Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jumbled newspaper

i had not planned it that way.
this morning, i started reading a newspaper [sundays are the leanest days in terms of newspapers @ home, as we get only 2 papers, compared to 3 during the week and 3 or 4 on saturdays, depending on the mood of the newspaper boy].
i had to step out for something, and when i got back the news papers were all jumbled up - not left in any order, by others who read the papers.
so, i read paper 1: main, followed by paper 2: sunday supplement 1; paper 2 sunday supplement 2; paper 1 supplement 2 and paper 2 main.

since each section was anyway independent, it was ok.
but, for some of the news items that were duplicated - found that the reports were very different.
or, the relative importance assigned to the reports in terms of prominence or location also varies from paper to paper.

i used to think that this was the characteristic or the character of the paper and the editorial policies.
but, of late, whether it is the TV channels or the print media, the 'advertorials' or 'placed' news and paid-news seems to be more the norm.

even the relatively conservative paper, Hindu, has prominent ads on the main page.
[nothing to beat the Times, for the launch of, when the complete front page was taken up [though the traditional first page was actually page 3!].
i suppose it is the pressure of profits - or possibly survival - that is pushing the media to resort to any-way-to-make-more-profit tactics.

to some extent, this competition is also pushing the print newspapers to be the same as their peers - in terms of the format - and, at the same time, be different enough to push those differences as their USPs.

with all this, another aspect that seems to have undergone significant change is the reporting style and also the background / profile of the reporters.
columns that were earlier associated only with seasoned and long-standing reporters are making way for more investigative reporting and sting operations taken up by much younger professionals.

some publishing houses have also started diversifying or extending their 'product portfolio' with news papers targeted at different segments, including tabloid formats from the earlier traditional or business news papers.

with all this, i am not sure how much of what we read or see / hear is really 'news' anymore. so, i guess i could jumble the morning papers and even mix and match pages and still not miss any story significantly.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

crane-ial stuff

one of the recent forwards in an egroup was the story of an Indian crane operator, Babu Sassi.
while that seems to be a hoax - per the hoax slayer, it led me to look more closely at the construction cranes that seem to surround our building.
one HUGE concrete tower of residences that are coming up on a reclaimed land [which had drain water flowing in that area and landfilled over the last few years.. and two commercial complexes - one a hypermarket and another a five or seven star hotel to be operated by the Taj group, adjacent to a bowling alley, multiplex cinema halls and an ice-skating rink!
i have been watching the construction progress over the last few months.
the first glimpse of the crane - which i later came to know as a tower crane - was what appeared to be scaffolding and a 'helicopter cockpit'.
i wanted to see it put together, but unfortunately, that happened when i was travelling one week.

last week, i suddenly noticed that the crane had grown taller! it seemed to have risen with the construction - having completed the concrete work for 5 basement levels of parking and slowly rising over the ground level.

after some web research i found that it was a self-erecting crane! neat concept of bootstrapping applied to a practical problem.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

whether weather is an interesting topic..

with the warmest days of the year in Bangalore, it difficult not to complain of the weather.
as everyone is eagerly anticipating the refreshing evening showers to set in - to cool the dry, hot day temperatures, i chose to dedicate this post to the weather.

many years ago, when one of my classmates in B.Sc., decided to go to the US after graduating in Physics, to pursue studies in meteorology - many of us used to pull his leg that all he would need is a set of standard predictions and just mix them all together with some probabilities - and some part of it would be true every day.

in one sense, we also used to tell him that he should take a parrot with him - since computers were still not that common - to model his predictions along the lines of the street parrot soothsayers.

my ideas of the weatherman - or the weathergirl - made popular by the TV channels, and the profession have significantly changed since then.

from Dr Karmarkar's model for predicting the Indian monsoon, to the detailed reports of Vinson Kurian in the business line newspaper, i am starting to get more intimate with the weather systems around us!
yes, the reports talk of systems and with names for the cyclones and treat them as individuals with their own behaviours,
the reports talk of these systems or names moving across, having to resist opposition or be influenced by other emerging phenomena - sprinkled with acronyms such as IMD, ECMWF, MJO etc.

i also found it interesting that the India meteorological department has so much of information available for free and near real time. another company skymet, has made a business of analyzing and providing weather data feeds and a few of the leading newspapers and TV channels depend on their feeds.

such analysis are also available in specific contexts - such as  Media, Agriculture, Insurance, Shipping, power etc.

so, talking about the weather is not just a social pastime, as it is supposed to be in the U.K.
one of my friends, while talking about the ever changing weather in London, said - if you do not like the weather in London, just wait a minute! [hoping that it would change so quickly].

talking of weather - a friend, when asked why he does not exercise regularly, blamed it on the w(h)e[a]ther. he said that he would exercise based on whether he felt like it when he got up in the morning! and most of the days, felt lazy to get out of bed. he was in Seattle, where most of the year, one can see only cloudy or rainy days!

the next couple of months, i have one more serial to track  - the monsoon watch on TV and the newspapers.