Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The English Plurals -by George Carlin

The English Plural
according to ....

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes;
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese;
(there's more!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Opinion: How Organized Religion causes Oppressive Regimes (and the other way around!)

Republishing (with some polishing) a comment to a question someone posted on FB:

Is there a correlation between religion being divine and theocracies being oppressive regimes?

My reply:
A religious tendency to trust and depend on in a higher authority for answers to the puzzling questions of life (often with unquestionable faith getting diverted to religious institutions that are made of fallible and corruptible men and not Gods)...

...translates into implicit trust without expectation of accountability in the governing authority who claim to know what's best for everyone. Take the cyclical and often disastrous assumption that whatever the ruling authority has done in any case is assumed to be good only because they are the ruling authority and we assume that they will only do what is best for their people. The dangerous part in this assumption is that the facts on the ground and data are completely ignored and we're simply floating on assumptions.

This is why scientific thinking and advancement ,which takes away the power of religious institutions by finding the answers to those puzzling questions through repeatable experimentation and proof and finding solutions to them as well, empowering the common man in the process, (example: using internet any human can now reach out his thoughts to millions of people at zero expense or communicate with anyone in the world with a tiny object in his hand : feats that would be considered as divine 100 years ago) ...

...has often also ended up diluting the powers of oppressive regimes (like what the Internet and mobiles did to Egypt and Tunisia).

 I would definitely say there is a strong corelation between the scientific method and people's empowerment.

Belgian cyclist on a world cycling and documentary tour at my place!

While on my way back from school day before yesterday, I came across a strange cyclist in the midst of the traffic. I can't really describe in words so attaching a picture.

So, he's Henri Vivegnis from Belgium. When I drew up alongside him and enquired about his bike, he showed me an address "Marathon Bahavan" - it was right around the corner and I guided him to the place.

And then being the nosy Gujju I am, I found out everything about him. He's from Belgium, and is on a world tour by cycle, attending Film Festivals. 

And he's attending this for the next 3 days in Pune:

He has cycled from Mumbai to Pune and after this he's going to cycle to Delhi.

I offered to accommodate him in case he doesn't have any place to go, and so he's at my place right now. Grateful to my Didi for being a gracious host coz I've been gone out most of the time over the last 2 days.

So, reaching out to all the cycling enthusiasts and those who want to show some hospitality : Please reach out! My situation at home isn't the very best right now and we have problems in arranging for proper food for his palate, and are having to depend on outside food. If someone can accommodate him or even just spend time with him it would be awesome! The film festival is from 9am to 7pm everyday and he's free outside those hours.

Also, HELP NEEDED for figuring out a way for our guest to cycle all the way from Pune to Delhi without getting killed! Has anyone out there done a similar car/bike ride??

At least let's meet up to check out the cool bike!!

Nikhil Sheth

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Do our children know how to count.... their blessings?
Can they read... between the lines?
Can they comprehend... the feelings of others?
Can they find the solutions to... the problems that haven't been solved yet?
Can they draw... a better future for everybody?
Can they question... the status quo?
Can they identify... the faults in the conventional methods?
Can they understand... the circumstances that determined a person's actions?
Can they predict... the consequences of their actions, and more importantly, of their inaction?
Can they determine... the true intentions behind the spoken ones?
Can they imagine... being in the other person's shoes?
Can they find... the facts and not just make assumptions?
Can they figure out... what will be the right thing to do?

Can our adults do all of the above?
Value education... educate values.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools

Dear Friends,

A veteran wikipedian in Pune, Ashwin Baindur, has started an ambitious project to compile a free offline digital encyclopedia for spreading to schools and homes all over India. This project will source the articles from wikipedia but will be child-friendly and available to use without any internet connection, and can run on even the slowest "dabba" PCs commonly seen in our government and low-income schools. More details in the forwarded email below.

Once compiled, spreading it will be as easy as sharing movies with your buddies - plug in a pen drive and Ctrl+C (copy), Ctrl+V (paste). If taken up passionately and spread virally, we can bridge the digital divide and bring a huge trove of knowledge to kids and teachers all over the nation who have never seen anything like it before.

.. read what is written there and start chipping in with article requests. This project is still in the compiling stage and needs your help. You need to think aloud and contribute the names of any and every India-specific thing that you can think of : places, people, festivals, culture, wildlife - whatever you think is a good general knowledge source that ought to be accessible to every student in India. You don't need to have any technical expertise to help here - just type in and you're done. There's space for over 3000 articles here, so be generous - jo bheje mein aaya daal do, editing koi aur lega.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Emmanuel's Visit

Shantabai Ladkat English Medium School, Nanapeth Pune had a unique visitor in November 2011. Emmanuel Engelhart from Switzerland is the creator of a program called "Kiwix" which runs "Wikipedia for Schools", a digital encyclopedia that runs on any computer, has over 6000 articles equal to 20 large encyclopedias. And it is completely free of charge, made to spread to schools for the benefit of teachers and students. 

Our school was one of the first in India to install and use this wealth of knowledge in our computer lab. So Emmanuel came to Pune specially to meet us and spent two full days interacting with all the students and the teachers, seeing his program in action in our lab and he even taught us a little French. We held a special ceremony for him to convey our gratitude for his noble and selfless work in the field of education that can empower millions of students all over the nation.

Gift Economy

Would you like to show your appreciation for this work through a small contribution?

(PS: there's no ads or revenue sources of any kind on this blog)

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