Apr 2008 BLOG

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2008-04-09 Big brother is reaching us

Went yesterday to a talk on legal matters on the case filed by 28 JPL employees against Caltech which, bowing to directive 12 (HSPD 12) of the Bush administration wants to background investigate all JPL employees including the 97% who do not work in sensitive areas. If the checks are not agreed to, the employees will be deemed to have wilfully resigned. Prof. Mary Keneddy rightly pointed out how large institutions feel they are above everything. Money is being taken out of science to produce badges.

Classic science is like a search along a fine grid (though not necessarily blind) and always looking for the best answer. The way science is progressing is more like evolution though. All you look for is an answer that will stump your neighbour. You care more about getting funding than what you produce. If you do not grab the funding, your neighbour will, and still do the same bad job. Commercialism garners people into using second or even n-th best technologies and making the entire world follow suit leaving the n-1 technologies for the future. Trying to protect ourselves from unclear and possibly self-created danger.

The era of real IDs is almost upon us. It is not meaningful to say 'I am clean, what do I need to be afraid of?', for one does not know how the information will be used. It is time not to be afraid, but very scared.

2008-04-04 Palomar

Am at Palomar again. Lovely as usual. Getting a full night tonight though missed over half yesterday.

Due to the recent fires there is controlled burning happening. That means larger open areas. But there still are enough birds. Also saw some painted lady butterflies, though not very numerous. Many hills on the way were all yellow, some drying out. Halfway up the mountain some burn areas had mustard and lupines. Looked really pretty on the vast black slopes. Reminded me of Yellowstone

It was cold in the afternoon. Reigning in my instinct of roaming, sat down a bit and did some writing. Felt good. Starting to finish up now (for the night).

2008-04-02 Common man personified

Attended a personification of R K Laxman's common man presented by Prof. Ajit Kelkar. In about an hour he very innovatively walked us through the political history of India. Walked us is not the correct way to put it though. He paced, almost danced on occasion, and blurted out all the silent sentiments the common man had been holding back. While the gesticulations and the cartoons certainly made us smile and laugh, the frame that Prof. Kelkar managed to provide for the program (and the writer duo Joglekars of course) made most of us reflect silently on the role that we as a common man should be playing. Like R K Laxman's common man we were indeed rather dumbfounded for a while.

Then of course people clapped and congratulated him on the wonderful performance and slowly left feeling the good feeling of having witnessed a good program. Hopefully at least half of us will continue to feel the responsibility of the common man. To vote, and to be concerned, and to voice one's opinions ...

If you get a chance, do watch the program.


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