What’s up, OLPC?

At the intersection of high-tech gadgets and public spending on education in poor countries lies XO, the machine from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project led by Nicholas Negroponte. I have been a critic of the program right from the start. I have argued before that the idea of providing one laptop per child is well and good if money were no object. Unfortunately, in resource-strapped economies such as India, the opportunity cost of providing school children with laptops is prohibitive.
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Hubble’s Universe is Beautiful

HUBBLESITE . . . Out of the ordinary, out of this world” has pictures. I could spend days checking them out and indeed I have. I am sharing a small collection from there: “Astronomers Select Top Ten Most Amazing Pictures Taken by Hubble Space Telescope in Last 16 Years.”

Here are the pictures. The text associated with them is from Nov 2006 article by Michael Hanlon of the Daily Mail.

au_01_sombrero
The Sombrero Galaxy – 28 million light years from Earth – was voted best picture taken by the Hubble telescope. The dimensions of the galaxy, officially called M104, are as spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000 light years across.
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Not the News

I get to watch TV news only occasionally, mostly at airports, hotels and while visiting friends. Today at my friend’s place in Delhi, I woke up to TV news. It was wall-to-wall coverage of Dr Manmohan Singh’s heart surgery and the gunning down of two Pakistani terrorists just outside Delhi.

On the 24-hour news channels, the presenters have to keep talking non-stop about whatever is the breaking news. Naturally, it is humanly not possible to say something meaningful about any event without some time to think about it. So the need to keep talking incessantly about an event which can only be described in a few words results in verbal diarrhea. There is so little content in the story being told that the TV screen has to be filled with all sorts of other items: there are two or three lines of scrolling texts relating to different issues, some totally meaningless video occupying part of the screen, another part of the screen given to some advertisement, etc.
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