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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

America Cosying Upto China - Where Does That Leave India?

The media may be talking about Obama bending backwards to accommodate China by bending forward, but what we are missing is that in China the US has probably her biggest ally. And even if the general population does not seem to understand the importance of China to the United States, the fact is that it is China which is funding, in a major part, the seemingly good health of the American Economy.

Consider this, the Chinese are carrying an American debt of $ 800 Billion. Do the American people know that America pays about $5o billion to China every year as interest? It is a different matter altogether that the interest also may be on paper. What happens when China decides to cash in on the bonds that it has collected over so many years? If any American knows the answer he will understand why Obama "stooped" to wish the Chinese premier.

Anyway the more important issue for India is, "What the hell is America doing?" On one side is Pakistan, whom America is kind of sheltering from India under the pretext of Pakistan's, most suspect, effort towards the War against Terror, knowing fully well that the terror in the sub-continent is originates in Pakistan. Time and again Pakistan has got away with it mostly due to the US support and they continue to harbor terrorists of all kinds.

America extended the olive branch to India by offering the civilian use nuclear agreement. That, it is not going to stick to it's end of bargain, is a foregone conclusion. However now by playing hooky with China, America is further isolating India in her own backyard. India has steadfastly refused a third party mediation in resolving her border row with Pakistan. Now Obama is asking the Chinese to play a role in stabilizing the region i.e. Indo-Pak relations. Didn't any one tell the President that China is also party to a border dispute with India or that Pakistan has let go of certain regions of PoK to China.

The President also acknowledged that China should play a bigger role in Pakistan and Afghanistan, signs that America is ready to move out of Afghanistan. Essentially what Obama has given to China is the unilateral right to be the Big Boss in the region, even while maintaining that India is an important ally.

Where does that leave India? The Chinese premier was vehement about the requirement of India signing the NPT, which is something America will have to try, to get in the favorable books of China. Not only that if America indeed wants the Iran and North Korean Nuclear dreams to be curtailed, it needs China. So if China asks for something, US will comply.

India thought so far that America was a friend. Whether America really is a friend or not, only time will tell. History reveals that America is nobody's friend and that is the reason they are where they are. That leaves India with very few friends, most of whom are pretty worthless when it comes to standing up to the might of the countries like America and China. How long before the arm-twisting begins. Oh! USSR, where are You?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Terror Recruitment - Rana And Headley - Media to Blame

The news doing the rounds now is that Tahawwur Rana and David Coleman Headley were actually on a terror recruitment drive across India and that the duo was using the advertising mechanism to liaise with their other operatives. Guess who is shouting from the rooftops about these new developments. The media itself which carried those ads without any verifications.

This issue is the most important and the least discussed in the media, for obvious reasons. No one in their sane minds bites the hands which feed them.

The media gets away by making a simple disclaimer statement about not having to do anything with the ads that they run. They do take the money but won't take the responsibility of the veracity and the genuineness of the advertisement they are carrying. They put that responsibility on the reader. Now what do you do if terrorists are using those very ads to communicate with their ilk or to recruit more people into their clan. The media will not take any responsibility still. After all they do have the disclaimer clause. Even now no one seems to be bothered. The money-hungry mafia.. ooops, media will continue to carry the ads.

In this case for a few hundred Rupees the media has provided a channel of communication to terrorists and I wonder why no one is holding them responsible for terror links or as accomplices.

There are so many people who are reading the newspapers and using the ads they display to make informed decisions considering, by default, that the ads are authentic. So many people must be wasting money on those stupid, "Make money from home" ads. If that was not enough to get eyeballs rolling, now comes this case where terrorists have used the media for their nefarious activities. What will it take for some one to wake up and put in some kind of regulatory mechanism by which such things can be stopped?

The media Print as well as electronic should verify the ads before they print or air them. The whole idea of advertisement is to allow people to make informed decisions. Unfortunately the unscrupulous as well as some of the esteemed lot makes use of the media to mislead people. Even the recent case of a doctor/quack/scientist, Munir Khan, who claimed to treat cancer, heart blockages etc has not prompted any action. The man was actually using celebrities to endorse his product and the media was happily carrying it. He has been arrested and will probably be convicted. But what of the media and the celebrities who promoted his products. Oh No! They only take money for providing subsidized news.

But again these and all those massage parlor ads are minor issues compared to being used as a medium for anti-national activities. High time the sector got organized where issues can be prevented rather than only being covered as breaking news.

Visit my website to read more of my articles and to buy my fiction novel on Infiltration.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Voter's I Card? Expected Something Better From Mumbai and Election Commissioner

I received my Voter's I card a few days back and finally understood why and how the election process is never upto the mark. If my Voter's I card is anything to go by, the esteemed offices of our Election Commission are full of incompetent or overworked people with no resources at their disposal or someone making a hell lot of money.

To start with my name is wrong. That is an understatement actually. My first name is spelled wrongly, I do not use a patronymic name which the commission has forcibly introduced into my name and my surname is also spelled wrongly. My father's surname has been spelled the same as mine and hence wrongly. So much for my name.

Next my date of birth is also wrong. Let me correct that, the year of my birth is mentioned wrongly. The date and month are reflected with two crosses each and God alone knows what hides behind the crosses in the computer which is holding this data.

My address on the reverse side is mentioned wrongly, unless it is normal to mention any address in the vicinity of my actual address. I really don't know where this place is but I do recognize the Homibhabha Road which is about two kilometers from my pace of residence, maybe 1.5 as the crow flies.

The paper used is normal xerox paper printed on the same side and then folded once to give an appearance of being printed on both sides. Unfortunately I guess the folding was being done by some tired hands which could not care whether the fold was proper or not. The printer also seems to be running out of ink as some words are lighter than others. The lamination is like it was done by a worn out machine not heating up to the desired temperature or by someone whose primary duty was to get tea and Samosas for the staff.

Fortunately the sex is right and the Waterloo man did not right often instead of male. Have a look:




I do not think the card will serve the basic purpose of identifying me for the election. Forget that, it will not even serve as an identification document for any other purpose. Should I even bother to get it corrected, I wonder. And this from one of the most advanced cities of Mumbai in the 21st century. I just hope the UID project is not also heading in the same direction.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cholinergic Urticaria (Heat Rash, Heat Hives)– Overview, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment


It all started about 8 months ago, with a burning sensation in my palms and soles of the feet one night. The next day it began to itch all over my body, which I thought was due to dry skin problems. So, I applied a skin moisturizer to help soothe the skin. However, after a few hours I started developing rashes (hives) all over with severe itching. It spread very fast and soon I had a full blown reaction involving even my face. Alarmed by this reaction, I hurried to the hospital for immediate treatment and was given an injection of Avil to control it. They also gave me some anti-allergic medication to take the next day in case it recurred again. Well, the reaction died down and things were fine until next day when I went for my regular evening walk. I realized that every time I exercised or did anything that generated heat in my body, I would break out into these rashes. I went to the hospital at least two more times for immediate relief from these rashes, which were very severe.

Image Source: http://images.medicinenet.com/images/illustrations/Hives.jpg

For at least a month I continued this way, thinking that the problem would solve itself soon. But, it didn't. It was then that I decided to go to a skin specialist to find out exactly what was going on and also for the proper treatment and management of this condition. In the meantime, I also discovered that I had a high TSH count indicative of a hypothyroid condition which required to be controlled by synthetic hormone replacement therapy. When I visited the skin specialist, I learned that I had a condition called Cholinergic Urticaria.

Overview:

Cholinergic Urticaria is a very common physical urticaria that is brought on by a stimulus like heat or sweating. Referred to as heat bumps, heat rashes or heat hives as the rash appears as very small (1-4mm) weals surrounded by bright red flares.



Image Source: http://dermnetnz.org/reactions/img/cholinergic1-s.jpg

Any condition that causes a rise in the core body temperature, resulting in sweating, triggers off these rashes in Cholinergic Urticaria. The most common triggers being: exercise, hot baths/showers, fever, occlusive dressings, eating spicy foods and even emotional stress. All urticaria result in high levels of histamine that is released by the mast cells of the body in response to a stimulus. The exact triggering mechanism for this response remains unknown in case of Cholinergic Urticaria.


Clinical Signs and Symptoms:


The condition is characterized by rashes that appear quite rapidly, usually within a few minutes of sweating, and can last between half an hour to an hour before fading away. The mean duration being about 80 minutes. There are some typical signs and symptoms like: (quoted below)

  • An itching, burning, tingling or warm sensation preceding the onset of numerous small weals with surrounding bright red flares.
  • Rash is often very itchy
  • Rash may appear anywhere on the body but is more prominent on the upper trunk and arms. It does not affect the palms or soles and rarely the armpits.
  • Sometimes the tiny weals join together to form a large swelling
  • Patients who are more severely affected may experience systemic symptoms such as headaches, salivation, palpitations, fainting, shortness of breath, wheezing, abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Rarely, patients with cholinergic urticaria can have more severe reactions such as anaphylaxis so should probably not exercise alone.
    Treatment of Cholinergic Urticaria

    It is very easy for your doctor to diagnose this condition based on the history and symptoms of the rashes, even if you don't have any rashes to show your doctor at the time of the visit. The doctor can also perform certain tests to confirm it, like for eg. ask the patient to exercise by jogging in place for a few minutes and see how much time it takes for the rashes to appear.

    To treat this condition one has to limit strenuous exercise and reduce the normal triggering factors that may bring on a reaction, like emotional or even physical stress. The doctor also prescribes anti- allergic medications like hydroxyzine to control the severe symptoms of itching and rashes along with some anti-anxiety medication, in case of emotional stress. Most of the cases respond well to anti-allergic medication alone.

    In my case, the dermatologist first prescribed fexofenadine commonly known as Allegra (180mg) to be taken twice a day along with tricyclic antidepressants Cap Spectra (25mg) to be taken at night, for about a month. After a month, the second dose of Allegra was removed and I was asked to continue with just one dose for another month. Thereafter, I was given another anti-allergic medication to be taken at night, namely hydroxyzine (Atarax 25mg). I then discontinued the antidepressant and took these medications as prescribed for one more month. In addition to this, I was also given a homeopathic medicine (Anbuta) in the form of drops that I had to take (10 drops) thrice a day in order to increase my immunity. This is quite an expensive medicine, costing me Rupees 400/- for a bottle of 50mg. I took this prescribed medication for about two months. By now, my condition had improved quite a bit. At least I was comfortable, free of rashes, itching and even doing mild exercise, as long as I was taking the medication on time. The dermatologist also gave me a topical lotion (Sarna) that I could apply on my rashes and areas where I experienced itching. This lotion contains camphor and menthol that helps to relieve the discomfort of dry, itchy skin. It is a cooling soothing emollient that provides temporary relief from pain and itching caused by prickly heat, minor sunburn, abrasions, insect bites and minor skin irritations.

    Along with all these medications, the dermatologist also advised me to use mild soaps, detergents, shampoos and other cosmetic agents so as to avoid any contact dermatitis with harsh chemicals. I moisturize my skin regularly with mild baby lotions and use other natural products as much as possible.

    When I reported to him again after about two months, he replaced Tab Allegra with Tab Lerafil and Tab Vermisol or Dicaris (Levamisole) 150 mg for about 6 weeks. The Tab Vermisol (medicine for deworming) is given to increase the immunity. I took these medications, as prescribed, for the stipulated period and saw some improvement in my condition. The only side effects that I seemed to suffer from all these medicines was drowsiness. After 6 weeks, I reported to the clinic again.

    By now, I was getting tired of taking medicines and the dermatologist must have sensed this, because he gave me the good news that I had been eagerly waiting for – he was going to phase off the medications. I was now to take the above medicines every alternate day for about two weeks before he would review me again.

    Initially, when I started taking the medicine every alternate day as suggested, I began to feel the itchy sensation all over again, but on applying the Sarna lotion to those areas brought instant relief. So, I continued on like that for about two weeks and after that I was able to stay for 2-3 days without much discomfort. I have been on this regimen for 6 more weeks since then and am much better now.

    The treatment is still not complete though, and I need that final nod from my dermatologist to stop all medications altogether. He had warned me, well in advance, that it would take time. But, I feel I am almost there.

    In the meantime, my thyroid condition has also stabilized due to the hormone therapy and its dosage is now adjusted to the right levels.

    A note of caution here: Those who are suffering from any thyroid condition should be careful while taking certain medications as they can have adverse reactions.

    ****Always consult a doctor before taking any medication. All medicines need to be prescribed in an appropriate manner and dosage, for the desired effects, and it may differ from individual to individual.

    Additional eMedicine articles on urticaria, including Urticaria, Acute; Urticaria, Chronic; Urticaria, Contact Syndrome; Urticaria, Dermographism; Urticaria, Papular; Urticaria, Pressure; and Urticaria, Solar, may be of interest to the readers.

    Additional Resources and Information on Cholinergic Urticaria:

    How To Take Care Of Winter Ailments


    November is here and with it comes a season change, the onset of winter. As the season changes, there is a high fluctuation in the day and night temperatures, causing it to be hot in the day and chilly during the night. These temperatures provide an ideal environment for the growth and spread of viruses and bacteria, which is the common cause for catching a cold, cough, flu or the sore throat, more so during the winter.

    As the winter approaches, the days get shorter and nights longer that results in lesser exposure to sunlight that gets blocked due to the smog (in cities like Mumbai) or fog (in the mountains or higher altitudes). This lack of sunlight weakens our body immune system thereby making it a suitable environment for the viruses to survive in the body much longer than they can during the summers when the temperatures are much higher.


    Winter ailments like the cold, cough, congestion, flu, and sore throat are very common and most people, including children of all ages, suffer from one or all of these as the season changes. It is particularly common to find small children sneezing or sniffling with a runny nose, having fever with sore throat and or chest congestion with a blocked nose that makes it difficult to sleep at night. The cold winter also brings with it different kinds of allergies and a problem of dry and itchy skin. People suffering from asthma may find their symptoms getting aggravated more during the winters.


    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

    There is a saying that is common in the medical fraternity, “prevention is better than a cure” and this couldn’t be far from the truth. There are many ways in which one can prevent the onset of these symptoms and deal with the cold in a safe and effective manner without many side effects. The first and the most obvious step to take would be to take good care of your health and immune system by eating healthy, resting properly and also doing some exercise that will help keep your body fit. Also try to get some exposure to sunlight during the day.

    As the temperatures fluctuate between the day and night, make sure that you wear appropriate clothes to suit them. Since it gets chilly at night, it would be sensible on your part to cover yourself adequately to keep warm. Make sure that your children are warm during the night; in particular, keep their chest, head, ears and hands warm and covered. You may need to regulate the fans or air conditioners at night, depending on the dip in temperatures. Make sure that your children do not sleep directly below the fans or next to the air conditioners.

    The cold winter causes the skin to get dry, flaky and itchy and the best solution to that is to remember to drink plenty of water. We tend to drink lesser water in the winter that causes dehydration and is the reason for dry nose, lips and mouth. Make it a point to drink plenty of warm water throughout the day, or indulge yourself in hot soups of all kinds; tomato soup, spinach soup, clear chicken soup, vegetable soup etc. For dry skin, moisturize it with appropriate creams or body lotions that suit you. The most effective way is to apply oil (natural oils like Jojoba, Avocado, Coconut Oils) all over your body. This will soothe the skin and allow it to absorb the essential oils that normally get washed away when we have hot or warm water baths. The best policy is to use “luke warm” water to have a bath and use mild soaps in order to retain your natural skin oil as much as possible. Remember to use a chap stick to keep your lips moistened and to prevent them from cracking and bleeding.

    Good nutrition plays a very important role in strengthening the immunity of our body. Therefore, we need to supplement our food with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are vital to boost the body defense mechanism in order to fight the viruses and bacteria. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) in particular, is known to be very effective in fighting germs and also to help prevent a cold. Vitamin C can be found in green leafy vegetables, berries, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), guavas, tomatoes, melons, papayas etc.

    Most people rely on “over-the-counter” (OTC) medicines to treat the symptoms of a cold or cough. However, these medicines could prove to be dangerous (particularly in children below 4 yrs), if not prescribed in the proper manner or dosage.

    Home Remedies To Treat Cold, Cough, Congestion and Sore Throat

    Before you resort to taking medications, try some simple home remedies to cure your cold, cough or sore throat. The most effective of all is drinking warm water throughout the day, drinking hot soups and or drinking green tea with a bit of ginger. Warm saline gargles help in soothing your throat and also killing the bacteria. If you have congestion in your lungs, then steam inhalations are the most effective in diluting the mucus and relieving your symptoms. Apart from this, it is also very important to take complete bed rest and relieve yourself from any stress. Keep yourself warm at all times. Normally, your cold gets better in just two or three days time if you follow the above steps diligently. Ginger, honey and garlic are very effective in treating common cold and cough. A little honey mixed in warm water along with a few drops of lemon can take care of your cold.

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

    However, if one has fever and flu-like symptoms then the best way to deal with it is by taking adequate rest, plenty of fluids, hot water and avoid contact with other people in the house so as to avoid its spread. Visit your physician to get a proper diagnosis of the condition and for the correct prescription. Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor in the correct dose. Hygiene is very important to prevent the spread of viral and bacterial infections, so make sure that you wash your hands properly before eating food or touching anybody else. Cover your nose and mouth whenever you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading the germs through the air.

    For treating children and kids with cough or cold medications, be sure to consult a doctor as OTC medicines that include cough syrups could prove to be dangerous if not given in the correct manner or dosage. Also two or three medicines when combined together could have adverse effects with one another. For e.g. Antihistamines and Decongestants.

    Take care of your health, folks, and enjoy this winter. Don’t let it get to you and cramp your style. Get outdoors and play in the snow, if you must. Winter is also a festival season for the people all over the world. There is a lot to be cheerful about and lots to look forward to. So, chill out and don’t get the winter blues!

    Reference Books:

                Doctor's Book of Home Remedies: Simple, Doctor-Approved Self-Care Solutions for 146 Common Health Conditions



    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41JJNDFJYVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg




    Facebook Privacy Concerns - Ignorance Is A Bliss

    There has been a lot of talk about the Facebook Privacy concerns. Most of it is ignorance on part of the users. You can't blame Facebook for that.

    Two issues which I came across on the net amongst my peers and otherwise while browsing were:

    (a) Photos of the user are visible to non-mutual friends of user's friends.

    (b) Third Party applications extracting data of users when a friend was allowing access to a third party.

    (c) Use of your Profile and photo in Social ads by Faceboo as well as third party applications.

    Here is the fact. Facebook has got measures in place to avoid both scenarios. However people are just not aware of them or are too lazy to do anything about protecting their own privacy. If you are really concerned here is what you need to do

    Issue 1: Photos of the user are visible to non-mutual friends of user's friends Go to the settings menu and select Privacy settings. In the basic settings select Friends only in all the options. This flaw existed because there is an option of selecting friends of friends in the drop down box.

    Issue 2: Third Party applications extracting data of users when a friend was allowing access to a third party Under the privacy tab select Applications and then settings on the Application pages. This is the place where you can select what information should be visible to third party applications when one of your friends allows the application to extract his information. Make your selections and save the settings. Your Privacy is now as good as any thing else. There is also a choice, "Do not share any information about me through the Facebook API" but you can select it only when you remove all applications which are built on the platform. Rest assured you can't do that unless you want to give up the entire meaning of the Facebook experience.

    Issue 3: Use of your Profile and photo in Social ads by Faceboo as well as third party applications In the Privacy settings select News Feed and Wall. On the new page select "Facebook Ads". You will see that it is mentioned on the page that Facebook does not give third party applications or ad networks the right to use your name or picture in ads. If this is allowed in the future, this setting will govern the usage of your information. However to be sure that you are not caught unawares select No one against the setting "Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to" and save your settings. The next setting on the same page is the "Ads shown by Facebook" This is generally harmless because the Social Action Ads are just used for promoting some content like Pages etc for intimating your friends about your actions like becaoming a fan, joining a group etc.

    The question that arises now is that why is Facebook not clarifying this option openly. The reason is simple. If all users hid their information from third party applications, the third party application developers and promoters/advertisers will have no reason to continue to offer the free applications on Facebook. After all it is all about money, honey.

    Visit my website at http://www.taprial.in

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks Anniversary - Ready For Another One?

    26/11, the date when Mumbai terror attacks took place. The date which changed the perspective of the people of this country about terror. The date when Mumbai was shaken out of it's slumber and shown how vulnerable she was. The date when the collective responsibility of various organizations was put to test and most came out failures. Did I hear someone say they succeeded? I am sorry, but it is like saying that since the ultimate aim of life is death, everyone succeeds. Had we left the terrorists to themselves, they would have probably run out of ammo and starved themselves to death. Would that also be treated as success? I mean, who takes three days to take charge of and decimate 4 terrorists?

    I am by no means trying to belittle the efforts of individuals, but as organizations, none of our esteemed ones succeeded.

    One year later things seem to be the same. Congress - NCP combine the incumbent government during the terror attacks continues to be in power. Vilasrao Deshmukh the Chief Minister at the time of Mumbai attacks is now enjoying being a cabinet minister and is the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

    Shivraj Patil, the home minister of India who had resigned taking "moral responsibilty" for the incident continues to be a member of the Rajya Sabha and a respected functionary of his party. In fact Ashok Chavan, the current Chief Minister of the state called upon Shivraj Patil which is an indication of the clout Shivraj Patil enjoys in the state and the party. If luck has it, Shivraj Patil might even become Governor of Punjab (According to some news reports.)

    The NSG which was ultimately responsible for ending the 26/11 impasse, has been given land at Marol and is restricted to only 23 Acres as compared to Force One (What's that? Vijay Mallaya's Formula one team!) who have been allotted 98 Acres in Aarey colony, Goregaon. The police force of Mumbai were largely spectators during the Mumbai attacks relative to what NSG was doing and now something tells the state government that the Mumbai Police will be able to counter any future threats and thereby relegating the NSG to a lower status. This in spite of the fact that Force One is a new force and yet to prove that it is a force to reckon with. Therefore, it is back to Mumbai Police.

    RR Patil, the home minister who had resigned from his post in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, has been reinstated as the home minister.

    The Maharashtra DGP at the time of Mumbai terror attacks was AN Roy. By a quirk of fate coupled with some politics, he was removed by the High Court and is again currently holding additional charge of the State DGP and is likely to be appointed DGP soon since he is the senior most IPS officer in the state, a rule that was not followed during his earlier appointment.

    So we have all the people back doing their jobs they were doing back in Nov 2008. I guess we are fully ready for another 26/11. The only difference is that the fisher-folks colony near Badhwar Park, where the terrorists landed last year, is manned by Police. Maybe that will be enough deterrent for the terrorists to land elsewhere along the more than 700 kilometers of Maharashtra coastline.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Fort Hood Shooting - Major Nidal Malik Hasan - Enemy in the Ranks

    They say fiction is a precursor of things to happen. What happened in the Major Nidal Malik Hasan shooting case at Fort Hood, is what my novel, Enemy in the Ranks, talks about, Infiltration of anti-national elements in the important establishments of the country. It is yet to be seen whether Major Nidal Malik Hasan was connected with any of the extremist groups. However if indeed he was, imagine the damage he could have caused earlier while being a part of the Army, without actually being blamed for it. Sabotage, espionage anything is possible.

    Sooner or later, the terrorists are going to realize, they might even have already, that they can't be going loggerheads with an adversary who is much stronger than them. So the way out for them is to inflict damage while they are a part of the system. I am just thinking aloud, Why would Major Nidal Malik Hasan, if he was indeed an Enemy in the ranks resort to such an open shooting while he could have continued to achieve his aims silently? Maybe his cover was blown. What does a committed man, who knows his life was going to be miserable if he was ever caught alive, do in such circumstances? Well he takes down with him, as many as possible.

    Maybe it did not happen that way. Maybe Major Nidal Malik Hasan was just a regular psychiatrist and a patriot who just lost it after counseling so many over the edge people. But the angle whether he was associated with any of the terror groups needs to be investigated for the simple reason that there might be others who are already there. An Enemy in the Ranks is a distinct possibility and we need to guard against it. This is a lesson all countries need to learn and take precaution against. An Enemy in the Ranks is the worst that can happen.

    Chuck Norris also has the same opinion. Read this Enemies Within

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    My Dream Job - Bestselling Author

    All of us have dreams. All of us have some of them realized, some shattered. But the capacity to dream is everlasting. The wishes and desires are a pot that never gets filled. Dream jobs are those which provide you monetary, emotional, professional and social satisfaction.

    Have you ever seen the look on the face of a man who is in a dream job. The brilliance of the face, the happiness, the positive energy, it all seems like another place. A dream job will remain a dream if we do not work towards it.

    My dream job has always been to be a bestselling author. One who can rely on his writing alone to have the good life. Never having to work for someone else ever after again in my life. I always picture myself, in my dream, sitting on a beach sipping beer, having a choice of snacks on the table and typing away to glory on the laptop. There are times I think about writing while being on a world tour onboard a luxury liner. You see, writing is something you can do anywhere, be it a beach, mountains, jungles, or even in your car. There is total freedom. No time constraints, you write when you want to , where you want to, and how you want to. The inputs along with your imagination come from real life and research if and when required is fun.

    Writing by itself is a very satisfying job. Essentially what you do is get an outlet for your thoughts. People write diaries because they find it to be soothing to themselves. Writing can take care of all your emotions. Whether it is anger, sadness, frustration, desperation, happiness, just sit on your table and write it down and you will feel better and if not better, at least grounded to the reality. Being a bestselling author is an icing on the cake.

    One more advantage of being a bestselling author is that besides providing full on entertainment/knowledge to people, you are someone that everyone relates to. Everyone who has ever read anything in his life has dreamt of or at least thought of being a writer himself. When you achieve your aim of writing, people look at you with respect and think, wow! He did it. That, it gives motivation to others is an added benefit.

    So, consider this, You sit at the best locales in the world, meeting beautiful people, sipping the best wines, munching on the best snacks, writing your thoughts, which you know will be read by millions, who would gain from it, thank you from the bottom of their hearts for making them forget life for a while, and you earn money for doing this. This is my dream job. I have already achieved the author part of it with my novel “Enemy in the Ranks”, the bestselling part can’t be too far from here.

    Don't despair if you are not yet there, for you are not the only one. Listen to this song Piano Man" by Billy Joel which talks about unfulfilled dreams, aspirations, ambitions all affected by the usual culprit, circumstances!


    Billy Joel - Piano Man (Official Music Video) - The most popular videos are a click away

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Making a Writer Out of You – Some Helpful Tips to Remember

    Introduction

    You have just decided to become a writer and are excited at the thought of getting published, which is very easy to do so now, thanks to the internet and some writers’ sites like Xomba.com. I can assure you that it will be an exciting adventure – one full of interest, enjoyment, and reward for you.

    Writing on the internet can be a very easy task as most people indulge in what is called “blogging” either on their own blogs or on other social networking sites. This kind of writing is usually very informal and straight from the heart or mind, without much regard to the correct usage of the language, grammar or even punctuation. However, to become a successful published writer and take it up seriously as a writing career requires certain skills, talents and techniques.

    If you want to take up writing as just a hobby, for fun and enjoyment, and possibly to earn some extra money then you can take a much more relaxed approach without lowering your standards of writing. But, to become a professional writer or even a “good” enough writer to be taken seriously there are some standards that you need to set up for yourself.

    Develop Your Own Style

    One of the first steps in writing is to develop and cultivate your own unique style of writing. This goes a long way in building your own identity, reputation and helping readers to connect with you in a unique way. To be a successful writer, you need self-discipline, perseverance and serious commitment towards your writing in order to reap the rewards – enjoyment, personal satisfaction of creative achievement, and as we have seen on Xomba; a good financial return for your efforts too.

    Know What You Write

    It is always a good practice to write what you know to start with. It will show between the lines if you don’t (remember the Ernest Hemingway “Iceberg principle”, seven-eighths under water, only one eighth above?). Your prime function as a writer is to entertain your readers. Even if you are writing as a journalist or non-fiction writer, whose duty is to inform, you should be able to do so in an entertaining, readable style – which is what creative writing is all about.

    Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

    If you want your writing to be taken seriously, then I would advise you to put some efforts in studying correct usage of the language, grammar and punctuation. Have you ever read any article or passage without punctuation and lots of spelling mistakes? Let me tell you that it is very frustrating for the reader to read such a piece. Not only that, it also leaves a bad taste and an impression that this writer doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. The result can be disastrous, you could lose potential readers who may never come back to read any of your work ever again. Now, you don’t want that to happen do you?

    There are many resources, and websites on the internet which could provide you with ample tips and tricks to writing well. You could also refer to online dictionaries and encyclopaedias for correct spellings and grammar. If you work on a word processor then always use the spellcheck facility. But, you need to keep in mind that certain words like “to” instead of “too” will not appear as a mistake and you will need to re-read your work in order to spot them on your own. Try to polish your work as much as possible.

    Information Research – How to Approach It

    Okay, so you have decided on a topic to write (congratulate yourself!). Now comes the difficult part of putting all you know together into a well written article. But wait, are you sure that you have all the facts and figures right? Whatever your chosen field, fiction or non-fiction – articles, plays, short stories or fantasy – sooner or later you will need to do some research.

    It always helps to first jot down the main points that you are going to cover in your article. Check out all the dates, quotations, proper spellings of a place or name, or you may even have to trace some historical facts for a novel. All this requires adequate research that will almost certainly add depth and credibility to your work if you do it well.

    So, where do you go for your research? Well, there are many resources at your disposal and it is up to you to choose the best method. You could go to a library for reference books, or use the internet.

    The internet is a World Wide Web of information with websites which provide information at your fingertips: these include sites for academic research, government facts and figures, and specialist interest sites. For writers, it is an endless source of information on anything you wish to research.

    Using “search engines” like google.com can speed up your searches by leading you directly to the relevant pages when you type in a keyword. However, you need to remember that NOT all information online is trustworthy. Therefore, be on your guard. I would advise you to check out anything that does not emanate from a known, authoritative source. The best sources of information are government sites or the official websites of products or companies – basically, try to get information straight from the “horse’s mouth”.

    Putting It All Together

    You have done the research and collected all the information that you would need for your writing. You have all your notes ready. Now, finally, comes the difficult part of putting all you know together into a well written article. How to put it across?

    1. The opening paragraph of an article is probably the most important part, especially the first sentence. It should achieve several things – immediately catch the reader’s attention, be relevant to the rest of the article, it should be a topical or novel statement and it should be interesting enough to lead the reader into the remainder of the paragraph and body of the article.

    2. Keep your sentences short. The headline and your opening paragraph will showcase your entire article.

    3. Paragraphs are very important. Always make it a point to break up your information into different paragraphs, so that it is easier to read and assimilate for the reader. Do try NOT to cram too many ideas into one paragraph.One point in a paragraph is enough. The lengths of the paragraphs can be varied.

    4. The body of the article. The middle or the body of the article should be written in the same style as the opening paragraph and contain plenty of facts. Here is where all your research material will go, in a well laid out manner. Do NOT confuse facts with opinions. It is always best to leave personal opinions out of your writing, unless you are writing about your personal experiences under the category of “Diary and Journal”.

    5. Add images, videos, graphs, charts etc. to your article, wherever appropriate, to make it more illustrative and colourful. An image helps not only to make an article more attractive to the readers, but also adds more value as it instantly provides an idea of what you are trying to say in words. Similarly, graphs, charts and bars when added can effectively illustrate statistics, facts and figures.

    6. Revising is Important. One can never emphasize enough on the importance of revision. It is always best to revise your article thoroughly before submitting it. Read it at least once and check it for incorrect spellings, grammatical faults and lack of clarity. Be critical of yourself. Polish sentences and paragraphs to make them short and crisp. Once you are satisfied with the article, then go ahead and submit it.

    Remember, you need to develop your craft as a writer in order to succeed in either the print media or the internet. Practice makes perfect, so the more you write, the better you will get at it. However, “presenting your work and selling it” is a different ball game and a much more extensive subject altogether which requires it to be covered in another article.

    Original article on Xomba

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