Scientific Explanations

Last week I watched a movie named The Reaping. It’s all about God and Satan and all. The movie is a typical Hollywood horror/thriller movie. The protagonist [hero/heroine] doesn’t believe in God due to the past events in his/her life and by the end of the movie, he/she end up being a believer due to the events of the movie. I can name any number of movies with similar themes. But some specific parts in the movie made me thinking. Most of you may be familiar about the ten plagues which fell up on Egypt, described in the Bible, Old Testament. The Pharaoh, enslaved God’s people, and God gave him the ten plagues. I am not going in to the details. This movie is about similar things happening in a small town. Here is a portion of the movie where we get a scientific explanation for what exactly happened back then. Watch the clip and let me know what you people think about it? The second clip explains what really happens these days which we ‘believe’ are miracles. Anyway, by the end of the movie, it is clearly stated that God exist [in a very pathetic manner].

For those who do not have access to YouTube, here is the dialogue.

Ben: This is getting little hard to ignore Katherine, we are four for four, chapter and the verse and I mean actual verse, blood, frogs, flies, dead life stock
Prof. Katherine Winter: These cows aren't dead.
Ben: No not yet but from where I'm standing, it looks pretty damn serious.
Prof. Katherine Winter: The Bible says that God sent the plagues as warnings to the Pharaoh to let his people go. What is he supposed to be saying here?
Ben: Well maybe it’s not from him. The Pharaohs sorcerers used their own magic to match God, plague for plague, evil against good.
Prof. Katherine Winter: Well who's responsible? Satan?
Ben: I didn't say that. I don't know. What I do know is that we are witnessing biblical events.
Prof. Katherine Winter: Alright, you wanna talk Plagues? Let's talk Plagues.
In 14OO B.C. a group of nervous Egyptians saw the Nile turn red, but what they thought was "blood" was actually an algae bloom, which killed the fish which prior to that had been living off the eggs of frogs; those uneaten eggs which turned into record numbers of baby frogs who subsequently fled to the land and died. Their little rotting frog bodies attracted lice and flies; the lice carried the Blue Tongue Virus which killed off 70% of Egypt's livestock. The flies carried glanders a bacterial infection which in humans causes boils. Soon after the Nile river valley was hit with a three day sandstorm otherwise known as The Plague of Darkness. During the sandstorm intense heat can combine with an approaching coldfront to create not only hail but also electrical storms which would have looked to the ancient Egyptians like fire from the sky; the subsequent wind would have blown the Ethiopian locust population off course and right into downtown Cairo. Hail is wet, locusts leave droppings spread both on your brain and you have michotoxins. Dinner time in ancient Egypt meant the first born child got the biggest portion which in this case meant he ate the most toxins so he died. Ten plagues, ten scientific explanations. Gotta wash up.

Prof. Katherine Winter: Deep well injection. That's what it's called when a factory drops hazardous waste down a dry oil well. This kind of illegal underground disposal has been common practice in Third World countries for years. In this case, ethanol and methanol mixed with the aromatic compound DMSO and benzene seeped out after an earthquake running off into the sewer system below the monastery, the fumes of which has the dual effect of preserving human tissue (showing the preserved body of a ‘saint’) and if inhaled, creating intense hallucinatory effects. Throw in a population economically deprived enough to believe in almost anything… and you've got yourself a miracle. A miracle created by a greedy, cost-cutting corporation. Instead of providing cures for the faithful it provided them with lungful of toxic waste. This puts me at 48 miraculous occurrences I've investigated with 48 scientific explanations. I'm sorry to say, the only miracle is that people keeps believing. Have a great weekend.
Go, Tigers.
They need a miracle.

My question: Do you really need miracles to prove God exists? Is it really hard to believe in something without proof?

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed - John 20:29

For more information about the movie, visit

What the hell?

I tried to ‘loveBangalore. But here is something I would like to share with you. Can any one please explain these traffic signals?? Especially my ‘I love Bangalore’ friends. I am confused about all these. I took these photos from Madiwala, near the Hanuman temple.

1. All the signals are red and all the vehicles are moving. Why?

2. Ok, the previous one may have been the drivers’ error. May be they saw the road deserted and went ahead. But what about this one?? If you look at this picture, you can see all the green signals are there. They tell the drivers, it’s ok to go wherever you want to go, left, right or straight. The road is all yours. [In fact, you cannot take a left turn here].

3. Can somebody help me out here, please? Which one do I choose? The red one or the green one? [Yes the green light shows ‘go straight’ not ‘go right’, zoom it, you’ll see. And I don’t think there is a left turn there, if that’s what the red indicates]
Don’t think this is a faulty traffic light post, its like this every time. I checked it many times. Fortunately I don’t have to use my bike in this road so often.

4. This time its my fault, I didn’t see the sign post [No Parking] [This photo, I took from across the mall, Forum] I’m not blaming anyone here, just that I want you to know this is a ‘no parking’ space and if you park here, there is a chance that the police will impound your vehicle [Look close, you can see the ‘no parking’ sign, near the transformer, where 2 bikes are parked]. Last day, after a movie at Forum, when I came back, I couldn’t find my bike. I saw people stacking some bikes into a carriage truck. I enquired and they said, come to Madiwala Police Station. Finally I ‘released’ my bike for Rs 300/-.

5. What can you say about this? Ofcourse this is not a main road[Maruthinagar], but obviously one with really heavy traffic. And during a Saturday evening [hope you know the traffic rush of weekends], they have set up a stage right in the middle of the road.

These are a few things I came across over a period of 2 days, about Bangalore. If I start writing about all the things, I don't think this blog will be enough. So much for the great Bangalore.

Term Vs Endowment Insurance Policies

Another financial year end is nearing. Just like last year, I started thinking about saving some tax. [Not through any illegal means] Last year I was too late and I couldn’t save much of it. So I was determined about not to regret later. But to start with, I am really poor in financial management. All I know was only some type of investments/savings [Financial management gurus, please forgive me if I am misusing any technical terms] are eligible for tax savings under some section [80C I think] and a wise advice also “Diversify your investments/savings”.
But for that, I need to know what kind of investments are there. The main ones are mutual funds, life insurances, public provident fund. These will serve my purpose of saving tax very well I think, so I confined my research to these. Now, based on my research, here is something about the insurance policies I want to share with others.
A word of warning: I am completely new to this kind of stuff and what I am writing here is my opinion only. Many people argued against this approach with many other views and facts. So decide wisely. I am not that good with technical terms, I am explaining in ‘layman’s’ terms.
There are 3 main types of insurances
1. Endowment Policies [With money back ]
2. Term Policies [Without money back]
3. ULIP type
I don’t know much about the third type because almost all the articles I read or people I talked to [including a financial consultant] said linking your insurances with mutual funds is not a good idea.
Now, I will explain the other two with an example. Suppose you want to take insurance with a sum assured of 5 lakhs [You will get this amount in the case of your death during that period] and say, for a period of 20 years. [Assuming your age is 25]
In the first type, you give the insurance company, a premium of 25,000/- to 27000/- per year for 20 years. If something happens to you in that period, you will get the 5 lakhs for sure, plus bonus. These are endowment policies.
In the second type, what happens is, you pay the premium for the same 20 years, and in the end you won’t get anything back. You will get the sum assured, only if something ‘bad’ happens to you in that period. Ok, now why you need to take such a policy? Here come the point, the premium you will be giving, will be much less than the other one, only around 1200/- per year. These are known as the term policies.
Now let’s compare them. For that just have a look at the excel sheet [I too hate excel sheets, but just look at the first and last figures] here.
Assume you are putting 25500/- for 20 years in the first type of policy. With a bonus of 5% [it varies every year and the max is 4.5% (from LIC)], at the end of 20 years, what you will get is 885,340.92/-. Now consider you are going for a term policy and putting around 1200/- per year and remaining 24300/- [25500 - 1200] in PPF [which will give 8% interest]. Then look at your final earnings, 1,200,976.99/-. And the difference is, 315,636.07/-. And that is not a small difference. There are some more advantages too. Consider you want to go for insurance worth 20lakh. You will have to pay around 1lakh per year for 20 years which is nearly impossible [for guys like me]. But the other case, you only have to pay around 3800/-.
My argument is like this, it’s always better to have an insurance, we cannot say what will happen to us and when. So, insurance is insurance and savings is savings, never combine them together. 1200/- per year is not much. With 20 years you are spending 24000/-, but gaining much more from some other form of savings. [Here I took the example of PPF, and I assume you know that there are many schemes which will give you much more returns] And the agents don’t promote the term policies much because their commission is based on the premium you are paying. So next time when some one says “why do you want to pay for 20-25 years and not get back anything?”, think the other way or try to get a good look at the big picture.
Hope this will help some one who is worried about which insurance policy to take. And above all, next year by this time, I am sure that I will be reading this to know what a term policy is and what an endowment policy is.
The individual policies differ in the details and all, but the basic concept is same. Also, for term policies, you won’t get much tax exemption since the premium you are paying is less. If anyone want the excel sheet, please feel free to ask me. The premium amount is taken from LIC/SBI premium calculator.
Also, I would like to thank all the people who helped me writing this blog, especially my colleague who gave me that excel sheet and explained it. ;)

Through the eyes of a Dragonfly!!!

I love photography. I love to copy and store the instances of our lives, which we want to remember forever, or a moment which is so lovely that you want to live in it forever or a scenery which will affect your mood so much. Digital photography has made it much simpler and cheaper for all of us I think.

The first task I wanted to complete after getting a broadband connection was to organize all my photos, upload them to web and share it with everyone. For that purpose, I have chosen yahoo’s Flickr. It’s really amazing. Once if you get to know it better, it’s simply the best I think. I have been using another web service. I chose it earlier because of its simplicity. But now I realized Flicker is better than any other photo sharing services. So I thought I will transfer and organize all those photos which are uploaded previously and those I have in my local machine. But the problem was, there was around 1GB of photos [after I sorted out the ones I wanted to upload] for me to sort and upload. 526 photos, to be precise. So I spent around 36hours almost straight [4hrs of sleep in b/w] to upload and organize the photos. But when it was finished, I felt immensely satisfied. So reader, when you get time, I mean a lot of time, visit this link.

Steps to take a BSNL Broadband connection in Bangalore - Final Part - My Diwali Gift

...Assuming you have read the first and second part of this one which is available in my blog archive...
10 Oct 2007, Wednesday
After getting my phone activated, I called the JTO. He told me, the process for broadband will automatically be started after my landline gets activated. After that, it may take around 10-15 days to get the connection. I also asked whether there is any modem shortage or so, but he said, there is no shortage.

22 Oct 2007, Monday
It is exactly 2 weeks since I got my phone line and still no word of the broadband. I called the JTO. After trying till evening, I finally got the call connected. He checked with my phone number and told me, the broadband is now in the process of creating username. When I asked how much time it will take for that, he said may be 1 week or more, it is done in another section. [I wonder how complicated it is to make a username]. He also gave me the number of that ‘section’. I called, called and called. Nothing happened except the phone ringing, ringing and ringing.

23 Oct 2007, Tuesday
I went to the place where I gave the application. They directed me to the exchange. [They were very friendly to me] First they told me there is some software updates going on and it will take only 2-3 days. Then they checked with my landline number and said that I will get my connection with in November second week for sure. Once again I got assurance for another 2-3 weeks.

3 Nov 2007, Saturday
I was at this shopping mall and its then that I got this call. He introduced him as calling from BSNL and whether he can come on Monday to give me the connection. I couldn’t believe it at first. For me getting the BSNL connection was like attaining a long lost dream or something like that. I immediately agreed and told him to call me before he comes. He said he will come in the afternoon.

5 Nov 2007, Monday
I waited till 3pm. I thought again I missed it. Then I called the JTO in my area and asked about it. He gave me the number of another guy and told me that the one who called me was on leave that day. I called the new one and he said he will come soon. And by 4:30pm he called me saying he will come soon. I went home from office. And finally he came. He gave us the wireless router itself, the one we applied for. I asked him whether they had the stock and it seems like they’ve just got the new stock. He did all the configurations. But it was not yet the actual connection. He said it will take 2-3days more to activate it in the exchange. Atleast we got all the hardware and configured them and are fully ready for the net. He gave me the username, the password and the helpline number too.
I have to admit one thing. Even if the BSNL are slow, the people working there (from my experience) are all very friendly and are always there to help. I am talking about the people, a customer will come in contact with. On November 9th, I will celebrate 2nd month anniversary after giving the application.

8 Nov 2007, Wednesday [Diwali]
I got a Diwali gift, not from my friends or relatives, but from BSNL. Yeah! I got my broadband connection. I don’t know how they managed it, but they activated it precisely on the Diwali day and manage not to test my patience by extending it to a third month. They gave the connection precisely on the 2nd month itself. Even now, there are some more problems, but I hope they will be solved in due time. Nyway, thanks BSNL for the Diwali gift and for letting me complete this trilogy about the pursuit of me for the broadband connection.

Bangalore: The City of thieves?

First of all, I am not accusing everyone in Bangalore. I have many good friends who are originally from here. But this is the first impression I have got about Bangalore - Garden city as well as the city of thieves. The day when I joined my new company, I heard about the burglary of a mobile of one of my colleague. The incident goes like this. My colleague forgot to take her mobile to a meeting and left it on her office desk. When she was back, the mobile was long gone. I appreciate her for fighting with all her efforts and finally she got her mobile back after a series of incidents. I am not going in to the details of it [as I am not allowed to do so].
While discussing this incident with another of my colleague, he told me about what happened to him. A woman came to his apartment and introduced that she will clean the house. He went inside for a second opinion from another guy who is staying there. By the time he got back, she was gone along with his wallet. He somehow traced her to a street and even before he could talk to her, the locals rammed the place and he literally had to flee. So the next whole week he was really busy, calling all the credit/debit card companies to block them.
Okay, those are two incidents of theft which happened to my colleagues. These were the hot news of discussion among us for the first week I landed here. Then I heard many similar incidents for which I cannot submit any proof.
Even if you cannot call theft in the direct sense, what else can you call what the auto-rikshaw drivers are doing here? How can you logically resolve what has happened to you when you have to pay Rs 20/- and Rs 60/- for the same route and same distance to two different auto-riksaw drivers? They all think they are above the law. At the same time, the public transportation system here is really pathetic. Even to travel a distance of 1-2kms, it may take from half to one hour at peak times of traffic.
Leave the auto-rikshaw drivers. I once went to a furniture mart to buy a couple of chairs. The person there immediately showed me and my friend a printed chart of the prices of some brands and models of chairs. After some time bargaining he went inside the shop and produced the catalogue showing the detailed pictures of the chairs. First we thought what he saying was correct. Later only we inspected the catalogue with the actual chairs models there and we really got surprised to see that that price in that printed sheet was well below what he told us. Around Re100-200/- margin was there.
Or, take the case of BSNL. I gave application for a BSNL broadband connection on September 9th, 2007. They assured me that I will get it with in one week. Now its almost 2 months and I am still waiting. You can read the detailed story about it in my other blog. I even had to start a trilogy to explain the whole stuff.
Is there any means to book people like these? What do I have to do? File a complaint in the police station? I don’t think that will help in anyway. I can narrate a number of incidents like these. I think its time we need to act. But how, I don’t know.

A game worth spending half your life for!

Imagine an ordinary day, just like any other day, you going to your office, you greet your colleagues, go through the routines, go to your place, start working and all of a sudden something go wrong and you become unconscious. And you wake up after some time only to know that the whole world has changed. What if you find aliens crawling all over your office? The situation gets worse when you find most of your colleagues, dead. And you try to escape the mess fighting through the aliens with a crowbar and finds that the US soldiers are chasing you. Sounds funny? Well that’s what happened to Dr. Gordon Freeman, Ph. D holder in Theoretical Physics from MIT, not some special ops team or a superhuman.
Caution: Spoilers ahead. I haven't written everything I wanted to write due to lack of space.
Well to have a basic picture of him, just have a look at the title of his thesis, “Observation of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Entanglement on Supra-quantum Structures by Induction Through Nonlinear Transuranic Crystal of Extremely Long Wavelength (ELW) Pulse from Mode-Locked Source Array”, in English, teleportation of matter through extremely dense elements. What else can you expect from an MIT Ph.D holder? But don’t think he is one of those old, conventional, light tempered, professors or scientists. He is only 27, handsome, has got a goatee, and is quite athletic. Too young for a scientist, you think? But he is much more than that.
It was just another day for him. He boarded the tram which took him to the Anomalous Materials Department where he was assigned, which was deeply buried in the Top Secret Black Mesa Research facility located somewhere in New Mexico. He greeted his colleagues, put on his special HEV suit and went to the Sector C Test labs, Test Chamber C-33/a. He started by pushing a crystalline specimen into the beam of overcharged antimatter which changed his and everyone’s life forever. That triggered something, up on which Dr. Freeman got unconscious. By the time he comes back to his senses, it was too late for anything. The world, as he/we knew, seized to exist.
There were aliens, both small and big, all over the facility. The experiment, which went severely wrong, triggered something known as a resonance cascade which ruptured the space-time continuum, opened portals from border world of Xen which teleported alien life forms, both intelligent and wildlife, to Black Mesa. As everyone would have done, he tried to escape to the surface as soon as possible. In order to do that, he had to go through a series of duct and air vents, fighting the aliens. But he reached the surface only to find that the very people he thought would help him, trying to hunt him down. Yeah, the government had sent specially trained black ops to shut the facility down, by killing anything which is moving there and nuke the facility as part of their cover up. Now Dr. Freeman has 2 enemies, the aliens and the army and to survive, he had to show exceptional skill with the advanced weaponry, both human and alien ones. Finally he managed to launch a geostationary satellite which is supposed to close all the inter-planetary portals. And guess what, he even had to teleport himself to the border world of Xen and kill the alien leader.
You think the story is over? It is just a beginning dear reader. Instead of winning his freedom, Dr. Freeman has been put in to a time wrap [something like a hyper sleep] by someone [or something] which is a humanoid. No one knows what is he/it actually and is called the G-man. And by the time he woke up, earth was completely changed. Most of the nations of earth were destroyed and the remaining cities were numbered like City 1, City 2 etc. The humans were enslaved. And he returned to city 17 where the huge alien base named the Citadel located. Again, our protagonist managed to over come all the alien resistance and broke in to the citadel, destroyed it and stopped Dr. Breen, the human who helped the aliens to do all this. And here also the story doesn’t end. Our hero, Dr. Freeman, who started as a theoretical physics doctorate holder in some research facility transformed to a soldier, who successfully resisted the aliens and the black ops, has turned a legend by now. One who gave hope to the people of earth against the alien exploitation. He has got all the support from civilians of earth who even formed a rebel group. They even made the symbol in his HEV suit - the Greek alphabet, Lambda - their logo. Interesting uh?
Well, you may have guessed it right. This is the story of the computer game, named Half life. I guess they gave the name in relation to the half life of radio active materials. But I will say, it is surely a game worth playing, even if it means you have to wait half your life for it. It’s not just my opinion, look what the game has got, over 50 Game of the Year awards, including Overall Game of the Year at IGN, GameSpot's Award for Best Shooter, GameSpot's Reader's Choice - PC Game of the Year Award, Game of the Year from The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and "Best Game" with the Game Developers Choice Awards, where it was also given various awards for technology, characters, and writing. The game also had a strong showing at the 2004 BAFTA Games Awards, picking up six awards, more than any other game that night, with awards including "Best Game" and "Best Online Game". So, why are you waiting for? Grab a copy of Half-life now itself and start shooting…