Tag Archives: LONDON

How to Create Your Very Own Anecdote for APJ Abdul Kalam!


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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I received the following story titled “Funny side of Swami Vivekananda” through WhatsApp.

When Swami Vivekanand was studying law at the University College, London, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely.

One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room when Vivekananda came along with his tray and sat next to the professor.

The professor said, “Mr. Vivekanand, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”

Vivekanandji looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.

Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge.

The next day in class he posed the following question: “Mr. Vivekanand, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with money, which one would you take ?”

Without hesitating, Vivekanandji responded, “The one with the money, of course.”

Mr. Peters , smiling sarcastically said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.”

Swami Vivekanand shrugged and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Mr. Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Swami Vivekanand’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and gave it to Swami Vivekanand.

Vivekanandji took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.

A few minutes later, Swami Vivekanand got up, went to the professor and told him in a dignified polite tone, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”

Moral: Don’t mess with intelligent people.

When I read this anecdote I smelled a rat.

Though Swami Vivekananda visited England twice, he never studied in London.

First of all, Narendranath Datta took the name “Swami Vivekananda” on Christmas Eve of 1886, when he and eight other disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took formal monastic vows and decided to live their lives as their master lived. 

Then I checked the timeline of important events in the life of Swami Vivekananda.

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Swami Vivekananda (Source: patrika.com)
Swami Vivekananda (Source: patrika.com)

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Vivekananda (born Narendranath Datta), after passing the Matriculation Entrance examination in 1879, joined Presidency College in January 1880. He was the only student to receive first-division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination.

In 1881, he passed the FA examination (equivalent to the current Higher Secondary, Class XII) from the General Assembly’s Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College).

One day, Professor William Hastie explaining the word “trance” to his students suggested that they should visit Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Dakshineswar to understand the true meaning of trance. In November 1881, Vivekananda met Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa for the first time in Calcutta, at the residences of Surendranath Mitra.

In January 1884, Vivekananda passed Bachelor of Arts examination from the General Assembly’s Institution with philosophy and logic as subjects.

Vivekananda’s father died on February 25, 1884, and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa became his spiritual focus.

So, we find that Narendranath Datta never studied in London.

I remember coming across earlier the same turn of events mentioned above in an anonymous anecdote with M. K. Gandhi as the vanquisher of Professor Peters.

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Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

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Here is the anonymous anecdote using Gandhi as the superstar published under the title “Did Gandhi trump Professor Peters in a number of interactions?” in the Skeptics Stack Exchange, a question and answer site for scientific skepticism.

When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, there was a professor, whose last name was Peters, who felt animosity for Gandhi, and because Gandhi never lowered his head towards him, their “arguments” were very common.

One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor, in his arrogance, said, “Mr Gandhi: you do not understand… a pig and a bird do not sit together to eat,” to which Gandhi replies, “You do not worry professor, I’ll fly away, ” and he went and sat at another table.

Mr. Peters, green of rage, decides to take revenge on the next test, but Gandhi responds brilliantly to all questions. Then, Mr. Peters asked him the following question, “Mr Gandhi, if you are walking down the street and find a package, and within it there is a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money; which one will you take?”

Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “the one with the money, of course.”

Mr. Peters, smiling, said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom, don’t you think?”

“Each one takes what one doesn’t have,” responded Gandhi indifferently.

Mr. Peters, already hysteric, writes on the exam sheet the word “idiot” and gives it to Gandhi. Gandhi takes the exam sheet and sits down. A few minutes later, Gandhi goes to the professor and says, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”

I came across a comment that said: “Story is about Mr. Jinnah. Someone has switched the mainstay to Gandhi“.

So, if you are computer savvy, you can copy the above anecdote to notepad. Then press Ctrl-H.

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Change Ganhi to Abdul Kalam

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In the resulting dialog box enter against “Find what:” Gandhi and against “Replace with:” Abdul Kalam. Next press button. In the blink of an eye, all instances of “Gandhi” will be transformed into “Abdul Kalam” and you would have created a new anecdote for Abdul Kalam.

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Dr. .APJ.ABDUL KALAM
APJ Abdul Kalam

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Post the anecdote you created about Abdul Kalam on Facebook. Instantly you will get thousands of likes, and hundreds of witless idiots will blindly copy your post and propagate it on Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media creating a new episode in the life of APJ Abdul Kalam.

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The Five Days of December 1952 When the Killer Smog Blanketed London.


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Smokestack belching dense dark smoke.
Smokestack belching dense dark smoke.

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The modern fight against environmental pollution around the world owes much to the tragedy that befell Greater London, about 63 years ago. The haphazard use of coal brought the country to the brink of a frightening black disaster on December 5, 1952.

During the Industrial Revolution, from about 1760 to around 1840, there was a transition to new manufacturing processes. The main factor in this transition was the change from wood and other biofuels to coal.

Indiscriminate use of coal drove Britain, the most powerful empire in the world. Tall smokestacks became the symbols of the industrial age in Britain. The appalling use of coal in industries, for generating electricity, heating homes, for cooking, etc., was frightening. Trains, boats, iron, steel, everyday items used coal. In London, it was like millions of micro-volcanoes erupting all at once. It was as if London was eating coal to survive.

People were burning large quantities of poor quality coal and emitting pollution at low elevations. The pollution from home chimneys was double the amount of the industries.

In the Victorian era, London was well known for its romantic fog that covered the city for 90 days each year for decades. But as the years passed by, this romantic fog and the smoke and fog turned into a poisonous cloud of smog (smoky fog) during each winter. In his book “Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18591930) wrote:

In the third week of November, in the year 1895, a dense yellow fog settled down upon London. From the Monday to the Thursday I doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in Baker Street to see the loom of the opposite houses. … But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the windowpanes, my comrade’s impatient and active nature could endure this drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our sitting- room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping the furniture, and chafing against inaction.

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A view of Battersea Power Station in 2012 from River Thames.
A view of Battersea Power Station in 2012 from River Thames.

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Construction of the first phase, the A Station of the Battersea Power Station, began in March 1929. It first generated electricity in 1933, but was not completed until 1935. The total cost of its construction was £2,141,550. It burned approximately 10,000 tons of coal each week to supply one fifth of the electricity for the entire city of London.

Washing off the accumulated soot in London.
Washing off the accumulated soot in London.

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Slowly, with time, London became completely covered in soot.

In late 1952 an unusual cold cinch had gripped London for weeks. On December 5, 1952, the day the disaster began, Londoners awoke to find a clear sky, but coal fireplaces worked overtime to fight the chill in the air. As the day progressed, a light veil of fog began to blanket the city. In the afternoon, the fog mixed with the thousands of tons of soot being pumped into the skies of London by million or more coal stoves, home chimneys, from local factories and industrial smokestacks began to turn a sickly shade of yellow and settled in the London basin.

Smog was nothing new for Londoners, but on that day, this thick sulfurous yellow “pea souper” quickly thickened into a poisonous brew, unlike anything the city had ever experienced before. A high-pressure system parked over London caused a temperature inversion. The air about a thousand feet above the surface, warmer than that at ground level kept the smog under the clouds and prevented it from rising. And, there was no breeze to disperse and dissipate the soot-laden soup.

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The Killer Smog That Blanketed London, 63 Years Ago (Source: history.com)
The Killer Smog That Blanketed London, 63 Years Ago (Source: history.com)

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For five days from Friday, December 5 to Tuesday, December 9, 1952, the Great Smog paralyzed life in London. Poisonous smog closed down all establishments.  Day became as dark as night.

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People found it difficult to breathe the murky air.
People found it difficult to breathe the murky air.

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People found it difficult to breathe the murky air. The smog was so dense that residents of the Isle of Dogs section of the city reported they were unable to see their feet as they walked. It was as if they needed a blind person to lead them home.

The dense smog crippled all transportation. Boat traffic on the Thames came to a halt. Bus conductors holding flashlights and torches walked in front of the double-deckers to guide drivers. Flights were grounded, and trains canceled. Only the Underground was in service.

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The ambulance drivers had to rely on the police and people holding live burning torches s to show them the way.
The ambulance drivers had to rely on the police and people holding live burning torches s to show them the way.

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London was completely silent. Only sirens of ambulances which brought those whose lives were in danger to the hospitals was heard. The ambulance drivers had to rely on the police and people holding live burning torches to show them the way.

Even at mid-noon, automobile drivers and motorcyclists turned on their headlights. They hung their heads out the windows in a futile attempt to inch ahead through the yellow gloom. Many abandoned their vehicles.

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Traffic police used large lamps to light themselves up to avoid getting hit by vehicles.
Traffic police used large lamps to light themselves up to avoid getting hit by vehicles.

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Traffic police used large lamps to light themselves up to avoid getting hit by vehicles.

A greasy grime covered exposed surfaces. Pedestrians with their faces and noses blackened by the smog tried not to slip on the greasy black ooze that coated the sidewalks.

People wore face masks to go to shopping, to walk their dogs. Students wore face masks to go to school.

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People wore face masks even to kiss.
People wore face masks even to kiss.

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People wore face masks even to kiss.

Fearing the children might get lost in the smog, authorities advised parents not to send their children to school.

Fearing the children might get lost in the smog, authorities advised parents not to send their children to school.

Criminals emboldened by the thick dark smog resorted to purse snatching and burglaries and then vanished into the cloaking darkness.

Birds lost in the fog crashed into buildings.

Breeders fashioned improvised gas masks for their cattle by soaking grain sacks in whiskey. Eleven prize heifers brought to Earls Court for the famed Smithfield Show choked to death.

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All weekend soccer matches were canceled.
All weekend soccer matches were canceled.

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All weekend soccer matches were canceled. However, Oxford and Cambridge carried on with their annual cross-country competition at Wimbledon Common. As runners materialized out of the thick haze, the track marshals shouted continually, “This way, this way, Oxford and Cambridge.”

Since the smog seeped even inside closed buildings, movie theaters closed down as the yellow haze made it impossible for the audience to see the screen. The opera houses too put up their shutters as the audience could no longer see the performers on the stage due to the acrid smog.

The unparalleled admissions to hospitals and the great number of pneumonia reports overwhelmed the medical authorities.

Sadly, the Great Smog was not only a nuisance, it was also lethal for those with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, the elderly, the babies and the infants. Amidst coughing and the wheezing, death came silently to London. The smog literally choked thousands to death. Deaths from bronchitis and pneumonia increased more than seven-fold and the death rate in the East End increased ninefold.

Eventually, the siege abated on December 9, 1952, when cold winds from the west swept the toxic smog away from London and carried out to the North Sea. Yet, the detrimental effects lingered on, and death rates remained above normal into the summer.

Initial reports estimated that upwards of 4,000 died prematurely in the first week of the Great Smog. The mortality rate remained high for a couple of months after the Great Smog. People realized the impact of the deadly Smog when the undertakers ran out of caskets and the florists out of flowers and bouquets.

There were 12,000 unexplained deaths and additional deaths during the episode and in the two months after the abatement of the peak smog.

A preliminary report not finalized yet attributed these later deaths to an influenza epidemic. New evidence shows that only a fraction of the deaths could be from influenza.

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The lungs of the dead confirmed that they died due to prolonged exposure to black carbon.
The lungs of the dead confirmed that they died due to prolonged exposure to black carbon.

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Thorough examinations of the lungs of the dead confirmed that they died due to prolonged exposure to black carbon, a byproduct of burning coal and a short-term overexposure to a high concentration of fine particulate matter containing heavy metals.

Initially, the British government was reluctant to act in the wake of the Great Smog.

The Coalition for Clean Air calculated the concentration of pollution in London at the time. They concluded that it might have surpassed the current pollution in China by a large margin even though PM2.5 was not measured at the time. During the Great Smog, the concentration of sulfur dioxide was 190 times higher than the WHO standard.

Following the investigation, the British Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956, which restricted the burning of coal in urban areas. The Act authorized local councils to set up smoke-free zones.

The public received grants to convert from coal stoves to alternative heating systems.

It took years, for London to transit from its primary source of heating coal to gas, oil, and electricity. During the transition period, deadly smogs occurred periodically, such as one that killed 750 people in 1962. But none of them reached the scale of the Great Smog that descended upon London on December 5, 1952.

In the 1960s, after the Great Smog in London, other countries began to reduce and control their use of coal.

Now, India, a country suffering from severe air pollution is also on a similar footing. Soon, India will become the world’s second largest consumer of coal. Yet, as of today, India has not yet set standards for emissions of important pollutants in its industries.

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Chinese Coaches Torture Kids to Create Olympic Champions


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Chinese child gymnastics - 04
A Chinese child gymnast cries in pain during “training”.

The 16-year-old, Ye Shiwen of China known as the ‘Mandarin Mermaid’ swam faster than US superstar Ryan Lochte. “It was pretty impressive. And, it was a female. She’s fast. If she was there with me, I don’t know, she might have beaten me” Lochte said.

Ye Shiwen - 02
Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen won gold medals in the 400 metres and 200 metres individual medley, setting the world record in the 400m event and the 2012 Olympic record in the 200m event.

Ye Shiwen said her extraordinary swim was the result of “hard work and training”.

In an effort to transform China into a global athletic power, the state-run athletics programs with a single-minded fixation on winning gold medals, earmark potential champions at a young age. Then, they haul those children away to camps and subject them to gruel training with its tough Soviet-style fitness programs.

Chinese Divers - 01
Chinese divers He Zi and Wu Minxia won the gold in the 3-meter synchronized springboard event at the London Olympics.

At the London Olympics China’s star diver, 26-year-old Wu Minxia became the first diver ever to win golds at three consecutive games in the 3-meter synchronized springboard. She sacrificed her school education and family life to win the gold for her country.

Wu Minxia of China - took the gold in the 3-meter synchronized springboard event at the London Olympics
Gold medalists Wu Minxia

Since the age of six, Wu trained daily at a diving camp and at 16 she had to move away from her family to live in a state-financed sports academy where training is grueling. She did not attend school. She had to dive all day for more than 10 years.

Wu Minxia rarely met her family members. Her parents followed her on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. In London, they could not meet her in person before the event. They watched their daughter perform from the stands. They had to withhold the news of her grandparents’ death for over a year. She was not even told that her mother had contracted cancer eight years ago. “We have known for years that our daughter did not belong to us anymore,” said Wu Yuming, her father.

Lin won a gold medal in men’s weight lifting. His father who had not seen him for six and a half years. He  told reporters that he did not recognize his 23-year-old son until he heard his name mentioned on television.

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Note: This five-part video presentation titled “How China trains (read: tortures!) its kids to become Olympic champions!” It vividly expounds the gruesome methods adopted by the Chinese coaches in training potential champions at a young age.

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2012 Olympics – First Joke


London Olympics 2012

At the gate to the London Olympic Games 2012 , a Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman want to get In, but they haven’t got tickets………………..

The Scotsman picks up a manhole-cover, tucks it under His arm and walks to the gate.

“McTavish, Scotland ,” he says, “Discus,” and in he walks.

The Englishman picks up a length of scaffolding and Slings it over his shoulder.

“Waddington-Smythe, England ,” he says, “Pole vault,” And in he walks.

The Irishman looks around, picks up a roll of barbed Wire and tucks it under his arm.

“O’Malley, Ireland ,” he says, 

“Fencing.”

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Reproduced from A Daily Thought (July 7, 2012)

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Photography through the Night – Part 2/5


Compiled by Art-profiles.com

This is part 2 of the 5 episodes of Photography through the Night.

Low light levels make night photography a challenging yet rewarding subject. The best results require specialized equipment, like SLR cameras, tripods, cable releases and flashguns. After sunset, the everyday world is magically transformed, and city buildings, fireworks, thunderstorms and the northern lights all become popular subjects.

Let’s see some more captures by great photographers…


#13 - Kowloon by VJ Spectra
#13 – Kowloon
by VJ Spectra
#14 - Merlion Night Scene by fravenang
#14 – Merlion Night Scene
by fravenang
#15 - Rays From Above by VJ Spectra
#15 – Rays From Above
by VJ Spectra
#16 - Wow Macau by VJ Spectra
#16 – Wow Macau
by VJ Spectra
#17 - A Night at The Bay Bridge by MattGranz
#17 – A Night at The Bay Bridge
by MattGranz
#18 - Red Bull Illume by CarbonSilver (gbenz)
#18 – Red Bull Illume
by CarbonSilver (gbenz)
#19 - Night Photography by bob west
#19 – Night Photography
by bob west
#20 - Night Waterfront Cityscape by 32tsunami
#20 – Night Waterfront Cityscape
by 32tsunami
#21 - Westmister Palace, London at night by QT Luong
#21 – Westmister Palace, London at night
by QT Luong
#22 - Sea Of Tranquility by VJ Spectra
#22 – Sea Of Tranquility
by VJ Spectra
#23 - Night Sky by VJ Spectra
#23 – Night Sky
by VJ Spectra
#24 - City of Niagara Falls by Jon Ramsey
#24 – City of Niagara Falls
by Jon Ramsey
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Sri Lankan woman faces beheading on witchcraft charge


The daily Okaz reported that a Saudi man had complained his daughter had ‘suddenly started acting in an abnormal way and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman’ in a large shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah.

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kracktivist

Accused of witchcraft: A Sri Lankan woman faces being beheaded after allegedly casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl during a shopping trip in Saudi Arabia (file picture)

 Mail Online, April 19-Accused of witchcraft: A Sri Lankan woman faces being beheaded after allegedly casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl during a shopping trip in Saudi Arabia

A Sri Lankan woman has been arrested on suspicion of casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl on a shopping trip in Saudi Arabia.

She may face the death penalty as the Middle Eastern country is known to behead convicted sorcerers.

Police spokesman Mesfir al-Juayed confirmed yesterday that details of the woman’s arrest published in local media were correct.

The daily Okaz reported that a Saudi man had complained his daughter had ‘suddenly started acting in an abnormal way and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman’ in a large shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah.

‘He reported her to the security forces, asking for her arrest and the specialised units dealt with the…

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