Migratory Birds Land Up On Dining Tables At TN Eateries

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Migratory Birds Land Up On Dining Tables At TN Eateries

By K Praveen Kumar, TNN, 27 January 2010 CHENNAI:

Thousands of native and migratory birds, which fly long distances to visit the protected Pallikaranai marsh on Chennai’s outskirts, are ending up on the dining tables of restaurants. Poachers, who had beat a retreat after 317 hectares of the marsh was declared protected forest area in 2007, are now making a comeback.

While ‘narikuravas’, originally nomadic forest hunters, are known to hunt birds and animals across the state, a group of poachers from the Karapakkam area is killing blackwinged stilts and teals in large numbers, according to forest officials. The birds are often sold to restaurants, which pass them off as quail meat.

The Karapakkam poachers have adopted a unique method to catch the stilts alive without creating much noise. They use a single bird as a live bait to attract a flock. The birds eye is sutured shut and its legs tied before it is propped up in the middle of a net. The birds cry attracts others flying by. As a flock descends on the net, the poachers, who sit some distance away, pull the strings to net the birds.

“They catch about 30 birds at one go. These birds are either sold here or transported outside the city to be sold to restaurants,” a forest department source said. Kancheepuram forest officials came face to face with such a gang a couple of days ago, but the poachers managed to flee. “We have registered 35 cases of bird poaching in the Velachery range alone since April 2009,” said forest range officer David Raj.

Black winged stilts are intracountry migrators. They start moving to this part of the country during December when the marsh has around one foot or half a-foot of water. They remain here till March, feeding on insects, and some even breed here.

Courtsey: Times of India

Google Reader Is Now A Website Watcher

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Recently my dear friend and fellow blogger, RockSta, peppered an article in front of me about Google’s new ability to track a webpage / website that does not have feeds. I was really excited at the prospect.


How many times haven’t we thought about this small but very essential part of a website? When RSS feeds first appeared, it brought in with it the ability to read our favorite sites at one shot, but not all webmasters were happy to publish their feeds. Some were reluctant (to use the new technology), some were afraid (of plagiarism) and some had no idea (like me!). RSS has revolutionized the way we read posts of our favorite author, blogger, website or the comments they attract.

Now for the reality check. I tried using this new feature on Google Reader. Set up a few feeds. Will check over a few weeks on how precisely it works. For starters who want to set up a feed from a feed-less website, read an example from the Google Reader Blog

For example, if you wanted to follow Google.org’s latest products, just type “http://www.google.org/products.html” into Reader’s “Add a subscription” field. Click “create a feed”, and Reader will periodically visit the page and publish any significant changes it finds as items in a custom feed created just for that page.

Some stuff to keep in mind while using this feature:
1. The updates on your reader account depend on the periodicity with which Google checks that site
2. A caution that Google wants us to note, “Reader may not always detect updates to your content”. Whoa…!
3. Updates to any content that is in frames will not be detected nor can one get updates from sites that require you to sign-in
4. And this functionality is up for grabs only on sites with English language content as of now

The whole procedure works on Google’s ability to cache a page and compare it with any changes a page might have undergone, every time it visits it. Pretty neat!

Smart webmasters who don’t want their website to be Googled or G Read by Google Bots can add the following meta tag to any page they want to block

<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noarchive”>

The above meta tag tells Google not to take a snapshot or cache that webpage.

This is not the first time Google is coming out with a user-demanded feature, but hats-off they did!

There are many third party services too that claim to create feeds for websites, but many aren’t promising. I like one software in particular that achieves an overall watch over a website or a domain. It’s called Website Watcher. Check out their website for more details. A review of it in another post, so stay tuned.

Language of Music

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Music and language, as they say, have co-evolved and both share certain unique similarities.

I write this while listening to a song, a peppy Bollywood number, that belonged to a movie, which fizzled out before anyone even knew about it. The song has an impression on my mind – and trust me, it can endure time and memory.

I have lot of similar stories on songs and the music composition surrounding it. I say that lyrics, tune, instruments used, singer – all are factors that are attributable to a song’s success. Still, irrespective of who sang it, wrote it, composed it, I can like just by listening to it. This contradicts my previous statement, but that is what I call – “Language of Music”.

Experts say that same brain structures are involved in processing music and language. Does this suggest that music can play a key role in developing one’s linguistic capabilities? Well, I partly agree with this, because I know people who , in spite of stammering, can sing mellifluously. Whoa, another speech therapy – “Music”!!

There is a striking characteristic of a good song or rather a song which I, you or any other human being cherish — The “feel good” factor. A song, or any part of it like a beat, a word, a stanza, a note or the time when one heard the song initiates a cascade of emotions somewhere, which you realize each time you listen to it. This is probably the most common feeling that most of us have and we express often. Just remember a song which gets you going – getting goose flesh..eh?

So….go ahead enjoy music, relish what kicks you best and hard. “Su Che Su Che” – this is what I am listening to ;o))

Au Revoir – Jyoti Babu!

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It has been quite a while that I was looking for time and space to pen down my picture of Jyoti Basu. For a man whose reign as a Chief Minister (of West Bengal) spanned 23 years, and whose legacy is there for eternity, much has been discussed in media following his sad demise.

Each day, while browsing my newspaper, I find a column or two dedicated to this personality, which brings out his lesser known facts and makes me wonder about the sharpness of this man. Someone had rightly said after he declined PM’ship, “this man is not a king, he is a kingmaker.” Even being in power of such a politically volatile state, he was humble and humane till his last breath.

As an aspiring lawyer he was drawn to Marxism very early in his life that proved to be a factor behind his rise in the communist ranks of India. Before Mr. Basu took to bed, he was the most sought after leader in CPI (M) central committee. A veteran in freedom struggle and having seen the early politics of a free India, this man, indeed, was in a perfect situation to take on the mantle of the revolutionary Communist Party of India.

I haven’t been a resident of West Bengal, however, the impact that this man had over the people of India, and those of Bengal, in particular, is very strong. Post his death, I am more drawn to the kind of life he led and the control he had over folks.

Farewell to an era and the icon who will reign at the top with his grit and courage forever.

Recession Or Boom….Consumers Always Have Alternatives!

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Recession is heading north as unemployment grows, energy prices soar and property prices nosedive. I had a strong feeling that during a recession, people tend to hold back assets than cash. However, the slump in property prices across Europe and its ripple effects in Asia have dented the confidence of investors in Asia. Consequently, consumer spending also took a beating in retail, services, entertainment and others.

An economic downturn represents breakaway growth opportunities for those clever enough to help consumers feel good about migrating to “inferior goods” by enabling them to justify their decisions in terms other than affordability. A status-conscious car owner would not feel bad about trading his/her Accord or Teana or Camry for a more economical Toyota Prius, because he can boast of saving the environment.

So, how does a common man like me, (provided he is aware of the global crisis and weighs its implications on an individual level) would have a shift in spending behavior? Basically, as a consumer, the following factors would prompt me to buy a new product:
  1. Dissatisfaction with a current product
  2. The Need/Want for a new substitute
  3. Availability of the substitute
  4. Market price
  5. Utility factor of the new substitute
  6. Post-buying evaluation
Among these factors (in trying circumstances), I would give utmost importance to the utility factor and see if the product is living up to my constantly changing set of expectations.
This shift of my buying behavior for different kinds of products and services is technically termed as preference for “inferior” goods. Well, I am happy with it, what else do I need? Whether it is “inferior” or “cheap”, I look into the utility of the product in the near-term, enough to weather away the recession storm. What is noteworthy here is that companies with smartly cultivated “inferior goods” in their portfolio will ensure repurchase of its premium products.
In these situations, marketing holds the key, because in an age of pressure consumption, insights and understanding of marketers can make all the difference. Sooner or later the economy will bounce back. So, with my amateur marketing know-how I would suggest that companies should remain focused on consumer behavior dynamics rather than blunt selling, for a consumer is the best judge.

Give a Balanced Treat to Sachin – Please!

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Newspapers splashing the recent achievement of Sachin Tendulkar across the world are a testimony to the fact that he is equally celebrated worldwide as he is worshipped in India. Sachin enjoys the distinction of enthralling cricket lovers not only with his immaculate strokeplay, but also with his dignified charm and humility off the field.

What I believe is that the connoisseurs of the game must take the responsibility of placing him in a position where the little master deserves to be, ignoring the emotional cravings that we Indians show for him. Not long ago (2002), very few remember that Kapil Dev was honored as the Wisden Indian cricketer of the century. The feat, well deserved by Kapil, is unique and stands out to be the best all round achievement of a cricketer. The former Indian captain aggregated over 5000 runs and over 400 wickets in tests.

An overdose of applause does come with its baggage of emotional outbursts that we Indians do express time and again. And that is well understood and taken in the right spirit always. But the debate regarding whether Sachin is the greatest cricketing mind will be carried on and on…without the possibility of reaching a consensus. Sir Gary Sobers, Brian Lara, Sunil Gavaskar, Allan Border (leaving Sir Don apart) and current player Ricky Ponting belong to the same level or very close to it.

Little research will show that there is a lacuna in Sachin’s CV. A triple hundred, scoring centuries in each test innings, 750 test runs in a five-match series, 500 test runs in a three-match series are some of the elements that are missing from his aggregates. These achievements are considered common in the list of greats.

Being a cricket enthusiast myself, I believe that India can again produce someone close to a Gavaskar or a Tendulkar, but producing a great all-rounder like Kapil is next to impossible. There was no hullabaloo of hailing Gavaskar as the greatest when he crossed the hitherto unimaginable milestone of 10,000 test runs and similarly for Kapil when he reached the pinnacle of bowling glory by taking Mark Taylor’s wicket in the 1991–92 home series.

The achievement of Sachin is spectacular, after all not everyday does a batsman cross 12,000 test runs. However, I believe that the instead of going overboard, the media and the so-called experts should treat Sachin in a much more balanced manner, carefully examining his unique achievements.

Applying for a Loan? Check Your Responsibility Score

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Banks may very soon rely on your school grades, driving habits, shopping habits and tax payments to appraise your capacity to borrow or absorb a credit. These nontraditional metrics apparently help a lot in judging a borrower’s behavior in the long term, according to industry experts. Risk analysts term these metrics as “responsibility” scores.

How are these scores arrived at? Let us see this example – A person who pays all his utility bills is more likely to follow his exercise regimen in a gym. This accomplishes his objective of weight loss and demonstrates his responsibility. A habit like this ranks him well in his responsibility score.

Nowadays, lenders harvest huge amounts of borrowers’ financial data to assess risks associated with credit, but the need for a broader read and more comprehensive social profile of people is imminent. Industry leaders like SAS are already working towards this by surveying a number of Americans in order to investigate and infer their behavioral patterns in daily life. Lenders may one day take into account lots of nontraditional metrics, such as whether the borrower has a good reputation on eBay or pays cell-phone bills on time before deciding whether to extend credit.

Borrower’s appetite for credit – not for their ability to afford the risks was something banks were glued into till now. However, the credit crunch has pushed analysts to paying more attention to newer risk models that call for more revenue projections from each borrower. In future, the responsibility scores may well earn you admission in a reputed college or employment in the same.

Social statistics would always be subjected to privacy laws and regulations. Even so, analysts are highly skewed towards introducing new risk analysis models. So, do we need to be a little paranoid with the thought of borrowing? Well, I would say…just act responsible!

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