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Archive for the ‘tit bits’ Category

The following is the letter to the TOI editor that mr vidyaranya bellur emailed, but unfortunately the letter was highly edited and published on 28/01/08. since he had emailed a copy to me, i thought of publishing it here unedited so that it might interest my readers and they may write their comments on this:

 

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Your news item “Sweden to study belching cows TOI dt. 23-1-08” is not only hilarious but epitomizes height of senselessness on part of research funding agencies. Cows every where have been nurturing from time immemorial on naturally grown greens and have been yielding milk that is nourishing human kind ever since civilization. Also, it is a well known fact that cow dung is an excellent manure that enriches the soil solely because it’s herbivorous nature. We may recall here how processed meat & bone were fed to these poor herbivorous animals which resulted in spread of mad cow disease in Europe which in turn lead to the butchering of thousands of innocent cows.

Now we hear of this crazy research being carried out on these poor bovines’ belchings which is supposedly contributing to the emission of green house gases! Instead, I strongly suggest the funding may be diverted to measure the emissions under the pants of junk food eaters where the results would indicate the contribution of human methane levels that would far exceed those of bovines’ belching!

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

B.S.Vidyaranya

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We will continue with the identification features of Learning Disability in Children. Many of these features may be present in a child below the age of 8 as part of their developmental phase. There are developmental norms in various domains of child development and children differ in their pace of attaining these norms. If they persist beyond the age of 8, then special assessments for LD need to be done. Below the age of 8 if these problems are seen, it may indicate that the child is  ‘at risk’ of developing LD and suitable remedial measures are taken to alleviate the problem earlier.

We will now see what are the various errors that a child with “Reading Difficulty” or “Dyslexia” may commit:

Children with reading difficulty generally show a reluctance when suggested to read a book. They may give excuses like, “these are not taught to us in the school” or “we will first do some other activity and then do this”.

They may struggle so much to read that the pace of reading becomes very slow.

They may need to finger-point each and every word in order not to miss the position in the text while reading. They may skip words or skip sentences.

They may make errors like omitting words, adding words not in the text, guessing the words (team as time, clock as cloth, paper as pepper), calling out each letter and unable to blend them, reversal of letters in a word – on as no, was as saw, dog as god, tap as pat, pin as nip.

They may jumble up the soundsin a word, like, saying aminal for animal, pheletone for telephone.

They may find it difficult to ‘attack’ an unfamiliar word and get it right.

They may read a whole passage in a monotone and also pay no regard to the punctuations. This can be due to lack of comprehension.

Reading comprehension may be poor. They may find it difficult to understand what they read. Most of these children would be struggling to blend letters into words or join words together to make a sentence that it becomes difficult for them to give attention and grasp the meaning of what they are reading. The same children, if they are read to, can listen well and understand what has been read out as they are spared of the struggle to read! That is the reason why many of these children insist that their mother read out the question and answers of lessons while they sit and listen and understand.

Reading is a process of de-coding. The letters that go into the formation of words are nothing but symbolic representation of sounds that we produce through speech. Each language has its own coding in the form of letters of alphabet. The difficulty to read arises because of an inability to decode the letters or associate the sounds (phonemes) with the respective letters (graphemes) and blend these sounds to make meaningful words. This difficulty is more evident in English language where the phonemes and the graphemes have no connection at all. The letters b-a-g that make the word ‘bag’ are in no way connected to the sound that we make as ‘buh’ – ‘aah’- and ‘guh’ that blend together to make the word ‘bag’! The words ‘put’ and ‘but’ have different sounds associated with the letter ‘u’. Some letters make more than one sound. For ex: the letter ‘a’ makes different sounds in different words like apple, car, lake, again. Letter ‘g’ has a soft sound as in the word ‘gem’ and a hard sound in the word ‘gate’. Letter ‘c’ also has two different sounds as in ‘cinema’ and candy’. And there are many words where certain letters become ‘silent’. This leads to lot of confusion in a child’s mind who has difficulty in understanding a new language that he has not been previously exposed. Many of the regional languages of India, like Hindi, Kannada and others have their grapheme and phoneme the same. The letters we write represent the same sound and become easy to blend together to make a word. Though the grapheme-phoneme confusion is not there in these languages, the enormity of ‘kaagunithas’ and ‘ottaksharas’ make these languages difficult to learn for these children. 

We need to understand that dyslexia is not just a difficulty to decode letters and words. It is a whole problem of processing language to make sense out of it.

Children learn reading through sight first. They just look at whole word, listen to the sound of the word, associate it with a picture of an object or the real object that they see and understand their meaning. When you gradually remove the picture, they are still able to recognize the word as their brains would have stored these words and sounds like photographic memories. You can see young children reading out big billboards of advertisements that have been made familiar to them through advertisements on Television. Later when they enter school, letters are taught and they automatically recollect the earlier sight-reading and slowly pick up the skill of decoding the words. In many schools, the sounds of english letters are taught first – “phonetic way of teaching reading” – instead of A B C D they are taught ‘aah’, ‘buh’, ‘kah’, ‘duh’ etc. They believe that this is a better way of teaching letters of the alphabet as children can easily decode the words at a later stage. There is also the other school of thought that says “whole word approach” is a better way to start off where children blindly pick up whole words, sounds and their meanings. In fact this was the way we were all taught reading long long ago. But children who have been taught reading through phonetic way find it easier to attack unfamiliar words, however long they are.

Many children with LD have the problem of “figure-ground perception”. In any picture or music or a story, there is a fore-ground and a back-ground. Generally we all pay attention to the foreground and ignore the background thus able to grasp the main theme running through it. But these children are unable to distinguish between the important and the unimportant or the relevant and the irrelevant details. Hence when they read a long passage or listen to a long narration or look at a picture, they may miss out on important points and give attention to the irrelevant. They may not be able to sustain their attention and concentration for long to catch the main theme. Hence reproduction of a task becomes difficult for them.

…………………… to be continued

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My dearest readers,

My heartiest greetings to all of you for the New Year 2008!

May we all be lead from insensitivity to sensitivity;  self-centredness to other-centredness; ignorance to wisdom!

Here are some sentences from the spiritual guru His Holiness Sri Dalai Lama upon the Paradoxes of Our Times. Even if you have read it elsewhere before , I am sure the words can never go astale.

Here we go ruminating on His words:

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower view points

We spend more, but we have less

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time

We have more Degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgement

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values

We have learnt how to make a living, but not how to make life

We have added years to life, but not life to years

We have gone all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the road to meet the new neighbour

We have conquered outer space, but not the inner space

We know how to clean up air and water, but not our souls

We have learnt to split the atoms but not shed our prejudices

These are times of steep profits and shallow relationships

These are times of world peace, but domestic warfares

These are times of fancier houses, but broken homes

This is the time when there is much in the show window, but nothing in the stock room

A time when technology can bring this letter to you

And a time when you can choose

Either to make a difference ………………. or just hit, delete!

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This morning i was pained beyond verbal expression on reading a news item in Indian Express, print edition, Bangalore. It seems for this Christmas celebration and holidaying, our Prez Prathibha and 10 of her kith and kin decided to holiday at Andaman & Nicobar island and you know what was the repercussion of her decision?! 60 most precious trees in the most environmentally protected park there were mercilessly cut down just to make a helipad for her jolly landing! Can anything be more environmentally dishonourable act?? And the personal secretary of hers has the cheek to say that he was not aware of how many trees were going to be cut and he has passed the buck to the forest officer of that island.  Is this not a blatant environmental abuse? – just to please our president madam and her party for a mere stay of 2-3 days, how could they order cutting of 60 most precious trees which must have been 200 to 300 year old?? When our prez decides to holiday at a place, is it not her foremost duty to see that the environment of the surroundings are not harmed in anyway by her visit? It is the most atrocious assault that every environmental activist and lover should very strongly protest! We citizens can not keep our eyes and ears shut to such a crime on the environment, that too in such a peace loving and peace spreading place like Andamans.

It is not just this. Just to accommodate her entourage, all advance bookings done by the travellers to these 5-star resorts for Christmas and New year vacation were unceremoniously cancelled, telling all of them that they had to give priority to the VVIPs! Did they not understand the hardship and inconveniences that these travellers and tourists are put into and what an image India would create in the minds of the Foreign tourists!

I understand that hundreds and thousands of trees are being cut down everywhere to make way for civilization. But the cutting down of trees is atleast helping thousands of people to build their homes, industries and somewhere adding to the National Income. Here I am not endorsing it. But atleast people are asked to plant a tree elsewhere in lieu of this act. But cutting down such heritage trees to please our prez and her kith and kin’s fancies is UNPARDONABLE!

I am ashamed at the insensitivity of our Prez!

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This morning while i was going through the Times of India news paper, the news item that shocked me was about a recent death of a boy that was thought to be a suicide and now the parents have come out with the information that it was not a case of suicide, but an accidental death caused by playing a dangerous game called ‘choking game’!

Can games be so bizarre as to take the life of a boy?! How can people keep quiet about the appearance of such games on Internet? It seems, groups of youngsters play this game, wherein, the children try to choke themselves inorder to get a ‘kick’! out of the sensation of suffocation, and look now, the boy has kicked the bucket!

it seems many children have met their death playing this kind of a dangerous game, mostly by hanging, without realizing the serious repurcussions that such an act can have. Many deaths are mistakenly reported as death by suicide. Children believe that it is a ‘daring’ act that can boost their image in front of their peers! And the peer group encourages this. Children even believe that the act gives them a ‘high’ similar to the effect of drugs and they even get to experience erotic feelings! What madness! We have to immediately take up ‘awareness programmes’ in schools to educate the children of consequences of such a game. This can cause death or serious lifelong disability as the brain cells get damaged due to stoppage of oxygen to them.

Can the Internet Policing not ban these kind of dangerous sites? Oh my god, where is technology leading our kids to???????

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Monday Morning Blues

Why do people develop Monday Morning Blues? Could we all postpone it by a day or two if we named Monday as Tuesday and Tuesday as Wednesday and then Wednesday as Monday? 🙂  Isn’t that a great Idea, Sethji?!

Please let me know if all of you agree. It is another matter that people then would be afflicted with Tuesday Tomato Reds with angry faces on Tuesday mornings as that would be the day they need to get back to work after partying hard on Sats and Suns!

So instead of wasting time writing such blogs and reading such blog posts, let us try to think how best to beat the MMBs:

Think of the beautiful smile that you would receive from that new chic (or chick on my profile pic)  on the bloc as soon as you entered the office !

Think how soon a week has passed and how soon 3 more weeks would get over and you would be receiving that fat cheque again 🙂

And think of next Monday (24th Dec) when most of you would have taken leave to enjoy that loooooooooong 4 day holiday from Sat to Tues…………..

Ah, thats better, now i am seeing a few smiles on monday afternoon!

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People have a variety of fears. Some fear darkness, some fear animals, some others fear loss of face, some people fear death of self or death of loved ones and other so many. Some even have irrational, inexplicable fears of such high intensity that can upset the quality of their everyday life. Such intense, irrational fears are called phobia.

Behavioural psychologists believe that fear is a learnt behaviour and hence can be unlearnt. But biological psychologists are now saying that fear is neurologically based. It is hardwired in our brain at birth! There are neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that are found to be ‘fear receptors’. These neurons when excited produce certain chemicals (neuro transmitters) that create fear in our minds. Researchers say that there are certain innate fears in animals’ minds about their predators that make them escape from the site whenever they sense the presence of an enemy nearby. Recently in a laboratory experiment, psychologists have found out that if these particular ‘fear receptor cells’ are deactivated through genetic modification, the animal no more fears  its predator. They genetically modified these cells in rats that made them become fearless of cats and they could move about freely even when they sensed a cat nearby!

If these experiments can be successfully conducted in other animals too and the results duplicated, it will not be long before a similar fearlessness induced in humans too through genetic modification!

But more than we fear all the external enemies, is it not our internal enemies that we are to be more worried about? – the “ari shadvarga” of “kaama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, maatsarya”? It requires soul-modification through spirituality than genetic modification of science to rid ourselves of all these internal foes! 🙂

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The above article is based on an article i read in Times of India, today.

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