate needn’t be completely cut out of his  diet, some studies say.  In most cases, chocolate will cause blood sugar levels to rise and in light of this it’s best to limit chocolate consumption to small amounts, if one could not abstain eating when blood sugars are already higher than the recommended blood glucose levels. Chocolate contains a number of beneficial nutrients, some of which called flavonoids are thought to guard against heart disease. However, it should be noted that larger quantities of chocolate can be disadvantageous to health in other ways too.  When larger amount of chocolate is consumed, it will raise blood sugars which increases the risk of complications, of which cardiovascular problems is one.  The  calorific content of chocolate is relatively high and therefore overconsumption of chocolate could lead to weight gain which also raises the risk of heart problems.

Some say that ‘dark chocolates’ can be had by Diabetics.  A new CMFE Insights report, presents a holistic overview of the global Sugar Free Dark Chocolate market by analyzing the past and the current performance of this market. The report, titled Global Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Report also evaluates the key trends and other significant factors, which are influencing the market's growth, to gain a clear understanding of this market.  Sugar free chocolates are not only healthy for diabetics' patients but also helps consumers achieve the without giving up the food they love, Hence, these factors will support the growth of this market during the forecast market (Volume) for sugar-free chocolate is estimated to grow at the rate of about +6 % from 2020 to 2026.  Those manufacturers claim that Dark chocolate boasts many added health benefits when compared to the standard milk chocolate bar: It's packed with antioxidants, additional nutrients, and is rich in fiber. But, the best sugar-free dark chocolate takes those health benefits one step further by eliminating artificial sugars, making it a great choice for health-conscious chocolate lovers as well as anyone with diabetes.  The promo says that one should check for the percentage of cacao in your chocolate. True dark chocolate products contain anywhere from 70 to 100 percent cacao, and the higher that number is, the richer and more bitter the chocolate will taste. Luckily, most sugar-free dark chocolates are sweetened with stevia and other sugar alternatives that help offset the bitterness of a high percentage of cacao.

Sugar-free, No sugar added, Sugar substitutes used, lesser sugar, little sugar contained – are not synonyms .. .. here is some news on sugar chocolate.  The Swiss food giant said demand for its Milkybar Wowsomes had been "underwhelming". The bars used what Nestle described as "hollow" sugar crystals to cut the amount of sugar by almost a third. Confectionery makers have come under pressure from health authorities to cut the amount of sugar in their products. Nestle's Milkybar Wowsomes was the first product to use technology developed by the company that creates sugar with a more porous structure, which it likened to hollowing out the sugar crystals.

Some industry experts had seen the discovery as a breakthrough that would help Nestle take a leading position in a growing market for low-sugar products. At the time of the launch Stefano Agostini, Nestle's chief executive for UK and Ireland, said: "A new product like Milkybar Wowsomes introduces greater choice and allows parents to treat their children with chocolate that tastes great but has less sugar. "We are demonstrating how we can, and will, contribute to a healthier future and that we take our public health responsibilities very seriously," he added. Last year, reduced sugar versions of Mars and Snickers were launched by Mars Wrigley UK, while Mondelez ¬followed suit with low-sugar Cadbury Dairy Milk. Nestle said it is now working on new sugar reduction technology that it aims to introduce next year.

The announcement highlights a major issue facing the world's big processed food producers. While governments and many consumers have called for lower-sugar products, most people have yet to warm to less sweet alternatives. Attempts to cut obesity rates have seen processed food giant Unilever this week promise to stop marketing its products to children. The maker of Twister ice cream and Popsicle ice lollies, said it would limit the use of cartoon characters in its advertising. Not a great news for the chocolate lovers especially diabetics among them.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th Feb 2020.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

MACT appeal ... and something on Goa


Any comments or observations on this photo ?

Two months. 38 teams. Three Groups- Plate, Elite Group C & Group A & B. 169 four-day games, and it took the final day of the league-stage to decide the quarterfinalists of the 2019-20 edition of what has been a fascinating season of Ranji Trophy cricket.   To enthuse more interest into it -  most of the high-profile teams like Mumbai, Delhi, defending champions Vidarbha, Tamil Nadu have all failed to make it to the final eight, a testimony to the level of competitiveness of India’s premier domestic tournament.

In the 1st Quarter finals at Valsad on Feb 20, Gujarat would play Goa ! -  Goan Wicket keeper would be Smit Kamleshbhai Patel, who led India U19 in 2012 – he has played for Gujarat, West zone, Tripura and now Goa.  The other QF matches would be : J&K V Karnataka; Bengal V Odisha and Saurashtra V Andhra.  A couple of years back, when Goa played Hyderabad at Porvorim, the selection of Asaduddin raised eye-brows as many in Goa resented that he was pushed to the arena by his father Mohammad Azharuddin.

Calangute is a town in North Goa, famous for its beach. The beach is the largest in North Goa and visited by thousands of domestic and international tourists alike. The baga beach offers water sport activities like parasailing and water skiing, among others.  Goa State lies  within the region known as the Konkan, and geographically separated from the Deccan highlands by the Western Ghats. It is surrounded by  Maharashtra, Karnataka & Arabian Sea. Panaji is the state's capital, while Vasco da Gama is its largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter.  In the 3rd century BC, Goa was part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur sultan Yusuf Adil Shah and   set up a permanent settlement in Velha Goa.  After India gained independence from the British in 1947, India requested that Portuguese territories on the Indian subcontinent be ceded to India. Portugal refused to negotiate on the sovereignty of its Indian enclaves. On 19 Dec 1961, the Indian Army ensured annexation of Goa by  Operation Vijay.   

Recently, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant played Good Samaritan by attending to an accident victim who was lying on the road at Khandepar near Ponda town. Mr Sawant instructed his driver to stop the carcade when he saw that a man had fallen on the roadside after having met with an accident.  It was stated that the man, who had been riding a two-wheeler, was lying in a pool of blood.  On the Chief Minister's orders, one of the escort vehicles rushed the injured man to a state-run hospital in Ponda town. 
In case you had not observed that in the photo – some of them are commercial vehicles – ‘scooters on rent’ – given on hire.  At Goa, tourists can hire two-wheelers and cars and roam around the city.  Last month, there was a road accident – hours after a woman tourist from Maharashtra died in a road accident on a major bridge near Panaji as her scooter collided with a four-wheeler, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant  wondered why tourists who cannot even drive hire self-driven vehicles.  Self-driven vehicles offered on hire are popular with tourists in Goa, who prefer to hire and drive two wheelers and cars by the day, in order to avoid expensive taxi drivers.    Media reports stated that increasing number of accidents on Goan roads has emerged as a cause for concern in Goa, forcing the state traffic police to crack down severely on errant driving practices.

Insurers are always worried about road accidents and the ensuing liabilities .. . Here is something on an Appeal preferred by United India. The insurer took exception to the judgment by MACT in Nov 2018 questioning the quantum of compensation awarded.   It was a petition filed on a fatal accident and the MACT awarded compensation of Rs.14,40,800/- with interest thereon at 9% per annum jointly and severally on all Respondents including the Insurers.

Filing an appeal, the Insurers contended that there was no material placed on record on behalf of the respondents to establish the employment of the deceased nor was any muster roll placed on record despite the examination of the so called employer. The said respondents had also not placed any bank passbook on record and therefore, there was no basis for the learned MACT to fix the income of the deceased at `9,000/- per month and award the compensation as it did. They  placed reliance in Rani Vs. National Insurance company Ltd. and others,{Civil Appeal Nos. 9078 - 9079 of 2017}, to buttress his contention that in the absence of any proof of income, the learned Tribunal was in error to fix the income of the deceased at `9000/- per month.

However, the Court decreed that MACT had considered   the fact that the deceased was employed as a pump attendant proved from the examination of the Petrol Pump owner and on that basis took the proved income of the deceased at `9000/- per month. It considered the other judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in National Insurance Company Limited Vs. Pranay Sethi and Ors. {2017 SCC OnLine SC 1270} and on that basis applying the multiplier of 18 computed the compensation at `14,40,800/-.   The Honble High Court opined that there was nothing amiss in the judgment of  MACT in awarding the compensation as it did either while accepting the income of the deceased and applying the rate of interest to the case at hand. Therefore, the Court considered that  no interference is called for with the judgment under challenge. The Appellate Court passed award confirming the earlier award of MACT  and went on record stating : ‘ It goes without saying that the appeal does not survive and is hereby dismissed with no orders as to costs’. 

In case you are further interested in knowing the above is a recent judgement of Bombay High Court Bench at Goa.  The Bombay High Court  is one of the oldest High Courts of India. It’s jurisdiction covers the states of Maharashtra and Goa, and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The High Court has regional branches at Nagpur and Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Panaji, the capital of Goa.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Feb 2020.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Kambala race ~ has Srinivasa Gowda ran 100M in less than 10 sec and broken Bolt too !


My favourite writer genius  Sujatha wrote a novel in Kumudam titled ’10 second mutham’ – a story of an Indian female athlete who is trained to break the barrier of 10 seconds and her emotional relationship with the coach formed the nucleus of that story.  Olympics 2008 at Beijing  was all about Usain Bolt.   In the 100M final, Bolt broke new ground, winning in 9.69 seconds.   Later he  cut a few more seconds out of that.  9.58 is the World Record and 9.69 is the Olympic record in 100M and both belong to Bolt. 

.. .. perhaps where do you run matters most !  .. .. a  kambala  is an culture of Tulunadu, Karnataka, mostly realated to harvesting – it is in fact a buffalo race on a slushy field.    Traditionally, it is sponsored by local Tuluva landlords and households in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, a region collectively known as Tulu Nadu. The kambla season generally starts harvesting of paddy this region in November and lasts until March. The kambalas are organized through kambala samithis (Kambala Associations- and one such race has turned the Nation and Global attention .. the man at the centre of attraction #SrinivasaGowda  - a Kambala jockey from Mjar simply said – I am a runner on a slushy paddy field but his images are now trending on all social media including twitter with the news that National Sports Ministry is keen to have a look at him and train him !!

Athletics is  very interesting  ~  Sprint race or 100m dash is one which is most charming. It will be all over in less than 10 secs and more replays would only reveal the actual way it finished. The video slow mo and guns would exactly pin point who actually won and the timing with which they finished – perhaps not in all races.

When Seoul Olympics was on air live in 1988, the heart throb was Ben Johnson, born in Jamaica but running for Canada – one of the firsts to break the 10 sec barrier.  It was indeed thrilling  to watch Ben Johson finish with 9.79 seconds. Actually closer to the finish, he turned his neck to see where his competitors were and started celebrating with a hallmark rise of fingers. He was praised so much and the race would remain etched in one’s memory. It is another matter that he was snatched of the Gold in a few days due to his testing positive for the prohibited drug - stanozolol.  He actually  completed the lap in 48 strides !!  As he was stripped, Carl Lewis's 9.92 became the official world record, Linford Christie of the United Kingdom, who originally won the bronze medal, was elevated to silver.

The talk in this generation is Usain Bolt who has many achievements to his credit.    A nine-time Olympic gold medalist, Bolt won the 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m relay at three consecutive Olympic Games, although he lost the 2008 relay gold medal about nine years after due to a teammate's doping disqualification. He gained worldwide fame for his double sprint victory in world record times at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the first person to hold both records since fully automatic time became mandatory. He is the most successful athlete of the World Championships, was the first athlete to win four World Championship titles in the 200 m and is the joint-most successful in the 100 m with three titles. Bolt improved upon his second 100 m world record of 9.69 with 9.58 seconds in 2009 – the biggest improvement since the start of electronic timing. He has twice broken the 200 metres world record, setting 19.30 in 2008 and 19.19 in 2009. His achievements as a sprinter have earned him the media nickname "Lightning Bolt".

The news on air is that a construction worker from Karnataka has reportedly  beaten Usain Bolt's 100-metre world record with the help of two buffaloes. Srinivasa Gowda, 28, from Karntaka, south-west India, was taking part in Kambala - where people sprint more than 100 metres through rice fields while holding two buffaloes - when he appeared to beat Bolt's time.  The Olympian set a pace of 9.58 seconds in 2009, but Gowda reportedly covered his first 100 metres in just 9.55 seconds. Overall, it reportedly took the construction worker just 13.62 seconds to cover the total distance of 142.4 metres.  Following his performance, which was in front of hundreds of spectators, Mr Gowda has reportedly  been called up for national trials.  He told Asia News International: 'People are comparing me to Usain Bolt. He is a world champion, I am only running in a slushy paddy field'.

Central Minister  Kiren Rijiu posted a picture of the 28-year-old in action and vowed that the top coaches in the country would train him.   He wrote: 'Yes @PMuralidharRao ji. Officials from SAI have contacted him. His rail ticket is done and he will reach SAI centre on Monday. Fans responded to the video by suggesting that Mr Gowda may end up winning gold at the Olympics. They wrote: 'This guy will surely get us a gold medal at the Olympics.' The national secretary of Bharatiya Janata Party wrote on Twitter: 'India will rise and shine the Indic way! 100 meters in just 9.55 sec is an amazing feat. Proper training to Srinivas Gowda will definitely help him to make name for the country. My best wishes'

Mr Gowda told news reporters  that he had been competing in Kambala for seven years.  The lightening-fast man also praised the two buffalo for doing so well.  Kambala roughly translates as 'paddy-growing in mud field' in Tulu, the local language.  In  2014, India's supreme court issued a ban on races with bulls. This came primarily in response to calls to ban a form of bull-fighting known as Jallikattu.  But two years later, Karnataka's state court stopped all Kambala events with an interim order.  The changes led to the sport being allowed once more in the state in 2018, but with conditions attached - including a ban on whips. 

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Feb 2020. Pics from twitter.

trade in ivory and tusks - of elephants and woolly mammoths !!


Is Ivory trade legal should not be the Q ? – is there a real need for trading on a body part of an animal should be !.. ..  Ivory, the hard, white material derived from the tusks and teeth of animals, especially the elephant is very costly. It is used in art and manufacture.  It consists of dentine, a tissue that is similar to bone. It has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes and joint tubes. Ivory has many ornamental uses. Prior to the introduction of plastics, it was used for billiard balls, piano keys, Scottish bagpipes, buttons and a wide range of ornamental items.  Whether it is costly or useful ~ it looks good on an elephant and is its body part, not an ornamental piece meant for your display…………..
a majestic komban (tusker) at Guruvayur

Unfortunately, the value people have attached to elephant ivory has also fuelled conflict and been linked to organized crime, perpetuating a bloody trade that harms the pachyderm alike. Almost all the world’s illegal ivory comes from elephants that have been recently killed, researchers say. Sadly, African elephants have been poached and killed cruelly in getting ivory.  It is not new, Ivory has been traded for hundreds of years by people in Africa and Asia, resulting in restrictions and bans. Elephant ivory has been exported from Africa and Asia for centuries with records going back to the 14th century BCE. Throughout the colonization of Africa ivory was removed, often using slaves to carry the tusks, to be used for piano keys, billiard balls and other expressions of exotic wealth.

Thousands of years ago, an elephant-like creature called the woolly mammoth roamed Earth. Except for fossilized bones and remains found trapped in ice, it’s now gone. Mammoths and elephants are two groups of long-trunked, big-tusked and typically enormous herbivores that both enjoy a long and storied relationship with human beings. Aside from the obvious fact that mammoths are extinct, a number of physical, ecological and geographic differences distinguish these behemoths.

The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is an extinct species of mammoth that lived during the Pleistocene until its extinction in the early Holocene epoch. It was one of the last in a line of mammoth species, beginning with Mammuthus subplanifrons in the early Pliocene. The woolly mammoth diverged from the steppe mammoth about 400,000 years ago in East Asia. Mammoth remains had long been known in Asia before they became known to Europeans in the 17th century. The woolly mammoth was roughly the same size as modern African elephants. The woolly mammoth coexisted with early humans, who used its bones and tusks for making art, tools, and dwellings, and the species was also hunted for food. With the greed of man, changing climate, wars and environs, they slowly became  extinct !.

Dwarf woolly mammoths that lived on Siberia's Wrangel Island until about 4,000 years ago were plagued by genetic problems, carrying DNA that increased their risk of diabetes, developmental defects and low sperm count, a new study finds. These mammoths couldn't even smell flowers, the researchers reported.  Wrangel Island is a peculiarity. The vast majority of woolly mammoths died out at the end of the last ice age, about 10,500 years ago. But because of rising sea levels, a population of woolly mammoths became trapped on Wrangel Island and continued living there until their demise about 3,700 years ago. This population was so isolated and so small that it didn't have much genetic diversity, the researchers wrote in the new study. Without genetic diversity, harmful genetic mutations likely accumulated as these woolly mammoths inbred, and this "may have contributed to their extinction," the researchers wrote in the study.

Elsewhere the Miners - or tuskers as they are also known - bore into permafrost along the Yakutia river to recover the remains.  MailOnline reports that the tusks  can fetch around $34,000 for 65kg while woolly rhino horns can be worth their weight in gold.  Once extracted, the prehistoric remains are sold at markets in Hong Kong and medicine shops in Vietnam. 

Russian miners are risking their lives and making a fortune by unearthing prehistoric woolly mammoth tusks preserved in the permafrost and selling them for thousands on the Asian 'ethical ivory' market. They bore 200ft tunnels into hillsides along the Yakutia river, about 4,300 miles east of Moscow, searching for the 'white gold' which, once carved, can fetch up to $1million. The miners, who spend around five months searching for the remains in the Russian wilderness, also sell the tusks of woolly rhinos, worth more than their weight in gold, which are ground up to be sold as medicine in Vietnam. Mammoth tusks were considered for protected status by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) last year, in an attempt to limit this trade.

The remains thus unearthed  can fetch $34,000 for 65kg, reports FreeRadioEurope. They are cleaned with grass once found and wrapped in cling film before being taken to traders. Tusks pulled from the ground on the expedition fetched an estimated $100,000 for one pair, while one tusk that weighed in at 65kg was sold for $34,000.   The huge money income makes the residents clamour for this mining.  Residents head on these expeditions because a find offers a life-changing sum of money, compared to the average $500-a-month that they would receive on an average wage in the region. Despite the stories of getting rich quick, however, most miners - or tuskers as they are also known - go home with nothing.  Dr Valery Platnikov, a paleontologist familiar with tusking sites, said that 'only around 20 to 30 per cent of tuskers will find something significant enough to make a profit'.

After setting camp along the river Yakutia, in this case five hours from the nearest small town, the miners were pictured using pumps to blast the permafrost open and reveal the treasures hidden beneath. To keep the expedition cheap, they use Soviet-era Buran snowmobile engines, converted into water pumps for mining and remain at the camps throughout the season. They are also surrounded by swarms of mosquitoes as they work on warmer days and, as a result, many are seen wearing clothes more suited to keeping bees than hard labour. The bones and tusks have survived as they were entombed in the frozen permafrost, which has stopped organisms from breaking them down.

The miners also employ look outs, in case police turn up. The fine is relatively small - at $45 - but landing three of these could leave a miner facing serious charges. There are mammoth mining licences but in recent years Chinese traders have turned more and more to the black market, as legal miners have not delivered enough ivory, reports Wired. One trader that they spoke to who has a licence said that most of his mammoth remains are still stuck with customs - more than a year after he tried to export them.

Mammoths once patrolled Russia's frozen wastes from 400,000 years ago until their population declined at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 years ago. A few hung on on outcrops of land, such as Wrangel Island, until they finally died out around 4,000 years ago, it is stated ~ but there still exists market for those body parts ! – called tusks and ivory ! – strange are the ways of mankind.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Feb 2020.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Christina Koch returns after long stay in space - on line for another great moment ?

Have you ever stayed away from your home for months together and how home-sick are you ?.. .. .. this woman astronaut  did not set out to break records on her first spaceflight, but with her return to Earth after nearly a year in orbit, her mission is now one for the history books.

Koch, a NASA astronaut, landed on the snow-covered steppe of Kazakhstan on Thursday (Feb. 6) with two of her International Space Station (ISS) crewmates, Expedition 61 commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.  Descending under a parachute and further slowed by braking thrusters, the three touched down aboard Russia's Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft southeast of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan at 4:12 a.m. EST (0912 GMT or 3:12 p.m. local time).

Christina Hammock Koch  is an American engineer and NASA astronaut of the class of 2013. She received Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics, and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University. She also did advanced study while working for the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Just before becoming an astronaut, she served with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as Station Chief for American Samoa.

On March 14, 2019, Koch launched to the International Space Station as a Flight Engineer on Expedition 59, 60 and 61. On October 18, 2019, she and Jessica Meir were the first women to participate in an all-female spacewalk. On Dec 28, 2019, Koch broke the record for longest continuous time in space by a woman. She returned from space on Feb 6, 2020.  .. would she achieve more is the Q now – as there are talks on whether the record-setting NASA astronatu be the 1st woman on the moon? Koch said she'd be honored to be part of a 2024 moon landing.  She is basking in all glory after her recent return to mother  Earth after a record 328 days in space-  NASA astronaut Christina Koch just spent 11 months in Earth orbit, and she'd welcome a trip much farther afield. The U.S. space agency is working to land two astronauts, at least one of whom will be a woman, on the surface of the moon by 2024, as directed last year by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. NASA has not yet selected those two spaceflyers, but Koch said she'd definitely answer the call if her name came up.

 No woman has ever served aboard the orbiting lab for a longer continuous stint, and Koch's mission came up just 12 days shy of the American single-spaceflight record, which Scott Kelly set in 2016. These long-duration missions are designed to help NASA and the international human-spaceflight community prepare for trips to deep-space destinations, especially Mars, which is a six- to nine-month ride away from Earth using current propulsion technology.  NASA aims to put boots on the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s, and the agency plans to use the moon as a steppingstone on that epic journey. The 2024 lunar landing, which is part of NASA's Artemis program of moon exploration, is designed to advance this long-term vision.



Meantime MailOnline reports that NASA astronaut Christina Koch felt like a 'two-week-old' baby after returning from a record-breaking 328-day stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS).  Aside from sore muscles and trouble with balance, she told reporters that she's readjusting well to gravity, although her neck hurt for about a day.  'What I have noticed is that my balance has taken a little while to get used to,' she said in Houston on Wednesday, six days after returning to Earth.   Koch considers herself lucky she didn't have the sore feet and burning skin suffered by NASA's all-time endurance champ, Scott Kelly, whose returned to earth four years ago after a 340-day mission.  Koch returned home to Galveston, Texas, to find a kitchen full of chips and salsa, something she'd craved in orbit.  She hit the beach with her husband, Bob, and their dog, a rescue pup called LBD, or Little Brown Dog, just three days after her landing in Kazakhstan. 'I'm not sure who was more excited to see the other,' Koch said. 'It's just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favourite animal.'

Koch said that it only took her about three months to feel at home on the ISS, and that daily activities started to feel normal – even floating due to the low gravity.   'I kind of forgot I was floating until a new crew would come and they would be so excited about floating,' she said.  Koch also advised the next generation of female space explorers to follow their passions and 'do what scares you'. 'Do the things that might feel like they're just out of your reach, they're intriguing you, they're drawing you in, but you don't know for sure if you can do it. 'Go after that thing – not only will you maximally impact the world but you'll get the most personal fulfilment out of it and use that as a springboard.'

Koch surpassed the previous record set for a single spaceflight by a woman – 289 days, set by NASA veteran Peggy Whitson in 2017 – on December 28, 2019. As well as breaking the record for longest continuous time in space by a woman, Koch also ranks seventh on the list for overall time spent in space by US astronauts. 

Interesting to read the great accomplishment

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th Feb 2020.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A rose by other name ! ~ Corona Virus is officially named COVID-19


Certainly a topic which none would like to read and get to know more details .. sad it is an epidemic of mammoth proportions !

An epidemic (from Greek  epi "upon or above") is the rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less. Epidemics of infectious disease are generally caused by several factors including a change in the ecology of the host population. Generally, an epidemic occurs when host immunity to either an established pathogen or newly emerging novel pathogen is suddenly reduced below that found in the endemic equilibrium and the transmission threshold is exceeded. The epidemic triangle is essentially an equation. It posits that every outbreak, regardless of its specific traits, is dependent on the interplay between three factors: the pathogen (the agent causing infection), the host (the organism at risk of infection) and the environment (the setting where the infections occur). Every single epidemic — be it the flu, cholera or even behavioral epidemics like drunken driving — is the result of a dynamic shift in one of these points of the epidemic triangle, which then causes a domino effect leading to a sudden explosion of new cases.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is a popular reference to William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her family's rival house of Montague, that is, that he is named "Montague". The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

The whole World is concerned and talking about a deadly virus, derived from that word meaning crown or halo, which refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virions): they have a fringe reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona. A corona (meaning 'crown' in Latin derived from Ancient Greek) is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars. The Sun's corona extends millions of kilometres into outer space and is most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but it is also observable with a coronagraph. Light from the corona comes from three primary sources, from the same volume of space.

The news is the coronavirus causing a deadly outbreak in China has been named COVID-19, the World Health Organization has announced. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the global body, announced the new name at a conference in Geneva this afternoon. It comes almost six weeks after the virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, China, in late December. Since then it has infected more than 43,000 people and killed 1,018. The virus, which has had various names from simply coronavirus to Wuhan coronavirus, Chinese coronavirus or even snake flu, needs its own moniker because it is just one type of coronavirus.

The word refers to a group of viruses which contains those that cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Coronaviruses are so named because their structure has jagged edges which look like a royal crown – corona is crown in Latin.  'Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease. 'Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks. A name had been expected since scientists at the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) last week announced they had decided on one.

The name COVID-19 has now been approved and will hopefully be used by 'everybody', the WHO said, to avoid stigmatising or confusing names.  It also allows for it to refer to the 'entire spectrum of clinical conditions' which the virus can cause, said WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, meaning it is not specific to certain symptoms.  SARS and MERS on the other hand, have names which only refer to the effects they have on the lungs – the respiratory effects – and not anything else. The World Health Organization has an international set of rules which scientists must follow when proposing new names for a virus. They must not contain references to certain places in the world, communities, human names or animals because they may cause a 'backlash' or racism. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is listed as a bad example, as well as Spanish Flu, Lyme disease, Japanese encephalitis, swine flu, bird flu and monkey pox.  Other words to avoid are ones which might induce fear, such as 'unknown', 'death', 'fatal' or 'epidemic'.

So that deadly epidemic that has caused death of more than 1000 people in China has a name.  Streets wear a deserted look in Beijing, a city home to more than 20million people, as people stay home out of fear of catching the virus. Hazmat-wearing laboratory technicians are pictured talking to residents of the city of Linyi, where they are investigating the virus.  The danger when you don't have an official name is that people start using terms like China Virus, and that can create a backlash against certain populations.

Health bulletins state that someone who is infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze. At least 1,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 43,000 have been infected in at least 28 countries and regions. But some media predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. 

A coronavirus (now COVID 19) is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body's normal functions. The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak.  Scientists state that Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31. According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation. Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.  However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.  Antibiotics do not work against viruses, Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take long time and huge amounts of money. Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people. People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11.2.2020

Sunday, February 9, 2020

India loses the finals of ICC U19 World Cup 2020


Salem has got a new attraction - SCF Cricket Ground at Kattuveppilaipatti near  the Shevaroy Hills.  Lush vegetation cradling the sides en route and the arrays of palm trees in the vicinity add splendour to the green outfield. Located at a distance of nearly 25 kms from the Salem town, the ground with a play area of 90 meters is the biggest in the State and accommodates five turf wickets. The facility also features 12 practice-turf wickets, players pavilion and press box.  Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami,  inaugurated the ground.  Many Ministers and Cricketer Rahul Dravid were present.

Down Under, the legends turned it on, the fans came in droves, and the Bushfire Cricket Bash achieved its chief purpose – raising more than $7.7m for the communities devastated by the fires that have ravaged Australia for months. On Sunday afternoon at Melbourne's Junction Oval, cricket royalty – and a smattering of footy legends – came together for a cause that has united the country across the summer, while also touching every corner of the cricket globe.

That was evident in the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh, Yuvraj Singh and Wasim Akram. Greats of the game, all of them, and they delivered, too.   In between innings, Tendulkar faced an over from Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland (three balls apiece).  Then the run chase began. Shane Watson bullied Wasim and co with a spectacular 30 from nine balls. Gilchrist hit his first ball for six – standard for the three-time World Cup winner – before being knocked over by Aussie Rules great Luke Hodge.

Anyway, Bushfire Cricket Bash legends match was only a fund-raiser and the real winners were those impacted by Australia's bushfires across a devastating summer.  Back in South Africa, there was scintillating Cricket.  50 Over International World Cup Finals of ICC U19 World Cup. 

India has played immaculate Cricket in U19 World cups  and in last 3 World Cup, they have lost only one match – 4 years back to West Indies in the Finals – today the youngsters faltered – cannot blame them.  It was quality innings by Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored 88 runs, took a brilliant catch, fielded so well and took a wicket too.  Ravi Bishnoi, appeared to be winning the match singlehandedly taking 4 wickets but perhaps after 6 overs, the field setting made him bowl more defensively. 

Earlier batting first India made a very sedate start.  After seeing Saxena toss his wicket away, Jaiswal watched No.3 Tilak Varma cop a fierce throw on the unprotected part of the knee and collapse onto the ground. Varma, though, shook the blow off and shored up India's innings with a 94-run stand for the second wicket.  The score card would not reveal the fascinating day’s play.  It reads :  Bangladesh Under-19s 170 for 7 (Emon 47, Ali 43*, Bishnoi 4-30) beat India Under-19s (Jaiswal 88, Das 3-40, Islam 2-31) by three wickets (via DLS method)

Yashasvi Jaiswal once again showed his class and his path to future, cracking 88 off 121 balls. After Jaiswal's dismissal, India panicked so much that at one point Dhruv Jorel and Atharva Ankolekar were running towards the same end and competed with each other in putting their bat down. After many sort of inconclusive replays,  it was Jurel, who was adjudged  run-out for 22 off 38 balls. His dismissal then set in motion an Indian collapse of 21 for 7 in 7.4 overs.  The fall of wickets tells the story. 1-9 (Divyaansh Saxena, 6.4 ov), 2-103 (Tilak Varma, 28.6 ov), 3-114 (Priyam Garg, 31.3 ov), 4-156 (Yashasvi Jaiswal, 39.5 ov), 5-156 (Siddhesh Veer, 39.6 ov), 6-168 (Dhruv Jurel, 42.2 ov), 7-170 (Ravi Bishnoi, 43.5 ov), 8-170 (Atharva Ankolekar, 44.1 ov), 9-172 (Kartik Tyagi, 44.6 ov), 10-177 (Sushant Mishra, 47.2 ov)

In pursuit of 178, Bangladesh started very well, were 50 without loss at one stage, then suffered  a similar collapse, losing 6 for 52, as both the sides seemed to be passing the trophy to each other. Dropped catches, fumbles, overthrows, over-the-top appeals, and some verbal jousting added to the drama of the 2020 Under-19 World Cup final. As expected,  rain made an appearance as well, leaving the sides scrambling for DLS calculations. After the weather cleared, the target was adjusted to 170, and Bangladesh needed seven off 30 balls with three wickets in hand. [from 17 odd runs, it came down to just 7 off 30 balls !]

Captain Akbar Ali and No.9 Rakibul Hasan rose above all the chaos upon resumption and coolly led Bangladesh to their first-ever ICC title at any level. It was Hasan who struck the winning runs, when he stepped out and launched the Under-19 Asia Cup hero Atharva Ankolekar over midwicket. The celebrations that followed were  crazy ~ to say the least.

So Bangladesh have now won the World Cup – they are the Champions in U19 Cricket.  Well played Indians – Priyam Garg and team, specially Jaiswal, Ravi Bishnoi, Thyagi .. .. …

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Feb 2020.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

India loses Auckland ODI and Series too ~ Luke Ronchi on field !!


·         Desperate Auckland homeowners are having to wait at least a month to replenish their water tanks, and demand for water is surging across the region. Many suppliers are having to turn away new bookings because they can't keep up. It's all hands to the pump as delivery tankers rush to quench thirsty households.

·         Auckland's controversial bed tax has survived a legal challenge in the High Court after a claim the multimillion-dollar rate is unlawful was rejected. Auckland mayor Phil Goff's policy was under attack from four major hotel owners who went to court claiming the rates were unfair. But a recent  judgement released by the High Court ruled in favour of the targeted rates.  The tax applies to hotels, motels, serviced apartments and online accommodation providers like Airbnb if they're rented for more than 28 nights per year.

You are reading all these – as India lost the 2nd ODI at Auckland and lost the Series too – after that whitewash in T20I !  - hence the subject matter of the post is a ‘fielder’ !

India legend Sachin Tendulkar has confirmed he would come out of retirement in order to face just one over during Sunday’s Big Appeal double-header at the Junction Oval. The former India batsman has accepted the challenge issued by Australia women team’s star allrounder Ellyse Perry. Sachin Tendulkar is currently in Australia for the upcoming Bushfire Cricket Bash. A number of legendary cricketers including Yuvraj Singh will play the match which is a 10-over per-side affair. In the innings break, Perry will bowl an over to Sachin Tendulkar with 10 of her Aussie teammates in the field.

Way back on Sunday, June 2, 2013 – I had posted this :

Even at a time when so much flowed in IPL and National channels busy with match fixing report and the temporary stepping aside of N. Srinivasan,  there is some excitement of Champions Trophy ~ the 8 Nation ODI tournament set to begin in England on 6th June 2013. For more on Champions Trophy : Champions Trophy 2013. Before you read further can you group :  WE Midwinter, Nawab of Pataudi Sr., Gul Mohammad, Amir elahi, John Traicos, Kepler Wessels, Ed Joyce, Eoin Morgan,  DP Nannes…………….

With many practice matches between the touring sides going on in England as a prelude for preparation of Champions trophy, England is playing touring Kiwis in an One day International and is all set to lose…. New Zealand made 359/3 with Martin Guptill making 189 not out in 155 balls in ODI no. 3361. That is not to be the highest in ODI… Virender Sehwag tops the list with 219; Sachin Tendulkar is the only other  double centurion with exactly 200 N.O.; Coventry of Zimbabwe made 194*; Saeed Anwar made 194 at Chepauk ~ Vivian Richards made the same 189 at Manchester in 1984; and Sanath Jayasuriya too made 189 at Sharjah……………

Guptill opened with Luke Ronchi………… would sound strange for regular Cricket follower ~ I thought Ronchi was an Aussie and played for Mumbai Indians earlier in IPL………..  Ronchi was actually born in New Zealand but raised mostly in Australia.  His first international incarnation came for Australia in the West Indies in 2008 when he stood in for the injured Brad Haddin in four ODIs and a Twenty20. Later he was dropped and was overtaken by Graham Manou, Tim Paine and Matthew Wade. At the end of 2011-12, he decided to try his luck in his country of birth and secured a contract with Wellington. His performances were strong enough to earn him a call-up to the New Zealand ODI side once he had qualified in 2013 and against England in May he debuted, becoming the first man since Kepler Wessels nearly 20 years earlier to represent two full ICC member nations.

The list in 2nd para is some of the players who have represented more than one country…

Today the scorecard of 2nd ODI at Auckland reads :  New Zealand 273 for 8 (Guptill 79, Taylor 73*, Jadeja 1-35) beat India (Jadeja 55, Iyer 52, Saini 45, Southee 2-41) by 22 runs.

The match looked gone and Indians were out – Saini came and we had heard that he would bowl fast.  He was not at all connecting but was swishing at everything early.  Then .. .. he started hitting runs – a bouncer was despatched over point for 6 and next bent on one knee, he scooped seam bowlers for 4.  So from a hopeless 153/7, chasing 274, Saini made it look as if it could be possible.  Ravindra Jadeja battled like he had been to the future and seen that he would score a half-century himself. Nothing he did, or said, or presented gave even the slightest hint that he ever thought a match-winning hand was beyond him. This after a 10-over spell where he gave away only three boundaries.

New Zealand were docked for bowling their overs too slowly in the second ODI. New Zealand were fined 60% of their match fee, with match referee Chris Broad ruling that Tom Latham's side were three overs short of the required target with time allowances being considered. New Zealand's ninth-wicket partnership scared up 76 runs in 51 balls. India's eighth wicket-partnership - at the height of an impossible chase - made 76 off 86.  While Jadeja was taking singles, Saini strained every nerve to hit runs. 

The equation reduced to 85 off 60. By now, New Zealand had run out of fit players - Mitchell Santner and Scott Kuggeleijn were unwell and many of their first-choice picks including Kane Williamson, who was at the ground, and Trent Boult were still recovering from injury. So their assistant coach Luke Ronchi was yanked out of the dressing room and stuck on the field.  We have seen substitutes – long long ago, there would be local substitutes for visiting teams (Sachin reportedly was once on field for Pakistan !) – today the man who had once played for Australia and later NZ but way back till 2017 came out to field against India at Auckland.

New Zealand assistant coach Luke Ronchi came out to field against India in the second ODI at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday with no player in the squad fit enough to replace Tim Southee in the outfield. Southee was reportedly ill but chose to play the match with the likes of Scott Kuggeleijn and Mitchell Santner reportedly unavailable with flu and a stomach bug respectively. Due to his illness, Southee ran through his 10 overs pretty early and went off the pitch and a few overs later, with no player there to replace him, Ronchi came on to field. The 38-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman last represented New Zealand in 2017 and is their assistant coach now.

Interesting !

With regards –S. Sampathkumar
8th Feb 2020