23 October 2013

The good, the bad and the ugly: 23-Oct-2013

The Good: Does money grow on trees?
While growing up in hard times of the 70s, my father had a stock rhetorical question every time I asked him of money to buy something.
"Does money grow on trees?"
There was no concept of pocket money and stuff those days. Every expense has to be approved by my father and he was, to put it mildly, stingy.
So I grew up thinking that money doesn't grow on trees. That is, till I saw this news item.
Australian Scientists find Gold in the leaves of Eucaliptus Trees
This incident happened in the jungles of Kalgoorlie (Remember the Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, from your 9th grade Geography classes? They were the mineral rich region of Australia). Scientist investigating the Eucalyptus trees found traces of gold in the eucalyptus leaves. They attributed it to the fact that the Eucalyptus roots have gone about 30 meters deep inside the earth in search of water and have sucked up the gold which was lying underground. The gold has been sucked up by the roots and since gold is harmful to the plant, the ejection process has moved the same to the leaves which when falls will eject the gold along with it.
The process of identifying mineral deposits by analysing the trees and plants is called 'Biogeochemical Sampling'.
I am sure my father will change his views after this.
Fascinating. Read on for more...
USA is a peculiar country. This is the only developed country where people are free to carry guns wherever, whenever. The other countries with similar freedom are all in the 'Underdeveloped' group - those in Indian Subcontinent or in some African countries.
And even those countries have laws that ban carrying weapons of destruction. 
Many of the possessors of guns are children or young adults. There has been series of gun violence incidents in the US, but the government does not (is not able to) do anything. People are proud of their guns, of flaunting it, very happy with the power that a gun provides to them...
Every few days, we here cases of gun violence. Many of them are in the schools. Kids bring the guns, sometimes as a prestige issue or sometimes because of their psychological issues. While people try to provide a number of intellectual arguments in favor or against gun violence, the simple fact is ignored by many. More the availability of Guns, the more the chances of Gun Violence.
This has become such tragic situation that a gun violence incident has become just another statistic. The shooting at a Nevada middle school has to be seen in this perspective. A boy brings a gun to the school. He is supposedly bullied by some kids and he takes a gun and shoots one of the kids in the shoulder. The math teacher in a school, a decorated US Marine, who had done duties in Afghanistan, intervenes. He asks the kid to hand over the gun. The kid shoots the teacher fatally in the chest, shoots another child in the abdomen and finally shoots himself in the head and kills himself.
The sane response to this incident should be to analyse the conditions under which the gun reached the hands of the youngster and make legal intervention to ensure that such situations are stopped from recurring. But that is in any country other than USA.
In USA the analysis will focus on why the teacher did not have guns. The Pro-gun lobby will come up with arguments that 'the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun'. The argument will be that had the teacher had gun with him, he could have probably killed the kid.
As if it is so easy..
If he had killed the kid, the teacher would not have been able to sleep peacefully at night. Ever.
The 'bad guys' are becoming younger and younger.
The whole thing makes very very sad reading. Hope good sense prevails in US.

The Ugly: Teenage girl raped and then set afire.
A young girl near Lucknow in UP, who went out to toilet at night time was raped by three local boys. When the girl threatened to inform elders, they poured Kerosene on her and set her on fire. She died in the hospital.
This story is sad at three levels. In the first level, it is saddening that many people in India still do not have access to basic sanitation and have to use open spaces for their basic hygienic purposes. In the second level she was raped and in the final level, she was set on fire and died.
There are somethings in India, that should go away on a yesterday basis.
One is corruption
Two is rape
Rape is easy to handle. Catch them quickly and give the rapists exemplary punishment. The punishment should be severe enough to warn potential rapists and swift enough to link the crime to the punishment.
The most important long term solution is education and employment opportunities for the youth of the country.
In the meantime catch these three rapists and castrate them as a first step...

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