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2008 July 6 [Sunday]

Some food for thought

Did you know that :

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... and YES science now shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, Avocado's and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? .... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well as help overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, Oranges, and most Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes

Sometimes it takes science quite a while to learn what Nature knew from the beginning.

2008 January 14 [Monday]

makar shankranti

Had a very beautiful, yet dangerous visitor who took an hour getting chased out. Last week(end) was tough and tiring, partly because i exerted myself when i felt a l'il better resulting in a relapse. Random bytes like "it can be typhoid, 4 of my friends got it last week" makes me contemplate another round of tests tomorrow, which i dont look forward to at the moment :(

Currently we have 2 DD's and 2 more in the queue and bubulle and sam had attended foss.in as part of Project days so i had suggested that next time Debian can send female DD's if any are interested. That would give the DW project the visibility it deserves. The "why women....." advocacy talks has been overdone over the years so why not showcase DW's remarkable success rate : 10 female DD's at various stages in the developer queue, over the years. I managed to chew helix's and marga's ears about technical talks ... interested :) if the issue of travel sponsorship could be worked out.

ATM i dont feel like crawling through the full mailbox or reading anything at all and its Sankranti but i dont feel the energy at all. My pet peeve is the tendency of DR's (medics) handing out high doses/strong medication without bothering to check for past history/allergies and such-like. Lucre of endless tests and time may be a factor but i am not amused at their careless attitude.

Happy Makar Shankranti/Pongal !!

2007 December 29 [Saturday]


Its almost 3 years that i attended the first Vipassana meditation course at Igatpuri. I used to maintain a static page but am too lazy to rework that now. Anyway we are not supposed to recount our 10-day meditation experience's so as to not colour other people's (yet-to-happen) experience. But i guess i can talk about other things besides that, especially the part about how not to be a nuisance to others or flaunt your wealth (even the lack of it).

Having practiced meditation (off and on) since childhood this was a completely different experience. Rather I could say its very tough and unlike the regular meditation techniques (like chanting, or the yogic breathing exercises). Its tougher because for 10 days you cannot talk, no music (cant even sing or hum, so really very tough), no cellphone (easy), no tv (easy), no computer /internet (tough) or newspaper (tough). There is a code of discipline to be followed which can be summarised as :

Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone.
Take no notice of distractions caused by others.


The former was not difficult for me but I was tested on the latter by my dorm-mate. Recounting, on the registration day the volunteer alloting rooms had alloted me a single room (usually given to foreigners and some Indians (dont ask why, you wont like to hear it)) but i wanted the tougher experience and opted for the common dorm. Dorms are a row of rooms each shared by 2 women (men? -i dunno, we are not allowed to go there so only men can tell).

The person I shared the room with was from an affluent family (father was a diamond merchant) and she made sure that all around her (in this case, me) were informed about this via her actions. Where everyone (and i mean everyone, literally) had one piece of luggage + a handbaggage, she came with a porter carrying 2 huge suitcases (the kind we Indians carry when going to work/study/marry in USA ;-)) and a carton (which i later learnt contained Bisleri water, snacks, including chocolates for the entire 11 days). And here i thought we were supposed to follow some discipline.

At this point i must mention that while the code exists, you as an individual are expected to discipline yourself. There is no one to stand over to watch you or police your actions. We spoke to each other on the first day and i had no inkling of what was to follow in the next few days. As much as i tried to ignore her afterwards, her actions were annoying to say the least partly because we shared a room. I still meet people like her in my daily life and maybe they just dont realise how irritating and annoying they can be or do it on purpose. I digress.

Of the 2 huge suitcases, one apparently contained her bedding (I kid you not) . Apparently she needed two warmers (razai), 2 pillows all of which were colour co-ordinated (make that print-matching) with pleated frills and embroidery along the 4 sides, to enable a good nights sleep. Probably they should serve bed tea next, to complete the charming picture. Since it was winter (Igatpuri can get really chilly) I had gotten the window closed but she managed to poke open the window (the metal mesh to keep out mosquitoes was nailed to the wooden frame meant you cannot close it from inside and the dorm was kinda on a hill so to climb the steep surface i had to go and ask a volunteer to get a man to climb it, especially difficult as men are not allowed to enter the women's only area and vice-versa.)

My bed was near the window and come morning (4 am to be precise) i would get up with a severe migrane and sinus problem and after two nights of this i had a raging fever. It looked like i would have to cut short my stay due to ill health. Needless to say it was impossible to meditate and annoying as i was not able to learn anything. On the third day i had had enough and escalated the matter (should have done it on the first day itself) and the teacher gave me permission to talk to her about it, since she did not listen to the volunteers warning on the previous 2 days. After our chat she behaved and i am not even taking her to task for other irritants like snacking at all hours (remember the carton of food and water) of the day and night, stealing food (fruits from the lunch/tea and dinner time, i didnt ask but she prolly felt guilty as i walked in on her and told me they didnt provide enough food ... duh, its a buffet system so gimme a break, will ya), talking (whispering) to me when we are not supposed to talk, messing up the washroom and not cleaning up after use, .... in short be a complete nuisance and treat others lesser than oneself, which is difficult to ignore when you live together 24/7.

Despite her best efforts to cull my stay, i managed to complete the 10 days successfully and met a lot of other nice people after the course was over. I wanted to go back to repeat a 2nd or 3rd 10-day course, but never did. So I was surprised to discover today that Bangalore has a residential meditation centre, considering the fact that Mumbai still does not have one which meant I had to go to Igatpuri, which was very nice but not always good on our life schedules. In retrospect, it seems better to have one in the city you live, theoretically atleast. I could not locate the Centre on G-maps (Address: Alur (Near Panchayat Office), Dasanapura Hobli, (23 Km from Bangalore City Railway Station)) but am guessing its near Yelahanka or somewhere in N.Blr given that Attur lake sounds like Alur. Not sure. For 2008 this is on my 'to-do' list so lets see if i am able to do it.

2007 December 3 [Monday]

Patents are Evil

Today I read this news report calling for a boycott of Novartis products and remembered what i really felt about this issue years ago.....

In ancient India and China, for centuries exotic animals, plant formulations and herbal concoctions and oils were used to treat diseases. Ayurvedic texts dating thousands of years prove that this traditional knowledge has been in the public domain and passed down from generation to generation for free (zero cost). Keeping knowledge in the public domain ensures a fair and level playing field for everyone. However today's medical world is in a race to uncover the genetic bases of illness, disease and human genome mapping. Scientists and the companies and institutions that pay them have begun to monopolise their efforts with patents for their work. This gives a monopoly right to commercially exploit an invention for 20 years in exchange for publication about how the invention was produced. Pharmaceutical and agro-bio corporations argue that genes, plants, and seeds must be patentable, since they have pumped money and invested their time to develop gene-based drugs or biotech crops.

Rationally speaking genes and crops are not inventions at all, and by allowing them to be patented, control is placed in the hands of a few. Patent monopolies on plants, animal species, human genes, and on new medicines, do threaten to harm developing countries in three ways :

One, higher medicine cost which restricts a citizens access to these new developments ;

Two, it eliminates cheaper local production as per the choice of a patent owner ; and

Three, it forbids farmers to cross-breed, reuse or use agricultural varieties as they were doing for thousands of years. As a result, access to new treatments could be restricted and seeds made too expensive for a poor farmer.

Consider bio-engineered seeds - Genes from rare species and subspecies are also useful in producing new breeds, whether by genetic engineering or ordinary cross-breeding. The drugs, seeds and nowadays the new breeds as well, are typically patented. This causes trouble for developing countries that use them. The 'seed treaty', adopted by UN-FAO member states was enforced in 2004 by corporate seed industry giants, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer, who get a vice-like grip on agricultural developing economies in many countries in Africa and Asia. They get guaranteed access to all the system material which came from farmers and are free to use any material from the system to develop commercial products, make as much profit as they can without any obligation to pay back, on the only condition that others can use their final, commercialized products for further breeding. While they never have to share any of their own materials, except the finished varieties they put on the market, exclusive control over "material under development" is guaranteed to their private collections, discarded rejects from the breeding process and everything else.

This "seed treaty" gives more rights to companies than asserting for farmers' rights by granting non-existent, new privileges to industry. It gives seed companies free access to most of the world's public gene-banks without any obligation to share their own materials in return. I was born and live in India, which has a 70-80% agricultural economy. Most farmers are poor with an average land holding of 5-10 acres and take loans to buy seeds while reusing the seeds from a successful crop for the next season. If the patented and genetically tampered seeds are introduced these poor farmers will suffer financial losses as the seeds have been tampered with genetically and have lost the ability to reproduce the next generation of plants. Some new studies highlight the detrimental effect that patenting drugs, crops, and seeds can have on developing countries. Forcing developing countries to accept developed world practices in patenting was likely to lead to higher-priced medicines and seeds, making poverty reduction more difficult. Under World Trade Organisation rules many of the patents are applicable worldwide.

Vital medical research aimed at developing screening methods and cures for congenital diseases is being stifled by the rush to patent human genes and the corporate use of those patents to maximise profits. Some laboratories have received letters from Corporation's informing them that they have acquired exclusive rights to certain tests in the diagnosis or genetic testing of certain gene testing or of Alzheimer's, Cancer or AIDS disease. Genomic inventions by nature tend to be composition-specific i.e., based on the nucleic acid sequence of the gene and/or the amino acid sequence of the expressed protein. A host of gene patents covering areas that may be important in developing a malaria vaccine (for example) are hindering public-sector efforts to develop affordable vaccination for the developing world. Testing anywhere else would infringe that patent so enter the "company with the patent" - they can now offer to perform the tests but the price per specimen would be very high and un-affordable for the common public.

Cheap treatments for millions of AIDS patients in Africa ended when the Indian parliament passed a legislation bill that makes it illegal to copy patented drugs which made medicines affordable for patients around the world. Indian's were forced to fulfill a commitment to the WTO's intellectual property regime under which, if a generic's manufacturer wants to copy a patented drug, the Indian government will have to issue a compulsory licensce giving the patent holder a royalty, who need not consent. In toto, the patent holding corporation can demand a higher royalty or demand exclusive sale rights or if they have a tie-up with an Indian firm, a higher percentage of the profits. Myriad Genetics Inc., USA, has been awarded nine U.S. patents on the breast/ovarian cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, as well as patents covering antibodies to the BRCA proteins which was discovered in the Sanger Centre in Cambridge and the Institute of Cancer Research and was first published by the British group in Nature in 1995. Yet Myriad simply issued a press release announcing they were patenting it, giving Myriad exclusive rights to commercialize laboratory-testing services, diagnostic kits, and therapeutic products that use the BRCA1/2 sequences.

Patents on the human genetic code inhibits research designed to turn the explosive growth in genetic knowledge into practical ways of identifying inherited disorders and finding cures. The discoveries of genetic sequences for specific diseases or traits have been patented, and so too for genetically modified organisms themselves. The human gene patenting in the hands of a few companies, rather than in public domain (free), is an even more dangerous idea. By picking out four areas where gene patents are being claimed \u2014 in diagnostic tests, as research tools, in gene therapy, and for the production of pharmaceutical proteins \u2014; patents can be inappropriately awarded to the detriment of the public interest. Utility is a critical component of a patent, and an inventor cannot obtain a patent without proof that the invention is useful which is a subjective matter, and difficult to define using objective standards.

The use of patents or exorbitant licensing fees prevents clinical labs from performing genetic tests and limits access to medical care, jeopardises the quality of medical care, and unreasonably raises its cost. The high testing cost puts the new drug and testing procedure out of the hands of the researchers working on government grants, but need to examine hundreds of samples in the search for new mutations and possible therapies. Patent lawyers ensure that genetic testing is limited to specific corporate sponsored labs, thus diminishing access to testing which affects quality as the laboratories cannot cross-check their samples for quality control if one laboratory is doing all the testing.

As a society and from a humanitarian viewpoint ethics in biotechnology are crucial. The developed world is pushing intellectual property (IP) rules with selfish interests, with scant regard for the interests of the poorer developing nations. Patenting erodes bioethics as biotech companies have high financial gain via "biopiracy", moreso by basing their work on natural varieties, human genes found in developing countries or indigenous peoples. Practically, the best solution is to not to allow patents on genes, thereby keeping this knowledge in the public domain, and only give monopoly rights when real innovation and application has been demonstrated. People must be free to grow and breed all sorts of plants and animals for agriculture; manufacture medicine and use genetic engineering to freely commission the genetic modifications that suit their needs without paying royalties to multinational corporations.

Think, today your employer pays your medical bills so you can afford the best medical care. What happens when you retire? Compound costs with the annual inflation rate and coupled with the fact that India does not have a social security system in place nor a social medical system, unlike other nations - Australia, Canada, Chile, US and European nations to name a few. So who will pay your medical bills when you are a 60+ senior citizen with no government pension or public medical aid. Rising medical costs, inflation and the unknown future can burn up your savings post-retirement before you can cry "Help"!

2007 May 28 [Monday]

long road ahead

Despite having (slowly) ramped up my training I find my reflexes have slowed down over time and just hate it when my wrist suddenly locks-up in a really bad way... last year's leg injury was less painful in retrospect.

I am trying not to over-do it as each day is not the same and keeping a tabs on every progress and/or failure can just backfire. The basic is balance + speed in Karate, but not at the cost of focus, so getting this combination right means I need to split them and take a step at a time. My focus is (definitely) off by a few inches and that is so depressing.

With training, I hope I can learn to respond quickly, accurately, and seemingly without thought. To be at the peak, I need to perfect my balance, speed, reflexes, power, co-ordination, focus, physical and mental discipline.

Co-ordinating hand, eye, brain with body reflexes is not so easy and I tend to look back in time nostalgically, when I first trained as a teenager, just hoping to remember some survival tips. Just writing this tells me I am at the bottom of the pyramid.... a long road ahead indeed!!

2007 May 2 [Wednesday]

Random thoughts

I truly suck at keeping a web-diary log. I had started this entry last week (with A's intended arrival) and never did finish penning all my thoughts and then there is the unfinished draft on UW.... *sigh*

One all-nighter at the airport threw my sleeping patterns into a state of perpetual flux... or is it the 24x7 jabbering and trying to catch up on 4+ years in a week.... :-) Eitherway, Ma will hate the silence at home when we all leave, Ami next and me this week. Here's looking forward to running up huge bills in long-distance calls...*sheesh* !

After much mulling (and procrastination for years) I decided to finish some unfinished business - resume my martial arts training. I always regretted leaving it mid-way when I was 12 years old and despite weighing heavily on my mind for so many years I dunno why I never did anything about it.

During these years I managed to keep in touch with the basics, did yoga and trained at home whenever I found time, just to retain the edge so to speak. Its not good enough and deep inside, I missed training under a Sensei. the discipline, focus, self-control, patience, peace and stillness of mind that comes with it. I am keeping an open mind and decided not to be rigid and learn only one form (Karate). Probably I should try learning other arts like Taichi, Shaolin Kungfu. More than the physical benefits its the mental training that counts here so I would appreciate comments/experiences from anyone reading this, especially if you have trained in Taichi, Shaolin Kungfu or any other soft style arts.