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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Artemis take-off delayed ! .. .. Challenger disaster in 1986

Chandamama, Moon has enamoured mankind from time immemorial.  Scientists have been working hard on reaching to space, moon for  scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers – the rage now is ‘Artemis’.  

With the whole World following its launch, Artemis 1 ran into trouble as team engineers noticed that one of the engines had an issue with the liquid hydrogen. The launch director had signed off on a plan to troubleshoot one of the RS-25 engines which was malfunctioning. But the troubleshooting plan did not work. The countdown clock was put on hold at T-40 minutes as the hydrogen team discussed options with the launch director.  

Artemis I is an uncrewed mission that will be the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon, eventually taking humans back to Earth’s lone satellite. During the mission, NASA will demonstrate the performance and capabilities of its most powerful launch vehicle ever, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Orion crew capsule. During the approximately six-week-long mission, SLS and Orion will travel a distance of around 65,000 kilometres to the Moon and back. With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. The aim is to have a long term presence on the moon and then the next giant leap -  sending the first astronauts to Mars.  NASA’s Artemis 1 launch has now  been postponed due to a malfunctioning RS-25 engine on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The  US space agency has not confirmed the next date for the launch, though there are two more launch windows. One is in four days on September 2, and the second is a few weeks down.

US has landed people on moon .. .. the  Space Shuttle program was the fourth human spaceflight program carried out by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which accomplished routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo from 1981 to 2011. Its official name, Space Transportation System (STS), was taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development.  It flew 135 missions and carried 355 astronauts from 16 countries, many on multiple trips. The Space Shuttle—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank; when its mission was complete, the orbiter would reenter the Earth's atmosphere and land like a glider at either the Kennedy Space Center or Edwards Air Force Base. The Shuttle is the only winged crewed spacecraft to have achieved orbit and landing, and the first reusable crewed space vehicle that made multiple flights into orbit.  

STS-51-L was the 25th mission of the NASA Space Shuttle program, the program to carry out routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo; as well as the final flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. Planned as the first Teacher in Space Project in addition to observing Halley's Comet for six days, the mission never achieved orbit; a structural failure during its ascent phase 73 seconds after launch from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B on January 28, 1986, killed all seven crew members —Commander Francis R. "Dick" Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik and Ronald E. McNair, and Payload Specialists Gregory B. Jarvis and S. Christa McAuliffe—and destroyed the orbiter.

Judith Arlene Resnik (1949 - 1986) was an American electrical engineer, software engineer, biomedical engineer, pilot and NASA astronaut who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Resnik was the fourth woman, the second American woman and the first Jewish woman of any nationality to fly in space, logging 145 hours in orbit. Recognized while still a child for her intellectual brilliance, Resnik was accepted at Carnegie Mellon University, after being one of only sixteen women in the history of the United States to have attained a perfect score on the SAT exam at the time. She went on to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon before attaining a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland.

At age 28, Resnik was selected by NASA as a mission specialist. She was part of NASA Astronaut Group 8, the first group to include women. While training on the astronaut program, she developed software and operating procedures for NASA missions. Her first space flight was the STS-41-D mission in August and September 1984, the twelfth Space Shuttle flight, and the maiden voyage of Discovery, where her duties included operating its robotic arm. Her second Shuttle mission was STS-51-L in January 1986 aboard Challenger. She died when it broke up, shortly after liftoff, and crashed into the ocean.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was a fatal accident on January 28, 1986, in the United States space program where the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard. It was the first fatal accident involving an American spacecraft in flight. The crew compartment and many other fragments from the shuttle were recovered from the ocean floor after a three-month search-and-recovery operation.  The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the Space Shuttle program. President Ronald Reagan created the Rogers Commission to investigate the accident. The commission criticized NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes that had contributed to the accident.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Aug 2022. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Gibraltar becomes a city !!

Many of us born and brought up in a City may not readily realise but those of us, who travel frequently can .. . there is a big divide between Cities like Madras, Bangalore, Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and other places like Karur, Erode, Villupuram, Nagercoil and the like !  .. .. there may not be a correct definition of a City !  -  a  city is a large human settlement. But most Cities are advanced with many workplaces and are densely populated. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, production of goods, and communication. Their density facilitates interaction between people, and in general offers better amenities.

Historically, city-dwellers have been a small proportion of humanity overall, but following two centuries of unprecedented and rapid urbanization, more than half of the world population now lives in cities, which has had profound consequences for global sustainability. Present-day cities usually form the core of larger metropolitan areas and urban areas—creating numerous commuters traveling towards city centres for employment, entertainment, and education. Other important traits of cities besides population include the capital status and relative continued occupation of the city. For example, country capitals such as Beijing, London, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, Paris, Rome, Athens, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Manila, and Washington, D.C. reflect the identity and apex of their respective nations !!

Miles away, outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was 'excellent' to see the recognition, describing it as a 'huge accolade' to Gibraltar's 'rich history and dynamism'.  Gibraltar, a rocky 2.6-square mile peninsular which boarders Spain and is just 10 miles from north Africa, became British territory in 1713 under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht which brought an end to the War of the Spanish Succession.   As a British overseas territory, it is home to a military garrison and has a naval base. But over the past few decades, the EU has sought to put pressure on London and Madrid to resolve its future status. In a referendum in 2002, Gibraltarians resoundingly rejected the idea of joint sovereignty.

Have heard of this phrase ‘ rock of Gibraltar’ a metaphor meaning the solidity and strength that a rock can provide.  The rock of Gibraltar  was known to the ancient Greeks as one of the two Pillars of Hercules. According to Greek mythology adopted by the Etruscans and Romans, when Hercules had to perform twelve labours, one of them (the tenth) was to fetch the Cattle of Geryon of the far West and bring them to Eurystheus; this marked the westward extent of his travels. A lost passage of Pindar quoted by Strabo was the earliest traceable reference in this context: "the pillars which Pindar calls the 'gates of Gades' when he asserts that they are the farthermost limits reached by Heracles”. 

The Rock of Gibraltar, also known as the Rock, is a monolithic limestone promontory located in the territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It is 426 m (1,398 ft) high. Most of the Rock's upper area is covered by a nature reserve, which is home to around 300 Barbary macaques. These macaques, as well as a labyrinthine network of tunnels, attract many tourists each year. Gibraltar is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.  

During the War of the Spanish Succession, Britain took control of Gibraltar in 1704 after Spain surrendered, and “the Rock” subsequently became a British colony and a symbol of British naval strength. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula,  bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 32,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.  In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During the Napoleonic Wars and World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, which is only 14.3 km (8.9 mi) wide at this naval choke point. It remains strategically important, with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait.  Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services and bunkering.

Gibraltar finally joined the official list of British cities on Monday, after 180 years in which its status, granted by Queen Victoria, had been overlooked due to an administrative error. The British overseas territory bid to become a city earlier this year as part of the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, but research in the National Archives established it had in fact been granted city status in 1842. The status of Gibraltar and how to police the border with Spain has been a point of contention since Britain's 2016 vote to leave the European Union. The peninsula was excluded from the exit deal reached between Britain and the EU. Informal arrangements are in place while the two sides negotiate over Gibraltar, which overwhelmingly backed remaining in the EU in the Brexit referendum.

Now, Gibraltar can officially call itself a city, 180 years after it was first granted the status by Queen Victoria. The Rock has now had its status reaffirmed - Boris Johnson described it as a "huge accolade" celebrating its "rich history and dynamism".  A Jubilee competition saw 39 places apply to become cities and eight of them, including Doncaster, Bangor, and Dunfermline, ultimately granted the status.

City status in UK  is often associated with having a cathedral, university, or large population, but there are no set rules for it being granted - it's awarded by the monarch on advice of ministers. It brings little in the way of material benefits, although it can often provide a boost to communities by putting them on the map and is normally a source of pride for residents. The government said Gibraltar had been omitted from official lists after being originally given the title by Queen Victoria, but it is not clear how this happened. An updated record of the 81 places named as cities has now been published. Gibraltar is one of only five outside the UK to be recognised. Hamilton in Bermuda, Jamestown in Saint Helena, and Douglas on the Isle of Man were already on the list, while Stanley in the Falklands Islands was among those named for the Jubilee this year.  It comes as ministers publish a fresh record of the 81 places that have so far achieved the special status, including the eight new designations awarded as part of a competition to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee earlier this year.

The Rock's 2006 constitution stipulates that there can be no transfer of sovereignty to Spain against the wishes of its voters.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Aug 2022


Pakistan badly affected by floods !

Indian fan felt very happy as India beat Pakistan in Asia Cup, first encounter in 2022.  Pakistan batting first were all out for 147 with Bhuvneshwar taking 26/4 and Hardik Pandy claiming 25/3 with short balls, well directed. Though India lost KL Rahul without scoring and suffered a mini-collapse, Kohli, Jadeja, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik all batted sensibly, taking India home.

It was an allround performance by Hardik Pandya – he bowled with zest and pace, pitching it short with steep bounce taking 3 wickets.  Then when the result was in Q,   hit three boundaries in the 19th over. In the final over,  Mohammad Nawaz brought it to six required off three, but Hardik sealed it with a flat six over long-on to end up with 33 off 17. Not a Cricket post .. those of us who watched the match, would have observed Paki Cricketers sporting a black arm band !

While Europe, China and some other regions of the world are experiencing a severe drought, Pakistan is facing one of the worst floods in its recent history. Reports say about 110 of the 150 districts in the country are affected by the flooding. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also confirmed  that over 1,000 people were confirmed dead in the floods so far. The flooding, the result of an unusually wet monsoon season in Pakistan this year, started in July, but has worsened over the last couple of weeks. The regions of Sindh and Balochistan, comprising the western half of Pakistan, have been badly hit, although Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too have been affected.

Sad to read that Millions of people have been affected by floods in Pakistan, hundreds have been killed, and the government has declared a national emergency. As of now, the monster monsoon in the neighbouring country has killed at least 1,033 people, including 348 children, and left 1,527 more injured, according to the recent figures released by Pak's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The heavy downpour is said to have affected more than 33 million people and continues to scourge parts of Pakistan, with at least 110 districts being hit by the floods. A total of 72 districts in the country have been declared calamity hit as it grapples with its worst natural disasters in over a decade, according to Geo News.A total of 949,858 houses have been ruined in overflows, out of which 287,412 have been entirely damaged while 662,446 homes have been partially destroyed. More than 700,000 livestock has also died in flood-related incidents, reported Hindustan Times.

In the old town of Sukkur in southern Sindh province, worn tents line the streets, as people seek shelter. Many sit with just beds - all their possessions lost to the water. The streets are flooded, and plastic waste has spewed out of sewage pipes. Large pools of dirty water have collected, slowing down any drainage. Residents are worried the standing water will bring waterborne diseases with it. It's been raining all week in Sindh province and there's been little respite for communities hoping to return home to see what can be salvaged.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has said the "magnitude of the calamity" is bigger than expected, after visiting flood-hit areas. Shehbaz Sharif was speaking from Sindh province - which has had nearly eight times its average August rainfall.   BBC reported that as they drove through Sindh, there were displaced people in every village. The full scale of the devastation in the province is yet to be fully understood - but the people described it as the worst disaster they've survived.

Floods are not uncommon in Pakistan, but people here said these rains were different - more than anything that's ever been seen. One local official called them "floods of biblical proportions". Near the city of Larkana, thousands of mud homes have sunk under water. For miles all that's visible is treetops. Where the water level is slightly lower, thatched roofs creep out from underneath the water.  In one village, the people are desperate for food. In another, many children have developed waterborne diseases. When a mobile truck pulled over, scores of people immediately ran towards it. Children carrying other children made their way to the long queue. The desperation was evident in every community. People ran towards car windows to ask for help - anything.

The Men in Green wore  a black arm band on their sleeves in their  clash vs India. That was  to show their solidarity for the Pakistani critizens back home. Babar Azam's side was paying respect to the lives lost, giving solidarity to the people back home amid the huge crisis. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Aug 2022. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Casuarina pole and its uses - what do you see ??

Casuarina is a genus of 17 tree species in the family Casuarinaceae, native to Australia, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, islands of the western Pacific Ocean, and eastern Africa.  


They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m (115 ft) tall. The slender, green to grey-green twigs bearing minute scale-leaves in whorls of 5–20. The apetalous flowers are produced in small catkin-like inflorescences. Most species are dioecious.  The fruit is a woody, oval structure superficially resembling a conifer cone, made up of numerous carpels, each containing a single seed with a small wing.  The generic name is derived from the Malay word for the cassowary, kasuari, alluding to the similarities between the bird's feathers and the plant's foliage. 

Flowers are unisexual, they are wind pollinated, and the multiple fruits are known as cones and seeds as samara.  The straight cylindrical stems find use in rural house building and as scaffolds in construction sites.  You may find them used in large numbers during construction used as shuttering material.  .. .. .. and almost all of us use them at our terrace for drying clothes !! 

Casuarina Prison is a male prison south of Perth.  It  is the main maximum-security prison for male prisoners in WA. Surrounded by a range of state-of-the-art security devices, the prison has a special unit for intensive, high-security supervision of offenders. 

சவுக்கு (தாவர வகைப்பாடு : Casuarina) கசுவரினேசியேக் குடும்பத்தைச் சேர்ந்த தாவர இனமாகும்.  இவை ஆஸ்திரேலியா, தெற்காசியா, மேற்கு பசிபிக்குத் தீவுகள் என்பவற்றைத் தாயகமாகக் கொண்டவை.   சவுக்கு செடியிலிருந்து 35 அடிவரை வளரக் கூடியது.  சவுக்கு விரைவாக வளரும் இயல்புடைய, பசுமை மாறா அழகிய தோற்றம் கொண்ட, ஊசியிலைகளைக் கொண்ட மரமாகும். கடற்கரைப்பகுதிகளில் நன்கு வளரும் இயல்பை உடையது. 

வளர்ந்த மரத்திலிருந்து சிறுசிறு பர்னிச்சர்கள், விவசாய கருவிகள் செய்யலாம். கட்டுமானப் பணிகளில் சாரம் அமைக்க தாங்கு கழிகளாகவும், சிறு வீடுகளின் கூரை மற்றும் கம்பங்களுக்கும் பயன்படுகிறது.

காகித உற்பத்தி தொழிற்சாலைகளில் மூலப்பொருளாக இதனைப் பயன்படுத்தலாம். இம்மரத்தை தோட்டங்களின் எல்லையில் காற்றுத் தடுப்பானாகவும் வளர்க்கலாம்.  நாம் வீடுகளின் மாடிகளில் கோடி கட்டி துணிகளை உலர சவுக்கு கட்டைகளை பயன்படுத்துகிறோம்.

நிற்க !!

This photo post was not intended to be one describing the uses of Casuarina poles.  Did you 0beserve the squirrel camouflaged in the first photo ? 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Afghans start Asia Cup with a bang !! - நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே !

AT Dubai International Cricket stadium in the first match of Asia Cup 2022, Afghans won the toss and put Lanka in.  SL is in deep trouble having lost 3 of its batsmen in 2 overs for just 5 runs !! 

நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே ! நல்லெழில் பொலி சீரணி

நலங்கள் யாவும் நிறை வான்மணி ___

ஞாலம் புகழ் வள வயல் நதி மலை மலர் ! நறுஞ்சோலை கொள் ____ 

Wonder what the above is ?    It has been just over a year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, again, and the effect on every aspect of life in the country has been drastic. A fledgling women's cricket scene has all but disappeared, the men's game is one of the few pastimes accepted - and seemingly closely followed - by the regime, which has clamped down on public entertainment in many forms. Cricket remains wildly popular among common fans in the country.


Asia Cup 2022 is not a great format – looks lopsided  - one half looks ordinary, India, Pakistan and Hongkong.  One win would take the team to next stage.  On the other - Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh can all best each other on their day and one of them have to say adios after playing just 2 games. This should have been round-robin tournament or just add 2 more teams and have 2 groups with 4 teams each."  

Anyway, the tournament is already on .. Afghan put Lankans into bat .. ..  Pathum Nissanka opened with - Balapuwaduge Kusal Gimhan Mendis.. .. off the 5th ball Fazalhaq Farooqi bowled a fullish length, swung the ball a little, Kushan missed it, hit on the back pad.  LBW appeal turned down – Afghans reviewed.  Ball tracking showed that Umpire was wrong – pitching on leg, hitting leg stump and Afghans have drawn first blood.   Off the next ball Farooqi struck again – Charith Asalanka out LBW for 0.  In the second over -  Naveen-ul-Haq tried sort of leg cutter, Nissanka tried wild swing – appeal, Umpire says Yes.  Lanka reviews and   even though UltraEdge shows almost no deviation, the umpire says out! The Sri Lankan camp is stunned.   

What you read in para 2 in Tamil is the National anthem of Sri Lanka.  Just before the start of the match, first Afghan’s and then Lankan anthem was played. 

"Sri Lanka Matha" ("Mother Sri Lanka")  is the national anthem of Sri Lanka. "Sri Lanka Matha" was composed by Ananda Samarakoon and was originally titled "Namo Namo Matha" ("Salute! Salute! Motherland"). "Sri Lanka Matha" was first performed at an official ceremony on 4 February 1949 at the Independence Memorial Hall in Torrington Square during the national day ceremony. The anthem was given full constitutional recognition in the 1978 Second Republican Constitution. There are differing accounts as to the origin of the "Sri Lanka Matha". The most widely held view is that Sri Lankan composer Ananda Samarakoon wrote the music and lyrics to the song, inspired/influenced by the Indian Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.  Some  suggest that Tagore wrote the anthem in full  while others hold the view that  Samarakoon wrote the lyrics, to Tagore’s music. Samarakoon had been a pupil of Tagore at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan.  After returning to Ceylon Samarakoon taught music at Mahinda College, Galle.  The Sri Lankan national anthem is available in an identical version in two languages, Sinhala and Tamil, both official languages of the country. It is just one of a number that are sung in more than one language. 

The "Afghan National Anthem"   was the national anthem of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from 2006 to 2021. The lyrics were written by Abdul Bari Jahani, and the music was composed by German-Afghan composer Babrak Wassa [de].  It was de jure replaced by "This Is the Home of the Brave" after the Taliban takeover in 2021.


'Tis the land of Afghanistan,

'Tis the pride of every Afghan.

'Tis the land of peace and the sword,

'Tis the cradle of its brave sons.


Indians fans are busy setting themselves up for the match against arch-rivals Pakistan tomorrow. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Friday, August 26, 2022

Cricket extravaganza ! - Asia Cup 2022 set to start !!

From tomorrow till 11th Sept 2022, there would be so much of Cricket .. Cricket at Sharjah – one’s memory somehow would certainly  recall that 6 !  

It was 19th Apr 1986 as we sat glued to TV – the  Austral-Asia Cup  between India and Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah.  Pak won by 1 wicket but that one single shot has been talked about over and again, so many times.  It started so well, a 100 run partnership.  Krishnamachari Srikkanth outscoring Sunil Gavaskar.  Cheeka scored 75 with 8 fours and 2 sixers; Gavaskar made 92 off 134 balls; next man Dilip Vengsarkar made a 50.  India made 245/7 – a good score those days.  

Paki innings was anchored by Javed Miandad.    16 were  required off last two, Kapil breaking the tradition  came on to bowl the 49th (his 10th) – controlled things giving away only 5 runs,  and after 49,  Pakistan were 235 for seven -  required 11 runs from six balls to win the cup. Chetan Sharma’s first ball  was pushed to the long-off by Miandad-  Kapil ensured just a single; Wasim Akram was run out trying to get the second run. Miandad struck a boundary off the second ball but could score only a single in the third ball. Wicket-keeper batsman Zulqarnain was clean bowled by Sharma for a duck which left Pakistan needing five runs from two deliveries. Last man Tauseef Ahmed scrambled a single off the fifth ball as Mohammad Azharuddin missed a run-out chance. Pakistan needed  four runs and India one final wicket from the last ball. Chetan Sharma's intended yorker became a full toss which was dispatched into crowds by Miandad for a six.  


From tomorrow starts ‘Asia Cup 2022’ -  the  Asian Cricket Council Asia Cup is a men's One Day International and Twenty20 International cricket tournament. It was established in 1983 when the Asian Cricket Council was founded as a measure to promote goodwill between Asian countries. It was originally scheduled to be held every two years. The Asia Cup is the only continental championship in cricket and the winning team becomes the champions of Asia. It alternates every 2-years between ODI and T20I formats.  

The first Asia cup was held in 1984 in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.   India won the Cup – there were only 3 matches.  India defeated Sri Lanka and Pakistan with Surinder Khanna being the hero; SriLanka defeated Pak in the other match.  Surinder Khanna had earlier  debuted in a World Cup against WI at Birmingham on 9.6.1979, did not make a single run; made two 50s at Sharjay in 1984 and played in all 10 one dayrs making total of 176.  India boycotted the 1986 tournament due to strained cricketing relations with Sri Lanka. Pakistan boycotted the 1990–91 tournament due to strained political relations with India and the 1993 tournament was cancelled for the same reason.  The ICC has ruled that all games played in the Asia Cup have official ODI status.  

Asia Cup 2022  tournament starts on August 27 with Sri Lanka taking on Afghanistan in Dubai, and the final is on September 11, also in Dubai. It's being played in the T20 format because it's good prep for the T20 World Cup later this year. Simple: six teams, divided into two groups:  

Group A: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong

Group B: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan  

Each team plays the other two in their group once and the top two qualify for the next round, the Super 4. There, each team plays every other team once, and the top two teams make it to the final.  

Thinking of another 6 off the penultimate ball, it was match 4 at Dambulla on 19th June 2010 – Asia Cup.   India needed three off two balls with tailenders batting.  Such a finish  seemed improbable when Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni put on an exhibition of clinical accumulation during their partnership of 98, which left only 89 to get off the last 15 overs with eight wickets in hand. They ran hard, pierced gaps, and muscled pressure-relieving boundaries whenever the asking-rate crept over six an over. India were in control even after Gambhir's dismissal but after Dhoni was out, match seemed to be Paki way. Harbhajan lofted Shoaib over long-on with impeccable timing, reducing the equation to 30 off 22.  Suresh Raina took on Shoaib in the 49th, pulling a short ball - this one didn't rise as much - for six to slash the equation to 10 off 11 balls. Shoaib, however, once again finished strongly, beating Harbhajan with consecutive bouncers off the final two deliveries.  With India needing seven runs off the final over, Raina took a single off the first ball, giving Harbhajan the strike. Raina tried to get it back immediately by stealing a bye but his desperate dive was beaten by Kamran Akmal's throw.  Praveen Kumar, India's No. 9, scored three off his first two balls and gave Harbhajan the strike for the penultimate delivery. Aamer ran in and pitched on a length, Harbhajan   swung hard, and began to raise his hands in triumph as the ball cleared the ropes.    

Statistically, it is India – having won the Asia Cup 7 times; Srilanka 5 and Pakistan twice.   

India have named VVS Laxman as the interim coach for Asia Cup in absence of Rahul Dravid, who tested positive for COVID-19. Laxman has assumed the role of head coach in the past, first during India's limited-over tour of Ireland and most recently against Zimbabwe. Laxman has travelled to UAE from Harare along with vice-captain KL Rahul, Deepak Hooda and Avesh Khan, all of whom were part of the ODI series against Zimbabwe and are in India's Asia Cup squad.  The Asia Cup will be the first major tournament for Rohit Sharma after being appointed India's permanent T20I captain in November last year.    

India are missing their pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who is recovering from injury. This gives Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan an opportunity to vie for spots  - Pak has lost Afridi.  After Shaheen Afridi, yet another Pakistan pacer has been ruled out as PCB confirmed today that   Mohammad Wasim has been ruled out of the Asia Cup due to a side strain that he picked up during the practice session on Wednesday. 

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Aug 2022.

Ostrich Policy - Emu bubble burst a decade ago !!

The promise was irresistible— big  advertisements in television channels and newspapers  offering freebies, tempting with ‘rag to riches’ stories.  Gullible  people started investing without knowing ‘what Emu was’ and the ‘nuances of Emu farming’.  They got carried by empty prattles of some Firms offering the chicks and buying the same back at a higher price after a few months !!  - they believed that emus would grow big, inturn making them richer, which was not to happen……….got carried by the offer of Emu Farms,  demanding  Rs 1.5 lakh as deposits and the promised return of  Rs 6,000 per month for three years and – as a freebie,  a gold coin.     In a short time, farmers in Rasipuram waited in long queues to deposit their savings and 100s of Emu farms sprung up in Salem and Erode.    The formula to success was simple – start Emu farm in around an acre, purchase up to 50 nos 3 month old chicks, provide good organic feed, drinking water  - in a few months, you will have well grown birds, breed to more and you have more money out of them…… dreams – chase dreams..

In a few years time, they realised it hard – it was only a bubble waiting to burst.  A decade ago -  a case was filed against  Tamil actors Sarathkumar and Sathyaraj, both brand ambassadors of Susi Emu Farms in Perundurai which had defaulted in settling the dues of depositors.  Immediately thereafter, a high Police Official went on media stating  - No case was registered against actors stating that though the  complainant mentioned about the advertisement films featuring the actors, the case was registered against 8 persons only, including  owner of the firm.  The high official queried - “If an actor acts in a cigarette company advertisement, how can a smoker complain that his health was affected due to the actor as he started smoking after seeing the film?” an act of a flightless bird vanishing in thin air !

Struthionidae is a family of flightless birds, containing the extant ostriches and their extinct relatives. The two extant species of ostrich are the common ostrich and Somali ostrich, both in the genus Struthio, which also contains several species known from Holocene fossils such as the Asian ostrich.  Sure most of us  would not recognize ‘genus Dromaius’ - the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus – the Emu.  It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the Ostrich.  .. ..and have you heard of ‘Ostrich Policy’ !

Ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and a long neck that protrudes from a round body. Males have bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown. Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 pounds (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation and an ostrich's eyes are 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal. The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot.   

Ostriches are omnivores,   they eat both vegetation and meat. Although they prefer plants — especially roots, seeds and leaves — they also eat locusts, lizards, snakes and rodents.  They also eat sand and pebbles, to help grind up their food inside their gizzard, which is a small pouch where food is crushed and ripped up before it reaches the stomach.  Ostriches don't need to drink water; they get all the water they need from the plants they eat. However, they do drink if they come across a watering hole. Male ostriches are called cocks or roosters, and females are called hens. A group of ostriches is called a flock. Flocks can consist of up to 100 birds. 

A man dressed as an eight foot tall ostrich with a towering bird neck strapped to his head was successfully pinned down with a fishing net after running amok in a Thailand zoo this week. The staff member was taking part in a training drill designed to ensure the animal was unable to escape its enclosure, should the real-world situation ever arise.

Although the ostrich is a flightless bird, it is a risk that the popular northern Thailand zoo – home to about 400 animal species – isn’t willing to take. The Chiang Mai Zoo director, revealed the “wild animal management plan” which simulated various emergency situations including an ostrich falling out of its nest. The animal care worker dressed as the native African bird “fell out” of its animal show area, prompting colleagues to pursue the man on foot, a series of photos uploaded by the zoo revealed. Eventually, the man was seen captured and escorted by three fellow staff members, including one man holding a giant fishing net. The zoo said the training provided preparation for “managing a real situation” and included measures to control animal emergencies and guidelines to follow in such situations.

The ostrich is the world’s largest bird,  and a frightened ostrich can run at up to 45mph (70km/h) and can deliver powerful kicks capable of killing lions and other large predators. It is unclear whether the zoo’s resident giant pandas, hippopotamus or penguin colony will be the subject of similar training drills.

"Ostrich policy" is a metaphoric expression referring to the tendency to ignore obvious matters and pretend they do not exist;  the expression derives from the supposed habit of ostriches to stick their head in the sand rather than face danger. But .. .. Ostriches do not actually bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Aug 2022. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

spectacles distributed at SYMA - remembering KE Raghavan

Today is Thursday – 25th August 2022. 

James Anderson claimed figures of 3 for 32 in his 100th home Test, while Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes added five wickets between them, as England seized the early initiative in the second Test at Manchester.   Tennis ace  Novak Djokovic has pulled out of US Open reportedly for  lack of Covid vaccination. 

On this day in 1258, George Mouzalon, the regent of the Empire of Nicaea, was assassinated as part of a conspiracy led by nobles under the future emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos.  On this day in 1609 - Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei demonstrated his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers. 

SYMA remembers this day for different reasons !!  Srinivas Youngmens Association (SYMA) has been doing service relentlessly since 1977.  Of our many services, Medical services and Education services are our prime activities. 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.  15 years have passed by  since that sad day [fateful Saturday 25.8.2007] the person liked by us all “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 His Holiness  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 year on Nation’s Independence day in our Eye camp conducted alongwith Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal – 120 people were screened ~ 13 persons were identified, were taken to Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal.  Cataract surgery was done free for them, later,  they were brought back to Triplicane. 22  persons were prescribed spectacles.  The eye-glasses were made by Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal and they were distributed in a function held at SYMA Medical Centre today @ 6.30 pm.

Today SYMA remembers Mr KE Raghavan, who left us this day in 2007.  The edifice of SYMA has been built brick by brick by the efforts of some 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 Mr TJ Ramani, SRP, Durai @ Seshadri, KV Rangarajan, Vasu Ramesh and others.   Here are some photos taken on the occasion. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Science of flying !!

In Greek mythology, Icarus  was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Icarus and Daedalus attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that Daedalus constructed from feathers and wax.  Daedalus warns Icarus first of complacency and then of hubris, instructing him to fly neither too low nor too high, lest the sea's dampness clog his wings or the sun's heat melt them. Icarus ignores Daedalus’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun, causing the wax in his wings to melt. He falls out of the sky, plunges into the sea, and drowns. The myth gave rise to the idiom "don't fly too close to the sun". 

Airplane wings are shaped to make air move faster over the top of the wing. When air moves faster, the pressure of the air decreases. So the pressure on the top of the wing is less than the pressure on the bottom of the wing. The difference in pressure creates a force on the wing that lifts the wing up into the air.


Living things without wings cannot fly !! - If one does not understand Science  but has will and determination – nothing is impossible, including flying !! is what this little squirrel taught this morning ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Mermaid, Undine - dugongs declared extinct !!!

 ஆழ் மனதில் பல ஆண்களுக்கு கனவுக்கன்னிகள் உண்டு .. .. கடற்கன்னி !  -  அதுவும் ஒருவிதமான கனவுக்கன்னியே !!  பண்டைய நாட்களில் ஆண்கள் மட்டுமே கப்பற்பயணங்கள் மேற்கொண்ட காலத்தில் - . மாதக்கணக்கில் பெண் வாடையே இல்லாமல் கடலில் பயணித்துக் கொண்டிருந்தவர்கள் மனதில் கடற்கன்னிகள் பற்றிய புனைவுகளும் அலையடித்துகொண்டிருந்தன. வெகு தூரத்தில், மங்கலாக ஏதோ ஒன்று! அழகான மனித உடலைப் போன்ற ஒரு தோற்றம்,   திமிங்கிலம் மாதிரி மீன் வடிவத்திலும் இல்லை, குழந்தைகளை மார்போடு அணைத்துக்கொண்டு உறங்கும் ஒரு பெண் போல-  அல்லது அழகான ஒரு பெண் அருகே நீச்சலடிப்பது போல -ஆனால்  அப்பெண் இடுப்புக்கு கீழே மீன் - அருகே செல்ல முயன்றால், அது கடலுக்குள் போய்விட்டது!  கடற்கன்னி (mermaid) என்பது மேற் பகுதி பெண்ணாகவும், கீழ்ப்பகுதி மீன் வாலும் கொண்ட ஓரு நீர்வாழ் உயிரினம் பற்றிய கற்பனை விவரிப்பு !! 

Undine is a 2020 German-French romantic fantasy drama film directed by Christian Petzold. It had its world premiere in Feb  2020 at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the competition section. Paula Beer won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.

People fantasise .. .. and there are many stories of mermaids emerging from   our collective unconscious, thousands of years old and found globally. Contrary to Disney’s cute film about bikini-clad, red-haired Ariel, these myths and tales are mostly quite grim. They have several tropes in common: the mermaid has often been cursed or can curse and lure others (sailors, princes, pirates) to their fate. Mermaids often sing and have a sweet voice or an enviable talent that provokes jealousy in other women.

Dugongs are cousins of manatees and share a similar plump appearance, but have a dolphin fluke-like tail. Unlike manatees, which use freshwater areas, the dugong is strictly a marine mammal. Commonly known as "sea cows," dugongs graze peacefully on sea grasses in shallow coastal waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.  The name  "dugong" was first adopted and popularized by the French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, as "dugon" in Histoire Naturelle (1765), after descriptions of the animal from the island of Leyte in the Philippines. Other common local names include "sea cow", "sea pig" and "sea camel”. 

In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including Europe, Asia, and Africa.Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drownings. In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same traditions), they can be benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans. The male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry. The Western concept of mermaids as beautiful, seductive singers may have been influenced by the Sirens of Greek mythology, which were originally half-birdlike, but came to be pictured as half-fishlike in the Christian era. Mermaids have been a popular subject of art and literature in recent centuries, such as in Hans Christian Andersen's literary fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" (1836).

Not a great news for mermaids and its lovers ! -  Researchers have declared a mammal related to the manatee - said to have inspired ancient tales of mermaids and sirens - extinct in China. Only three people surveyed from coastal communities in China reported seeing the dugong in the past five years.Known as the ocean's most gentle giant, the dugong's slow, relaxed behaviour is likely to have made it vulnerable to overfishing and shipping accidents.It still exists elsewhere in the world but is facing similar threats.

Prof Samuel Turvey, from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), who co-authored the research study, said: "The likely disappearance of the dugong in China is a devastating loss."Scientists at ZSL and the Chinese Academy of Science reviewed all historical data on where dugongs had previously been found in China.They found there had been no verified sightings by scientists since 2000.In addition, the researchers turned to citizen science to interview 788 community members living in those coastal regions identified, to determine when local people had last seen one. On average, residents reported not having seen a dugong for 23 years. Only three people had seen one in the past five years.

This has led the researchers to declare the dugong functionally extinct - meaning "it is no longer viable... to sustain itself", Heidi Ma, postdoctoral researcher at ZSL, told the BBC. The dugong is a unique character of the sea. Weighing in at almost half a tonne, it is the only vegetarian marine mammal. Similar in appearance and behaviour to the manatee, but distinguished by its whale-like tail, its gentle - seemingly benign - disposition has led some to believe that it inspired ancient seafaring tales of mermaids. Dugongs use sensitive bristles on the end of their snout to feed on seagrass.

Dugong – pic credit twitter @AndyVermaut

Sadly, its habitat close to shore in China left it vulnerable to hunters in the 20th Century who sought the animal for its skin, bones and meat. After a notable decline in population, dugongs were classified as a grade-one national key protected animal by the Chinese State Council in 1988.But researchers believe that the continuing destruction of its habitat - including a lack of seagrass beds for feed - has caused a "rapid population collapse". Prof Turvey said its extinction in China should act as a warning to other regions that house dugongs - including Australia and East Africa - calling it "a sobering reminder that extinctions can occur before effective conservation actions are developed".

The species is found in 37 other tropical regions in the world - in particular the shallow coastal waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans - but is classified as "vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) red list of threatened species. Countries are currently meeting in New York to sign a new UN marine treaty which would put 30% of the world's oceans in protected areas.

As stated in para 2 - Undine is a 2020 German-French romantic fantasy drama film directed by Christian Petzold. Undine Wibeau, a historian who lectures on the urban development of Berlin, is broken up with by a married man with whom she is having an affair, Johannes. She tells him that if he leaves her she will have to kill him, a reference to the myth of undine, and asks him to wait at a café for her while she delivers a lecture. After the lecture, she returns to the café to find he has left. While looking for him, a man who attended her lecture, Christoph, introduces himself to her, telling her that he is an industrial diver and asking her to have a coffee. Christoph accidentally breaks the aquarium in the café and the two are ejected. The two begin a long-distance relationship.

Undines  are a category of elemental beings associated with water, stemming from the alchemical writings of Paracelsus. Later writers developed the undine into a water nymph in its own right, and it continues to live in modern literature and art through such adaptations as Danish Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" and the Undine of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Aug 2022.