Saturday, March 28, 2009

Delete the repeated word?

ABM missile - Anti Ballistic Missile missile

AC current - Alternating Current current

ATM machine - Automated Teller Machine machine

BASIC code - Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code code

CAD design - Computer-Aided Design design

CD disks - Compact Disk disks

CNN news network - Cable News Network news network

EMS Service - Emergency Medical Service Service.

GMT time - Greenwich Mean Time time

HIV virus - Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus

ISBN number - Intenational Standard Book Number number

ISDN network - Integrated Services Digital Network network.

LCD display - Liquid-Crystal Display display

NATO organization - North Atlantic Treaty Organization organization

PIN number - Private Identification Number number

RAM memory - Random Access Memory memory

SAT test - Scholastic Aptitude Test test

Do you realize that we are repeating the last word like an echo. This needless repetition of an idea in a different word or phrase or sentence is known as pleonasm . It is also known as redundancy or tautology.

Ponder over expressions as

climb up

ice cold

completely blind

freezing cold

handwritten manuscript

invited guests

pre planning

refer back

This is due to the influence of foreign languages on English . It is used deliberately for emphasis or from lack of realization that the words are redundant.

Does it not look like the opposite of oxymoron.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Departure after death

What happens after you die?
Everyone mourns.
What happens to your body?

Some people would sigh and say "After I am dead why would I worry about what happens to me." A few are definite about the way they want to go. Unfortunately many are too late in deciding and have to leave it to the living. While complacent others have no choice but to abide by their religious norms.

The practice of disposing of bodies by burning is almost as old as the human race itself and has been practised by many civilizations.

In the Book of Genesis Abraham was ordered by God to prepare the funeral pyre for the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. By the time of the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations cremation had been the general method of disposing off the dead. (Courtesy BBC)

In India, Hinduism, cremate dead bodies in the open. Cremation is seen as the only way to return the body to the five elements of fire, water, earth, air and after cremation the ashes are poured into the sacred river Ganges or into the sea. This was detrimental to the environment. Till the intervention of Raja Ram Mohan Roy a Hindu wife was burnt alive with the dead body of her husband.

The Egyptians popularized the custom of Mummification, - drying of bodies to preserve them and to use stone coffins in the early Roman Empire long before the coming of Christianity.

Early Christians, influenced by the New Testament rejected cremation as a hangover from pagan times. They believed that the body of Christ was entombed according to Jewish rites. With the belief in the resurrection of the dead, cremation fell into disfavor. By the fifth century the practice had become almost completely obsolete.

The Christians also believed that you should present yourself before your Maker as an entire body rather than a pile of burnt bone fragments.

In the early 19th Century, some British officials in India campaigned for crematoria to be built to stop the Hindu custom of burning bodies in the open air.

Sir Henry Thompson, F.R.C.S., Surgeon to Queen Victoria, became the first and chief promoter of cremation in England.

The appalling conditions in many of the overcrowded burial grounds of Britain's major cities, together with the mounting costs of the pomp and ceremony of Victorian funerals, attracted people to a cheaper and cleaner way of disposal. It was becoming a necessary sanitary precaution against the propagation of disease among a population daily growing larger in density.

In some places, burials are impractical because the ground water is too high. Crypts in churches were used as tombs.

Burial is not always permanent. In some areas, burial grounds need to be re-used because of limited space. Once the dead decomposed to skeletons, the bones are removed; and placed in an ossuary.

Cremation would reduce the expense of funerals, spare mourners the necessity of standing exposed to the weather and the ashes, kept in urns, would be safe from vandalism. Sir Henry Thompson boldly advanced a further economic-technical argument that the ashes might be used as fertilizer!

On the other hand, cremation also poses problems.
Cremation could be used to destroy evidence of murder and mischief before a body could be properly examined. If buried, bodies could be exhumed on suspicion.

In 1878, the furnace was successfully tested on the body of a horse. It proved that an adult human body could be burnt to ashes in one to two hours with no smoke or effluvia escaping from the chimney.

In February, 1884, cremation was made legal in England.

Cremations in closed furnaces had already taken place in Germany.
The cremation movement spread to various parts of the British Empire, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Resistance to cremation continued till the mass slaughter of the First World War began to change people's social views.

In 1963 the Pope finally lifted the ban on Roman Catholics seeking cremation. Today only a few religious groups, including Muslims, Orthodox Jews and the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, still actively oppose cremation.

The church does not allow cremated remains to be scattered or kept at home. It is to be entombed.

In Sikhism cremation is the preferred method of disposal. Burial or submergence at sea is acceptable.
"Burial at sea" means the disposal of a corpse into the ocean, wrapped and tied with weights to make sure it sinks.

99.82% of all deceased Japanese are cremated, but a burial in a family grave is allowed.

Those with concerns about the effects of traditional burial or cremation on the environment choose to be buried in an all natural bio-degradable green burial shroud, a simple coffin made of cardboard or other easily-biodegradable material. They choose to be buried in a park or woodland, known as an eco - cemetery. A tree is planted over their grave as a contribution to the environment and a remembrance.

West Africans buried the dead in the floor of their houses.

Rarer forms of disposal of the dead include exposure of the body to the elements and to scavenger animals. The corpse is stripped off the flesh, leaving only the bones, which are then either buried or stored elsewhere, in ossuaries or tombs. This was done by some groups of Native American.
Tibetan Buddhists living in high altitudes also practice this ‘giving alms to the birds’ due to lack of fire wood and the ground being unfit for burial.

Zoroastrians in Bombay place bodies in "Towers of Silence", where vultures and other carrion eating birds then dispose of the corpses. The bones are collected in a central pit where assisted by lime they decompose.

Cannibalism is also practiced post-mortem in some countries.

With a growing population and increasing pressure on land space it looks likely that the days of the huge cemeteries and vaults will finally come to an end.

Cremation in a crematorium does make a lot of difference to the environment.

Do I sound macabre? Facts of life are hard to accept.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Smoke with Fire

A pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one end and a fool on the other.

That’s how a cigarette, a cigar, a pipe, a beedi or a hookah or whatever you smoke is defined.

Absolutely no arguments against the fact that smoking kills by millions and costs a nation billions in medical expenses and lost productivity.

Innocent Non-smokers working in smoking environments inhale the tobacco chemicals throughout the day and suffer from the same health problems that smoker’s experience.

France, Ireland, Italy and Japan have restricted smoking in public places.

Some breathe deeply while others fume as tough anti-smoking rules catch on.

Governments of various nations have sounded the red alert to drastically minimize the hazards of smoking to human life and the environment.

The formula is simple: a prices rise and fewer people will buy cigarettes. Smoking rate in adult smokers will be reduced and it will prevent initiation of regular smoking by children and young adults.

A big hike in the federal tax on cigarettes taking effect on April 1 may prompt 1 million U.S. smokers to quit.

India’s anti tobacco law came into effect on October 2, 2008. The rules mandate that all public places including offices, restaurants, public institutions, bars and work places to go 100 per cent smoke-free.

The ultimate aim is to reduce the demand for tobacco - a Herculean task indeed.

The rapidly growing array of electronic cigarettes are drawing the attention
of youngsters in China,USA,the Middle East and elsewhere .They are led to believe that e cigarettes are the modern innovation to correct smoking hazards.

The pressure from the tobacco industry working directly or indirectly through ministers and politicians, parallel advertising and, workers in tobacco industry prove to be major stumbling blocks. After all they make the vote bank.

Decline in cigarette sales could put thousands of people out of work mainly retail store clerks and cashiers, truck drivers who deliver cigarettes, warehouse workers, sales representatives and others. To make it worse this is recession time too.

Sigmund Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Any self-respecting cigar smoker, however, will tell you that a cigar is far less a cigar when the correct arts are not applied to the preparation of the cigar.

If you think cigarettes are simply tobacco leaves rolled in paper, you’re about 597 ingredients away from the truth. The tobacco industry has become master mixologists with the additives. Some ingredients are added for flavor. But the key purpose of using additives is to improve tobacco’s potency resulting in increased addictiveness. The additives used are shocking - no - horrendous

When a cigarette is burnt, the whole mess results in over 4,000 chemicals, including more than 40 known carcinogenic compounds and 400 other toxins.

The solution to the bitter-tasting cigarette was solved by adding taste-improving chemicals to the tobacco. A chemical similar to rocket fuel helps keep the tip of the cigarette burning at an extremely hot temperature. This allows the nicotine in tobacco to turn into a vapor so your lungs can absorb it more easily. That’s efficiency.

For a start, here’s the list of the most toxic ingredients used to make cigarettes tastier, and more quickly, effectively addictive:

Ammonia: Household cleaner.
Arsenic: Used in rat poisons.
Benzene: Used in making dyes, synthetic rubber.
Butane: Gas; used in lighter fluid.
Carbon monoxide: Poisonous gas.
Cadmium: Used in batteries.
Cyanide: Lethal poison.
DDT: A banned insecticide.
Ethyl Ferrate: Causes liver damage in animals.
Lead: Poisonous in high doses.
Formaldehyde: Used to preserve dead specimens.
Methoprene: Insecticide.
Maltitol: Sweetener for diabetics.
Napthalene: Ingredient in mothballs.
Methyl isocyanate: Its accidental release killed 2000 people in Bhopal, India, in 1984.

Now, that the facts are laid bare for a beginning it is up to each individual.

You may cut down on your cigarette.

But not in half.

images courtesy Google

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Multitasking Mania

I am a born-again uni tasker. And I do not intend to go back.

I have always been an ambitious kind of person who wants to be always busy, and on my feet. I took pride in the thought that I was the ultimate multi- tasker and never failed to sing of its glory to my friends . I felt elated whenever someone asked me “you did all that in a day?”

I was constantly switching tracks throughout the day.I became a multi-tasking junkie. I just couldn’t do one thing at a time.

Parents,especially a mother, is a notorious multi-tasker. She can do the dishes, wash a load of laundry and begin fixing dinner while talking to the kids, answering the phone and -----trying to take a deep breath

Multi-tasking has become a necessity in everyday life - shifting focus from one task to another in rapid succession. It gives the illusion that we're simultaneously tasking, but we're really not. It's like playing tennis with three balls.

I can no longer meet my friend A without feeling I am contesting with somebody for her time. While I am at dinner with A , B calls me on my cell phone and A takes the moment I am on phone to talk to her daughter, who is busy typing away on her lap top while listening to music from an ipod.

Catching up on the latest news while waiting for your tardy dentist ,is a healthy use of time. But to watch TV while you eat your dinner is not

I could cook, wash my cook ware, run the semi automatic washing machine and watch the movie on the TV. Wonder how? That is easy. When there is a song in the film or an Ad break,check out the washing machine and attend to your o cooking.In the short time two more plates can be washed. It is just a trick and a knack of perfect timing. A little smartness and alertness come in handy. It is definitely not suited for absent minded people. So in a way, it could be positive training for such people. I could keep juggling a lot of balls in the air without dropping them.

I plodded on since I felt that time was short and there was so much to do. I worked as if there wasn’t a tomorrow.

Despite my self congratulatory attitude, I somehow felt everything was not perfect. As I went about my various chores I realized that my sense of focus was short circuiting my attention span.The more I juggled tasks, the less efficient I became at completing the tasks thoroughly and on time. This is because multi-tasking dramatically reduces your concentration. It becomes impossible to focus your attention long enough when your brain is forced into nano-flipping mode. The pressure can sometimes be significant enough to cause physical discomforts such as headaches, stomachaches and sleeplessness. Compulsive multi-taskers get frenzied, frustrated, forgetful, fearful and frantic.

I gradually learnt it though the hard way that Multi-tasking is just an attitude. To be super busy is to be super efficient. - Extremely appealing. Besides, it is very important to say that we have no time to spare. People don’t multitask with a desire for efficiency. It is a mere habit. One easily gets hooked to it and becomes a slave to the addiction. It is a craziness starting from within .It is fun in the beginning and kicks a lot of adrenaline into us.

I realized that multi-tasking is the badge of honor of the techno-age. The term "multi-tasking" was created for computers, not humans, enabling its users to surf the Web, print reports, and download the latest CD all at the same time. This is brilliant for my Dell, but not so great for my declining ability to focus. As I started my multi-tasking fast, sticking on rigidly to one schedule at a time was extremely difficult. Initially I could not fit into the groove. I swore to be a solo tasker - to escape the reign of terror in an already chaotic world and to find a little oasis of sanity and peace.

Eventually I was able to break my multi-tasking habit.
( I am tempted occasionally though)
Simplify Your Life: Does multi-tasking really work?