Friday, December 31, 2010


More Toy Train

Oh, Happy New Year!
More toy train
Pannable version below the fold.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pakistan and Afghanistan

Anyone who buys into the Pakistani line "America abandoned us and left us holding the baby" with regard to Afghanistan, should read this Ejaz Haider essay.

ProPublica on ISI-LeT ties

Read it here:

Pakistan's powerful intelligence service has been accused for years of playing a "double game:" acting as a front-line U.S. ally in the fight against terror while supporting selected terrorist groups which serve Pakistani interests.

Now, for the first time, there is a detailed inside account of how that game is played. The U.S. investigation of the 2008 Mumbai attacks [1] has built a strong case that officers in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) collaborated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group in the plot that killed 166 people, six of them Americans. U.S. and Indian investigators say their understanding of the ISI-Lashkar alliance is drawn from the confessions of David Coleman Headley, an American convicted of participating in the Mumbai plot, as well as documents, phone records and electronic eavesdropping.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Toy train exhibit - test

Try panning around (drag the photo below)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Humbug Assembly Line

Paul Krugman points out:
When discussing the alleged huge expansion of government under Mr. Obama, I’ve repeatedly found that people just won’t believe me when I try to point out that it never happened. They assume that I’m lying, or somehow cherry-picking the data. After all, they’ve heard over and over again about that surge in government spending and employment, and they don’t realize that everything they’ve heard was a special delivery from the Humbug Express.
The Humbug Express, as Krugman terms it, turned a temporary increase in government employment because of the Census, into a huge increase in government, when the government payrolls are actually shrinking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Light Peak and USB 3.0

Light Peak is the name of the new Intel optical interconnect for computers and consumer devices.  Using thin optical cable, Light Peak will begin at a speed of 10 Gbps, and move to 100 Gbps.   In comparison, the newly emerging USB 3.0 reaches a theoretical maximum of 3.2 Gbps.

Out of the gates, USB 3.0 has the advantage of backward compatability of a huge installed base.  But it is also a technology that has passed the middle age of its lifecycle. 

There is considerable speculation that Apple will bypass USB 3.0 in favor of Light Peak (e.g., here and  here).

I imagine that along with a copper pair for power, and the long cable lengths allowed by Light Peak, we may be closer to my longstanding wish for a daisy chain of my audio, video and computer components, replacing the current dense mess of cables.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Government Overreach

The government wants to intrude itself everywhere.
The US of A.

Terrorism has been a boon for the security state.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Seditious Eyes

In this context, seditious must mean "causing incitement to public disorder".  See below for an example.

Women unveiling their eyes in public in Saudi Arabia will be forced to fully cover up their faces if their eyes are found to be seditious, according to the Gulf Kingdom’s most feared Islamic law-enforcement group.
“The Commission members have orders to tell any women in public to cover up her face if they find that her eyes are seditious,” the paper said, quoting Sheikh Mutlaq Al Nabit, a Commission spokesman in Hael.
Nabit did not explain how the Commission members determine that a woman’s eyes are seditious.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Outdoors shot. Heavy crop - about 1/18th of the whole frame.  Apart from the crop and regular Lightroom no other processing.  Shows for the web what overkill a 5D2 is. Or from another point of view, how convenient!  From the EXIF, this was a 200mm, f/4.0, ISO 800, 1/1600 second shot, with the subject 23.8 meters away.  One can only revel in the quality of the glass.  Yes, the bright side of the panda's face is slightly blown.


Saturday, December 18, 2010


Indoors, through glass. National Zoo, DC.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red Panda

Red Panda.
Red Panda

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


From here:
New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) A Pakistani patient, owned up as a "suicide" attacker and an operative of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) by his country's army, was indeed treated in Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where he died three years ago, enquiries by IANS have revealed.

According to hospital sources, a Pakistani patient named Zulfiqar Ahmed was admitted in the multi-speciality private medical facility in November 2007.

"He died of renal failure," an official at the hospital told IANS, requesting anonymity because "our legal section is digging deeper into the case before coming on record".

The sources said that the hospital was looking into the records to find more about the patient, who according to the Pakistan Army website was on a "suicide attack" operation.

"It is a three-year-old record and it will take time to examine," another official said, as the hospital administration refused to say another more.

The Pakistani Army's website - - claimed that an ISI operative who was on a "suicide attack" operation died in a New Delhi hospital Nov 16, 2007.

The posting was in the "Shuhada's (martyrs') corner" of the website, which had previously revealed the list of Pakistan's dead in the 1999 Kargil operation.

It named the operative as Zulfiqar Ahmed, his army number as 1726016 and his rank as naik.

The operative, the website claims, died of kidney failure and acute respiratory infection at New Delhi's Ganga Ram Hospital.

The website however doesn't mention where the operation was to be conducted as there was no suicide attack in Delhi or in nearby areas in or around November 2007.

The major terror attack in India before November 2007 were the Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat bombings in Hyderabad Aug 25 that year, in which 42 people were killed.

The martyr's section lists 25 ISI operatives, with varying causes of death. Besides Ahmed, one more ISI agent who died in India in May 1973 is identified as Lance Naik Abdul Ghani.

Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh, reacting to the postings, said it has exposed the Pakistan Army's "intentions".

"I have nothing to say on what they (the Pakistan Army) have put up on its website. But if it has, then it clearly show what their intentions and ways are and what their next move will be," Singh told reporters here when asked about the Pakistan Army's website posting.

The army chief also said that India needed to be "more alert".

"All I can say is we have to be more alert and only then we can protect the people and our troops," he said.

Scimitar-horned Oryx

National Zoo, Washington DC.

On this chilly December morning, the oryx was probably maximizing his exposure to the sun.  So it was not in a particularly favorable position for a shot.  The full frame is below - the oryx occupies about 5% of the frame even at 200mm.

Scimitar-horned Oryx

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eying with malicious intent...

National Zoo, Washington DC. Heavy crop from the original photo.
This tiger was actually quite entertaining.
Eying with malicious intent...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rangoli 2010

I did not participate in the 2010 Diwali Rangoli, even in planning or design.  Even so, here it is, courtesy my niece N.
Rangoli 2010

Previous Diwalis: here or here.

Yielding to the bullies results in this

I have the (British) India Legislature debates from 1927 that introduced section 295A of the Indian Criminal Code, and will publish them some time.  This law is still on the books in India and in Pakistan.  In Pakistan it has been further enhanced; but if you do a search on google, you'll find 295A is misused in India.  Well, how can it not be misused, it is a horrible law, as the dissenters in that debate pointed out.  The wording of the law is:
"Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 2[citizens of India], 3[by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both.]"
The reason for the introduction of this law was the Rajpal case or (Rangila Rasul case).  Rajpal was the publisher, (not the author) of a pamphlet in an ongoing war of pamphlets between Hindus and Muslims  in the Punjab of the 1920s, in which they attacked each other and also other sects within their own camps.   This particular pamphlet (the title would roughly translate to "Playboy Prophet"), which made many sarcastic comments about the Prophet of Islam  particularly raised the ire of the Muslims, and there was the threat of not just Punjab-wide but supposedly nationwide violence. {Aside, it is funny, isn't it, that to a certain mentality, India is not and never was a nation except when it is time to protest?}

Well, Rajpal was tried under existing law for offending religious sentiment {section 153A of Indian Penal Code}, but the Punjab High Court under Justice Dilip Singh acquitted him. { Later the government tried Rajpal again, and obtained a conviction, but Rajpal was murdered by a Muslim, Ilim Din.  Ilim Din was convicted of the murder and executed - his funeral procession is said to have been the largest procession seen in Lahore till then, and for many years thence.  His anniversary of "martyrdom" is still marked in Pakistan.}    The inadequacy of the existing law to convict Rajpal was the motivation to introduce 295A.

The reasoning, from the British government point of view, was that if some religious group threatens violence because its feeling had been "hurt", the government could step in and prosecute the person(s) who committed the hurt.   The dissenters pointed out any number of instances where the insulted party was a minority who never threatened violence and therefore never received such consideration from the government.

In effect, the government bowed to the bullies.  If you are capable of widespread violence, your sentiments have to be "respected", otherwise not.

Incidentally, Rajpal is said to have apologized:
Mr Gaya Prasad Singh (non-Muhammadan member representing Muzaffarpur and Champaran), on Sept 19, 1927, read in the (British Indian) Legislative Assembly
“Sir, I should also like to refer to the statement which was made by Rajpal when he came to know that the feelings of our Muhammadan friends had been greatly outraged by his pamphlet. This is what he said:
“If any words of mine can soothe the feelings of my Moslem brethren, I assure them that I respect their sentiments no less than I do mine. I have no idea of bringing out another edition of Rangila Rasul, even though the law does not stand in the way of my doing so. In fact I stopped selling it as soon as I was told that some Moslems felt offended by its publication. This was done before any action was taken or even contemplated by the Government.”

I should add that the nationalists in the assembly supported the law because they wanted to avoid any Hindu-Muslim friction.  There was some who opposed the law on the grounds that religion did not need such defense, and such a law was an abridgement of the freedom of speech.

Well, in Pakistan, the blasphemy law is the full Islamic expression of section 295A.  And now it has come to this (AFP link, might be temporary)

KARACHI — A doctor has been arrested for insulting the Prophet Mohammed in Pakistan, police said on Sunday, in a second high profile case throwing the spotlight on the country's controversial anti-blasphemy laws.

Naushad Valiyani was detained on Friday following a complaint by a medical representative who visited the doctor in the city of Hyderabad.

"The arrest was made after the complainant told the police that Valiyani threw his business card, which had his full name, Muhammad Faizan, in a dustbin during a visit to his clinic," regional police chief Mushtaq Shah told AFP.

"Faizan accused Valiyani of committing blasphemy and asked police to register a case against the doctor."

Shah said the issue had been resolved after Valiyani, a member of Pakistan's Ismaili community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, apologised but local religious leaders intervened and pressed for action.
"Valiyani had assured Faizan that he did not mean to insult the Prophet Mohammed by throwing the visiting card in the dustbin," Shah said, adding that the police had registered a case under the Blasphemy Act.
PS:  The Rajpal pamphlet is available on the Internet.  In my opinion, it is available precisely because Rajpal was murdered, and because the whole thing became such a big issue.  Otherwise, it would have vanished like most of the other pamphlets from that war of words in the 1920s. The action of the "prosecute blasphemy" crowd have made this trash immortal.

MJ Akbar on Wikileaks

M.J Akbar:
PS: I just can't understand why Americans are persecuting Wikileaks' Assange; they should give him a hero's medal. Wikileaks prove what some of us suspected but no one could confirm - that American diplomats are clear, concise, cogent and informed. Only the stupid and the prejudiced accuse them of being dumb. They know precisely what is going on in the world even if their government's policy is built within a maze of spiderwebs hung across Chinese walls. Their analysis of Pakistan is perfect; it has an unintelligent government run by the intelligence service. Why on earth don't they do anything about a nation which is going to obliterate itself and us as well? One of these days I must leak our tapes of American diplomats in Delhi to the Wall Street Journal.

The Well Groomed Gorilla

There was a certain elegance to the creature. National Zoo, Washington DC. Shot through glass, so post-processing was necessary to increase the contrast.

The Well Groomed Gorilla

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Turnabout is Fair Play

According to one of the eminent Muslim political leaders of the 20th century, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan, the nation of Pakistan with 75% Muslims and 25% Hindus {the proportion would have been something like this in a non-"motheaten" Pakistan} could live as a united secular democratic nation where "Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State".  

However, according to Jinnah, a nation of 75% of Hindus and 25% of Muslims (as would have been an undivided India) could not be such a nation.  This was the foundational argument for Pakistan.

Jinnah was essentially saying that Hindus are not suited for secular democracy.  Leftist and Pakistani liberal historians nevertheless try to present Jinnah as secular minded and unbigoted.  But today, if we make statements like "Arabs are not suited for democracy" or "Islam is not suited for democracy" we would be excoriated for it, especially by Leftists and by Pakistani liberals.

Why the double-standard?


At the National Zoo, Washington DC. Artifacts are because it was shot through a fence. Posted here for entertainment value.

Zebras at the National Zoo

Tolerance and Mutual Respect

Should we respect tolerance?  Or should we tolerate mutual respect?  Sorry.

Rajiv Malhotra argues that it is time to no longer tolerate tolerance and instead to move up to mutual respect.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pakistan has fun with Wikileaks

The Guardian, UK

They read like the most extraordinary revelations. Citing the WikiLeaks cables, major Pakistani newspapers this morning carried stories that purported to detail eye-popping American assessments of India's military and civilian leaders.

According to the reports, US diplomats described senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal; they said India's government is secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists; and they claimed Indian spies are covertly supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal belt and Balochistan.

"Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Waziristan, Balochistan," read the front-page story in the News; an almost identical story appeared in the Urdu-language Jang, Pakistan's bestselling daily.

If accurate, the disclosures would confirm the worst fears of Pakistani nationalist hawks and threaten relations between Washington and New Delhi. But they are not accurate.

An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by the Guardian by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations. It suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.

The controversial claims, published in four Pakistani national papers, were credited to the Online Agency, an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-army stories in the past. No journalist is bylined.
Update: Pakistani newspapers apologize.   


Even the Congressional Research Service finds nothing illegal or prosecutable with regards to what Wikileaks is doing - the release of secret diplomatic cables to news organizations.

One does not have to admire or even agree with what Wikileaks is doing to protest the massive government pressure on corporations and businesses to refuse to do business with Wikileaks, when there is nothing illegal in what Wikileaks is doing. And shame on these corporations for yielding to government pressure.

We shall remember with disfavor Visa, MasterCard, Paypal, Amazon, and others. They put to the lie the idea that corporate capitalism is a bastion of freedom.

And it is time to tell our government that it is overreaching.


A debate is going in America about the relationship between Yoga and Hinduism.  A NYT article has this to say:
“One of the things that most Christians and most people don’t get is that yoga is not a religion,” Ms. Russell said.
“It does not belong to Hinduism any more than it belongs to Christianity,” she said, adding that it “transcends religion.”
a.  This "transcending of religion" is one of the goals of Hinduism, as I understand it.
b.  Very conveniently Ms. Russell takes out the universals from Hinduism, and defines the parochial remnants as "Hinduism". By what right or authority? Just because she wants to do Yoga?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Long History of Air Power in the NWFP

Where the US is now using drones ---

(British India) Legislative Assembly Debates
August 31, 1927.
1927 Volume IV, pages 3694-95


654. *Mr Gaya Prasad Singh : (a) Will Government kindly give the causes and an account of the Mohmand disturbances on the Frontier in June last, and the part played by the land force and the Royal Air Force in suppressing them?

(b) What was the number of casualties on both sides?

 Sir Denys Bray:  The origins of the Mohmand disturbance are obscure.  But they appear to be traceable to a concerted aggressive movement against the Maliks of certain loyal sections under the sustained agitation of a well-known Mullah.  Their unexpected resistance brought a rival Mullah upon the scene, whose fanatical preaching succeeded in assembling a tribal lashkar, twelve to fifteen hundred strong.  It crossed the administrative border on the night of June 5th and attacked the blockhouse line, despite clear warnings from us that any attack on the district would be at once met by bombing from air.

Orders were accordingly given to the Royal Air Force to disperse the lashkar; and within 36 hours they did so.  This striking success was achieved with surprisingly few casualties.   The lashkar lost, it is believed, 15 killed and 16 severely wounded.  The Royal Air Force had no casualties at all.  Ground troops were held in readiness at Shabkadar and Shankargarh, but owing to the rapid dispersal of the enemy it was not found necessary to bring them into action.

Diwan Chaman Lall: Is it the policy of the Government of India that they should use aeroplanes to bomb men who are not in a position to resist with equal force the forces of the British Government?

Sir Denys Bray: Certainly, Sir, if they attack the British Government.

Diwan Chaman Lall: May I ask whether it is a civilized method to employ against these unarmed people?

Sir Denys Bray: My Honourable friend is under a complete misapprehension if he thinks a tribal lashkar is unarmed.  And I would point out at any rate in this particular case that the operations were amazingly humane.  The casualties, as I said, were amazingly few.  I have never known myself a tribal lashkar of this size attacking British India and being dispersed with so few casualties on their part.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Madhya Pradesh Tourism ad

In Hindi.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Luckovich on Obama


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

M.J. Akbar

Since M.J. Akbar is an always-interesting and insightful writer on the Indian state of affairs, I've included him in the "My Blog List" on the left. Enjoy!