Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias
The Times of India reports a police crackdown on sex toy sales in Delhi. [via Arbroath]
After a tip-off, a team led by inspector Mukesh Walia raided Palika Bazaar on Tuesday and confiscated 14 such toys from a shop, a senior police officer said. The owner of the shop, Gurbeer Singh, has been arrested for importing and illegally selling sex toys.
Covered by a prohibition on "obscene" materials, selling sex toys is a punishable offense with up to five years' imprisonment on the cards for repeat offenders: "Even buyers can be prosecuted."
The BBC's Alex Bellos travels to Gwalior, an Indian city that contains a temple with the oldest known use of the number "0". It's part of an effort to figure out why zero would appear in India, and not in other, earlier civilizations that were mathematically adept. From Bellos' perspective, part of the answer might lie in theology — a mathematical representation of the mystical idea of "nothingness". — Maggie
MJ writes, "I'm part of a group called Gaysi Family. Every couple of months we host an open-mic event called Dirty Talk for the queer community in Mumbai (India). Funds raised from the event is donated to one or the two Queer support group in the city.
This year in March we were contacted by BBC team, as they wanted to film one of our events. The clipping would then be featured in one of their queer documentaries hosted by none other than well-known gay celebrity Stephen Fry. "
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Niall from the SF webzine Strange Horizons sez, "This week Strange Horizons has a special issue focusing on Indian and Indian diaspora SF. Guest curators Anil Menon and Vandana Singh select and introduce two stories -- 'Runaway Cyclone', a new translation of an early Indian SF story, and 'Sheesha Ghat' by Naiyer Masud. We've also got a round-table discussion with writers and critics including Samit Basu, Arvind Mishra and Manjula Padmanabhan; a poem by and interview with Shweta Narayan; and reviews of Indian SF throughout the week."
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The rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student last December drew worldwide attention to India's struggles with tradition, women's rights, and street harassment. In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, Krishna Pokharel and Aditi Malhotra add another layer to that onion, following the story of Punita Devi, the wife of one of the convicted rapists
. She, too, is suffering from the fallout of her husband's choices — and in ways that come back to those issues of tradition and equality. Living in a rural area where widows lose both their honor and any viable means of financial support, Devi is facing a future where she expects to be turned out of her in-laws' home, cannot return to her parents, and is judged and punished ... not for being the wife of a rapist, but for being nobody's wife. — Maggie
Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes,
For the first time, a full standards bureau is now available on the Internet for people to examine. This archive is published for the people of India and the people of the world who wish to see the technical specifications for public safety that govern our modern society. The archive includes 18,825 standards. Many of them have txt file extracts and over 600 are already available in HTML, SVG, or MATHML renditions.
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Andy Deemer discovered that India was about to decommission its telegram service on July 15, so he ran around Bangalore until he located the telegram office and sent one to a friend, just to document a procedure that is about to vanish forever:
He handed over an old slip of paper, wanted more details than should be necessary, copied everything into a massive bound ledger, spent ten minutes tallying up the bill, and charged only pennies for the experience. And that was it. I have no idea what happened next. Was there furious tapping of dots and dashes, or did he pop open Outlook 95 and send it via email? I don’t even know.
I guess the story isn’t exciting. Not one bit. But receiving the telegrams a week later?
Now that was grand.
The interesting thing is that the telegram system still sees a surprising amount of use; the Bangalore office alone handles 150 telegrams a day. However, that's down from a peak of 25,000-30,000 -- the decline started with the introduction of SMS.
Goodbye Telegram / Hello Telegram
OMICS Publishing Group, an Indian scholarly publisher has threatened to sue one of its critics, Metadata librarian Jeffrey Beall, for $1 billion, and has threatened him with prison time over posts he made to his prominent Scholarly Open Access site. OMICS cites India's terrible Information Technology Act as the basis for its threats. However, it seems unlikely that Beall would be extradited to India even if OMICS makes good on its threats, and unless he has assets in India, they'll have a hard time collecting on any judgment.
Today The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a less amusing letter Beall received Tuesday. An Indian intellectual property management firm called IP Markets informed Beall that they would be suing for $1 billion in damages and that he could face up to three years in prison for his "deliberate attempt to defame our client." That client is OMICS Publishing Group, an India-based operation profiled several times on the blog. The group requested that Beall remove the posts and e-mail updates to anyone who published his work, yet IP Markets still intends to go through with the suit either way.
"All the allegation [sic] that you have mentioned in your blog are nothing more than fantastic figment of your imagination by you," the six-page letter reads according to The Chronicle. "Our client perceive the blog as mindless rattle of a incoherent person and please be assured that our client has taken a very serious note of the language, tone, and tenure adopted by you as well as the criminal acts of putting the same on the Internet."
I know nothing about OMICS's publishing practices, but based on how they handle their critics, I feel confident in saying that they're not the sort of firm that any scholar should be doing business with -- censoring, terrible bullies don't make good publishers.
Blogger writes about predatory publishing, is threatened with $1B suit
Dr Shankar’s Brain Museum in Bangalore is shelf upon shelf of largely unlabelled brains in jars, along with various other bits of anatomical pickle (human and otherwise). Andy Deemer took a visit and provides some lovely snapshots.
I’m not sure that I’d call Dr Shankar’s Brain Museum a museum. There were no explanations, no details, no citations or learning. Just six hundred brains in an otherwise empty room.
On reflection, perhaps “Collection” would be a better word. A fantastic collection of diseased and healthy brains, sandwiched between a Brain Bank and the Hospital Canteen.
Two dozen purple slides showed something. Ten or so brains were marked by a shared label: Intracerebral Hemorrhage. Another row was marked Glioma. Arterial Stroke. Schwannoma. Schizophrenia.
Dr Shankar’s Wonderful Collection of Brains and Other Medical Obscura
My brother Carl Hamm (Twitter), who is a club and radio DJ and a collector of obscure but excellent global stuff, shares the images in this post and says:
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@kanwarsation sez, "Using a muzzling Court Order under India's badly written IT Act against the Department of Telecom, the IIPM has blocked articles critical of them
, including satire on humour sites, and commentary on news sites as well. Most shocking, they have blocked the link to an official order declaring that they are not a university, which was posted on the website of the University Grants Commission, a government body that looks at higher education.
The Indian Institute of Planning & Management is an over-priced MBA school that basically allows in anyone who writes a big enough cheque. There has been continuing criticism of their methods and quality, and of their flamboyant Founder/Chairman Arindam Chaudhuri."
Researchers map the history of curry
by analyzing chemical traces in ancient Indian pottery. — Maggie
R3LOAD.net sez, "YouTube is streaming the full move Superman, a 1987 Hindi remake of the Hollywood movie. Synopsis: In this Indian take on the classic superhero story, a young baby from the doomed planet Krypton is sent to Earth, where he is adopted by an elderly couple in India who name him Shekhar. After growing to an adult and learning about his origins and powers, he goes to the city in search of his school sweetheart, Gita, who has become a newpaper reporter. At the same time, Verma, Shekhar's rival for Gita's affection in their school days, has gone on to become a crime lord and general super-villain. Verma has hatched at plan to become rich by devastating part of India with natural disasters, then buying up all of the abandoned land."
Just watched 15 minutes of this and was hooked.
Photographer Jon Siegel, who lives in Japan and works throughout Asia, shares these portraits in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, and explains:
It was a pleasure and an absolute honor to be allowed to watch and follow the Thaipusam festival here in Singapore. Everyone was polite, kind and welcoming to me as I attempted to document the experience with my camera, I am very grateful. Needless to say, I did my best to keep out of the way and to lend a helping hand when needed. This definitely ranks as one of the greatest experiences I have had so far in Singapore, if not in all my travels. A deeply spiritual experience affecting all senses, from the beautiful chanting and music, to the smell of the burning incense and ash, every aspect powerful and poetic.
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"Let there be an end to this epidemic of violence, this culture where if we can’t kill off our girls before they are born, we ensure that they live these lives of constant fear. Like many women in India, I rely on a layer of privilege, a network of friends, paranoid security measures and a huge dose of amnesia just to get around the city, just to travel in this country. So many more women have neither the privilege, nor the luxury of amnesia, and this week, perhaps we all stood up to say, 'Enough,' no matter how incoherently or angrily we said it." For Anonymous, by Nilanjana Roy
. — Xeni