Archive for the 'My Writing Life' Category

That BIG thing

I’m now published at Inkling Magazine and that‘s the big thing of mine.  Inkling Magazine’s motto is: On the HUNCH that science rocks.  You pretty much know what that article of mine is all about – at least globally.

Titled, A Rose by Any Other Name Would Look as Red, the article explains how the human brain seems to calibrate colour vision against a standard, making up for differences in eye hardware.  In simpler terms, although your eyes and my eyes are different, we all see the same colours.  Or do we? Actually, our brains decide how we perceive colours.

Every person is different. Take my neighbor, for example. He has amazingly selective hearing. When his two dogs start to bark madly at 2 a.m, he is undisturbed, whereas I fall out of bed thinking that the Death-Eaters are attacking my house. Maybe his eyesight is different too. That would explain why he waters his lawn every single day, even though it looks pretty green to me. Which makes me wonder: Does he see colors differently than I do? Could our eyes be telling us different stories? 

In this lawn-watering example, the answer seems to be no. Barring color blindness, no matter how different our individual eyes may be, our brains ensure that we experience colors in the same way, according to a group of ground-breaking studies in the past decade. But those rules can change when we start mucking with vision – through colored contact lenses or even changing latitudes. But seeing as my neighbor hasn’t been on any far-fetched vacations nor does he have a fondness for red sunglasses, I can only assume that he just likes wasting water.

I took more than a week (four drafts) to come up with a decent article.  Big thanks to Anna Gosline, who edited this article and really guided me through the process.  She stuck up with me and proved to be an awesome mentor, having been a writer for New Scientist herself.  Without her support, I would never have been able to get this published.  Also, many thanks have to go to my dad for his support and suggestions.

I also have my very own profile at Inkling – with a couple of embarrassing photos – and I’m very proud about that.  I’m also proud about the fact that for the first time ever, I read actual scientific papers from scientific journals!

All in all, I’m really happy about this.

Note: This is probably the last decent post in this blog.  I’ll obviously tell you when I’ve migrated the blog to start it back from scratch.  Already working on it.  So, farewell!

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Moving/Hiatus

This blog is undergoing a big redesign so posts may well be kind of scarce or non-existant for some time.  I am also thinking about moving the blog from wordpress to Movable Type or maybe TypePad.  (Yeah, I know.  I’ll have to pay.)

It’s just that I’ll be at home for the next six months or so and I’ll be writing a lot during that time.  Hell, I already am writing a lot! I want to take this blog to a next level.  I want this blog to showcase my personality more and i want it to become more of a “chronicles of my life” rather than a just bunch of links.

Ultimately, I want this blog to host my writing and enable people to know about my way of seeing things and my interests.  Indeed, the blog may well become a way to market/promote my skill.

Till, then, I guess this blog is on hiatus.

UPDATE: There may be a post on Wednesday night or Thursday morning though.  About that big thing of mine.

My hols part 2

[Listening to: Belle, Fiori/Garou…, Notre Dame de Paris]

After the family was back to work and school, my holidays actually started.  Or did they? I had university application forms to fill and my CV to complete, amongst others.  Loads of stress.

The simple matter of writing a CV proved really tough.  I never even saw one before but thankfully my mum offered some help.  Dad then polished it and I’m proud to say that I now have a full two-pages CV, one of them entirely dedicated to a list of my published articles.

Dad thought I should be a little more ambitious with the university applications.  He thought it would be much better if I included my CV, some testimonials, things that I would be doing during my sabbatical and a sample of my published articles.  I must say that I was totally for this but, hell, it was a lot of work.

In the end, I had a (five copies actually) binded document and just to give you an idea of how enormous (relative) it was, I paid MUR700 to send it, through the Mauritius Post, to Australia.

As mentioned above, there are things I’m doing during my sabbatical, before enrolling to university in June this year.  I’m getting involved in some social work with an NGO called SOS Poverty, which basically helps needy inhabitants of Vallee Pitot, Port Louis.  I also started violin and I’m learning Solfege in the process.  But what’s really exciting is that I have commenced a distance-learning Internet Journalism course from The London School of Journalism.

It’s really cool.  I submitted by first assignment last week and I actually received a reply from my tutor today itself.  The first assignment was more of an introduce-yourself one and the tutor thought it was good work.  So far, so good.

[Listening to: Last Christmas, Wham, George Micheal]

In the same vein, I am concentrating on my writing quite a lot.  I think I mentioned this before but I’m up to something big.  If all goes well, I’ll be able to tell you everything by this Thursday.  It’s really an important thing for me.

On a side note, I am downloading episodes after episodes of The Office.  And now I only have 200Mb of free space on my hard disk! What am I going to do??

And, oh, I’m happy right now.

[Listening to: Teardrop, – , Portishead & Massive Attack]

Some weird science and a column

December 25th seems to be a very strange day to publish a column: that’s why I published the latest Not Scientific Science on Christmas day.  It’s always cool to do something out of the ordinary from time to time.  And as senior columnist over at backwash, I have the opportunity to share my geekiness with all those great people on the net.

The year’s last article on Not Scientific Science is “Artificial Meat.”  Basically it’s all about the mass production of cultured/artificial meat in laboratory for proper human consumption.

“With a single cell, you could theoretically produce the world’s annual meat supply. And you could do it in a a way that’s better for the environment and human health. In the long term, this is a feasible idea.”
– Jason Matheny, University of Maryland doctoral student.

[…]

Artificial meat is a decent idea; it clearly has its advantages. For one, the nutrients in the meat can be controlled. For example, most meats contain much Omega 6, which can cause high cholesterol. With artificial meat, the Omega 6 can be converted into Omega 3, which is a healthy fat. Another advantage of artificial meat is that it could reduce the pollution that results from raising livestock.

However the obvious benefit of artificial meat is that it can help match the ever-increasing demand of meat around the world. Along the same vein, one may even fantasise that artificial meat may, one day, help in alleviating famine in some countries.

When I wrote this article, I didn’t particularly enjoy the final product.  But after some editing, I have to say that I’m quite satisfied with it.

Concerning weird science again, I stumbled upon an article on the web about geckoes.  Apparently, femaly geckoes do not need sex to reproduce! The link is over here, posted at backwash.  And from a fellow columnist (and reader) over at backwash, I got to know that female komodo dragons are also doing the same thing.

Seems like the females really don’t need us, males, any longer.  Kind of frightening.  No sex though.  Umm… boring life?

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Poetry Thursday (My week 19.0)

Chant L’Amour (Eng: Sing about love)

by Joseph Reginald Topize aka KAYA

Mo rapel kan mo ti zenfant
Mo enseignant ti fini so letemp
Pou fer mwa komprend tousa ki emba loa

Mo ti vive dans siperstition
Etourer ek tou sa ki fer moi peur
Pou mo liberter zotte ki ti decider

La mo ena ene chance fine ouvert ek ene lalimiere
Mo koumense geutter ki frekentation ki mo ena
Mo ena ene chance fine ouvert ek so lintelligence
Mo lavie pieger telment li precier
La mo ena ene chance fine ouvert ek ene lalimiere
La mo pou dire zotte ki mo resenti

Bizin kozer laveriter zenesse
Nou fami ki ti la pa ti lai tender
Kommien fine mort ti p bizin lasagesse

Tou letemp ine regete sa ki bon
Tou nou lavie ti fini dan lahaine
Mo p chante lamour pou nou gagne liberter


Photo courtesy: Jahmusik.net


English translation

I remember when I was a child
My teacher took a lot of time
To teach me things that didn’t make sense.

I lived in superstition
Entagled in everything I’m afraid of
It was them which dictated my freedom.

Now I have an opportunity and a light
I start to care about the influences around me
I have an opportunity and intelligence
My life is in a fix because it so precious
Now I have an opportunity and a light
Now I will tell you how I feel.

Tell the truth, youngsters
The families which were there refused to listen
The many who died need intelligence.

We always rejected what was good
All of our lives ended in hatred
I am singing about love so that we earn our freedom.

Note:

  • KAYA is a Mauritian and is considered as the father of Seggae, a type of music close to Sega, in the country.  He wrote in Creole, the people’s language.  KAYA always sang from his heart and his songs are marvellous.  His voice is exceptionally full of emotions.  He died in February 1999 in a police cell and all facts point towards police brutality.

    RIP.

  • I did the translation and it’s not as excellent as the original Creole version.  If you understand Creole and you think you can better translate some verses, please let me know.
  • Check out Poetry Thursday and cry your heart out every Thursdays. The concept is simple: share poetry on your blog.

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Poetry Thursday (My week 18.0)

King of Nature

by Khalil A. Cassimally

The butterflies fly for him
The flame tree protects him
The lake caresses him
King of nature, they all implore you.

Thunder delivers your message
Lightning holds you
Rain washes their sins
King of nature, they are at your command.

Control and be controlled
Animals and plants speak to thee
Your kingdom smiles at you
Only humans are too naive

Note:

  • Doesn’t seem like a complete poem, does it? I suppose, it isn’t one actually.  I’m thinking of the’sequel!’
  • Check out Poetry Thursday and cry your heart out every Thursdays. The concept is simple: share poetry on your blog.

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My Amnesty International experience part2

Note: Still one year ago.

Could not make out that one, sorry.  The demonstration was guarded by some policemen and it was all too obvious to hear Ziyad eventually bellowing this below message, some time after the demonstration had began:
“Non a la brutalite policiere!”

When the group made it to Plaza, in Rose Hill, some pictures were taken featuring all of the demonstrators and the handmade banners.  Remaining, was the final step to destination: St. Andrews College.  Personally, my legs were not tired but my vocal box was.  By that time my voice was completely hoarse.

We arrived at destination at about half past twelve and headed towards St. Andrews College’s hall/conference room, where all the demonstrators took seat.  On the podium, were seated some representatives of the NPOs that had participated in the demonstration as well.  No sign of politicians at first although this was soon resolved by the late arrival of the honourable mayor of Beau Bassin/Rose Hill.

The most popular guest however was without any doubt, Menwar, the sega singer.  He sang one really appropriate piece for the Human Right Day.  [Writer’s note: I forgot the song actually]

Up till that point my main aim for the day, was to have fun and try to know a little more about human right and Amnesty International in general.  However when I heard Menwar’s song and the other personalities (except one) talk on the podium, I realised that I did not know much about human right at all.

I am 17 and I was not aware of my own rights.  Suddenly that appeared to be just so, well, bad.  Why aren’t such things taught in school? Okay, it is probably important to know from which country the now near-defunt tea plants planted in Mauritius come from but it is equally (if not more) momentous to teach children their rights.

During the time we spent in St. Andrews – did I say we had pizza for lunch there – I got to know some my rights and I’m sure this is the case for many others as well.  When the honourable mayor informed us of his future plans for us, youngsters, who was listening to him? No seriously.  We are grateful that you think about us – especially now that most of us will be going to the polls for the next election – but between you and me, honourable mayor, every politician bore us with their promises.  We sincerely hope that you will establish your plans and we really want to see things done.  Citizenship Studies in primary schools does not seem to be a bad idea.  It would be so much more interesting if you had informed us of your plans to do so.  But maybe, you don’t have so much as a plan for this.  Children need to know their rights!

And that’s what Amnesty International is all about, isn’t it? To strive for a better world, unite behind people in need and inform people of their rights.  My 10th December began as my eagerness to participate in a demonstration, whatever it was about.  It ended in me knowing my rights and realising that there is an organisation out there, which is lobbying for people wrongly accused (politics stinks sometimes) and working hard to inform people of basic things, like their own rights.

Hats off, Amnesty International.

The first seven articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the United Nations.
Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

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What’s up in my life?

1. Best friends: I love you people.
2. My own company: sky media
3. Science is so very cool
4. 6 month sabbatical.

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Khalil A. Cassimally’s blog