Wednesday, September 28, 2005

All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Dear Friends (few) and Enemies (numerous),
I have re-discovered religion again. I have started calling myself a born-again pastafarian. According to our mythology, this universe was created by his holiness, 'The Flying Spaghetti Monster'. He preached the true nature of his noodly appendage to the true prophet, Bobby Henderson. If you would like to save yourself and learn more about this wonderful religion, please visit our official website here.


PS : If I have offended your religion in any way, please note that it was not unintentional. Also note that this post is intended to offend people who follow all kinds of religions except pastafarianism. This is because we believe that our religion is the one true religion.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The real reason behind flooding in New Orleans ?

I just read this interesting article in the New Scientist where a group of scientists question the levee overtopping failure theory in New Orleans. According to this group, preliminary measurements show that the water was not high enough at certain points to cause overtopping. They reason that these levees were actually breached and they blame the cuts in federal spending and QC mechanisms within the Army Corps of Engineers. Apparently, the failure investigation report is due out in 2006. Sure. Ample time for another Cat 4 storm.

A small detour here. A levee is typically an earthern wall designed to confine water in a specific region. Typical levee failures are of two kinds : Overtopping failure or Breach failure. In the former case, the water level behind the levee rises to the top of the levee and then then overtops / flows over the levee. As the water flows over the outer surface, it starts eroding material at the foundation ultimately leading to the failure of the levee. Such failures are usually characterized by the levee wall falling backwards. In the latter case (breach), water flowing through and below the dam creates a 'pipe' which gets enlarged over time. Ultimately, the water punches a hole through the dam. Lo and Presto, failure. See pictures here and here

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My buddy Raju had a post on the controversial river interlinking project in India. As a water resources engineer, I find the prospect of engineering a solution to solve flooding and drought problems very exciting. However, there are a lot of pros and cons to the issue. The knee-jerk environmental activist response is to criticize the government, question the science and conclude that the public is in for yet another ride. However, this post is not about the socio-economic impacts of this project. I would limit myself to the engineering aspects of this project.

Firstly, does anyone have access to a hydrologic study presenting more details on this project ? I am interested in the following issues :

1. Where are the major links / Storage basins/Reservoirs to be constructed ?
2. What kind of hydraulic / hydrologic modeling has been done to analyze the impact of river diversion ?
3. What about sediment transport / silt buildup analysis ?
4. How about impacts to the ecosystem ?

If anyone can provide me with some documentation / details, that would be just great.

Google WiFi /Secure Access

Google will soon roll out its Google WiFi service. From the FAQ, Google WiFi provides its users a secure Wireless internet experience by encrypting information. There is a small catch though. All traffic would be routed through Google's servers. As of now, the service is still in a Beta Stage (Translation : Google hasn't figured out how to make money from this service yet) and available in only certain parts of SFO. Google is well on its way to upstage Microsoft and become the new EVIL corporation. More info on CNN.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Unleashed - Google Blog Search

Google has launched yet another service (ho hum). It is called Google blog search. According to the FAQ, the backend index consists of blogs not only from the Blogger archives (owned by google) but also a variety of other sources.


This afternoon, I tuned into NPR for over an hour to check on Senator John Roberts' 'interview' with the senate judicial committee. It was an interesting experience. Having never written a legal brief myself, I could not comprehend most of the legal jargon. But I was really amazed by the fact that the senators who were quizzing the potential 'CJ' knew a lot about the issues at stake themselves. I began to wonder about the parallel in India.

From high school civics I remember that the president of India appoints the judges to the supreme court. I googled for a while to see if a debate actually takes place to question the president's choice. Apparently, not. Isn't that surprising !!!.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Apple launches IPod Nano

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Help Katrina Victims

NEW ORLEANS: Graves at Greenwood and Metairie cemetaries mark the waterlineof the sheet of water that covered the city from Lake Pontchartrain to nearly the French Quarter on Tuesday

It was a heart-rending sight to watch the victims of Katrina on TV last night. There was a woman who was responsible for her cancer struck mother and her sick brother on a dialysis machine. There was another who was waiting for aid on a highway with her husband's corpse. Time and time again we are being reminded of the fact that we do not have an answer to nature's fury. Elsewhere in Iraq, more than a thousand people have died in a stampede. Death, Mayhem, Destruction, Turmoil. The images and stories are everwhere. On the TV, Radio and the newspapers. As a water resources engineer, I was even disheartened to realize that most of New Orleans is under water because of a levee breach. It is bittersweet that times like these offer us a chance to rise above our humdrum daily existence. If you are one of those who feel compelled to help the hurricane relief efforts, here are some resources:

American Redcross
KatrinaHelp Wiki Portal
Network for Good
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