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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

You may not be a "Dhrutharashtra", but we want to be the Sanjaya for you!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Is Mallya Also From Mars?!

Recently, we at the 108 Sullu World H.Q. were reading an article by our favorite writer Mr.Vishveshwara Bhat. An article about Mr.Vijay Mallya. The following lines in that article intrigued us.
"ಕೆಲ ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಸದರ್ನ್ ಕ್ಯಾಲಿಫೋರ್ನಿಯಾ ವಿಶ್ವವಿದ್ಯಾಲಯ ವಿಜಯ ಮಲ್ಯಗೆ ಗೌರವ ಡಾಕ್ಟರೇಟ್ ಪದವಿ ನೀಡಿದಾಗ ನಾವೆಲ್ಲಾ ಜೋಕು ಮಾಡಿ ಅವರನ್ನು ಆಡಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದೆವು."
We at 108 Sullu World H.Q. are not journalists. So, if something intrigues us, we don't joke around. To be fair, unlike a real newspaper with paying customers and numerous employees, we are a lonely bunch. To be specific ours is a single-man operation.

Since we couldn't joke around, what did we do? We tried to do the next best thing. We tried to find the whereabouts of this "Southern California University".

Having lived in US for the past 16 years and having studied there we know a little bit about the universities in US. Not a whole lot. Just a little bit.

Having never heard of "Southern California University", we thought about the possibility of Mr.Bhat having his facts wrong. If you are a regular reader of our blog, not exactly an illogical conclusion.

So we decided to check. And check, we did. We visited some of Mr.Mallya's websites. Examples: this and this. And they also said that Mr.Mallya got his honorary Ph.D. from "Southern California University".

Having satisfied with Mr.Bhat's possible sources on this matter, we then started searching for this "Southern California University". We found no such university.

The closest we found were "Southern California University of Professional Studies" and "Southern California University of Health Sciences". While the second one is a small school that teaches Acupuncture and Chiropractice, the first one is a for profit trade school that is "100% Online" requires "No Attendance". Hardly the schools a billionaire would brag about.

More interestingly we also found a "Southern California University" in a document prepared by the Michigan state government. Here is what the document says about "Southern California University" (as well as the "Southern California University for Professional Studies") among other such colleges and universities:

"This is a listing of colleges and universities which are not currently accredited by an accrediting body of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Degrees from these institutions will not be accepted by the Department of Civil Service as satisfying any educational requirements indicated on job specifications. Please note that this list is not all inclusive; unaccredited schools will be added as we become aware of them."
A bit more looking around yielded this reference to the "Southern California University":

"DipScam's largest case came to its grand finale in a federal courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, in October 1987, with John present as an expert witness and observer. On trial were the seven perpetrators of a long string of degree mills, most recently including Roosevelt University, Loyola University, Cromwell University, University of England at Oxford, Lafayette University, DePaul University, and Southern California University, as well as several fake accrediting agencies."
While Mr.Bhat and at least some of Mr.Mallya's own websites say that Mr.Mallya -- or should we say Dr.Mallya?-- got his honorary doctorate from "Southern California University", there are other websites which say that this award was conferred on him by the "University of California, Irvine". Examples: Forbes.com and SECINFO.COM

However, when we contacted University of California, Irvine about this degree, here is what we received from them:

"Please be aware that the University of California, Irvine does not award honorary degrees, nor does is (sic) award a Ph.D. in Business Administration."

As per UB Group's corporate website, Mr.Mallya was awarded this honorary degree by yet another university. This time it is the prestigious University of Southern California (USC).

We contacted USC. We also contacted the P.R. department of the U.B. Group. But, till now we have not heard anything back from either one of them.

Is there a simple explanation for all this confusion? Or, is this just another case of Martian Syndrome à la "Dr." John Gray? Or, -- since the same information is also used in some government filings -- an attempt to mislead investors and other business folks?

We are just asking questions.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಏಕಿಲ್ಲ?!

ಓದುಗ ಮಿತ್ರರಾದ "ವಿಶ್ವಪುಟ" ಬ್ಲಾಗಿನ ಶ್ರೀ ವಿಶ್ವನಾಥ ಬಸವನಾಳಮಠ ಒಂದು ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಯನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇದೇ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಇತರ ಓದುಗರ ಮನದಲ್ಲೂ ಸುಳಿದಿರಬಹುದೆಂಬ ಅನಿಸಿಕೆಯಿಂದ, ಶ್ರೀ ಬಸವನಾಳಮಠ ಅವರ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಮತ್ತು ನನ್ನ ಉತ್ತರವನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

ಶ್ರೀ ಬಸವನಾಳಮಠರವರ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ:
ಕನ್ನಡ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳ ಕುರಿತ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಟೀಕೆ ಟಿಪ್ಣಣಿಗಳು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಏಕೆ ಇರುವುದಿಲ್ಲ?
ನನ್ನ ಉತ್ತರ:


ನನ್ನ ಬ್ಲಾಗಿಗೆ ಭೇಟಿ ಇತ್ತದ್ದಕ್ಕೆ ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು.

ಇನ್ನು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗೆ ಉತ್ತರ. ಒಂದೇ ಪದದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಳ ಬೇಕೆಂದರೆ: ಸೋಮಾರಿತನ.

ನನ್ನ ಬ್ಲಾಗನ್ನು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದಾಗ ಯೂನಿಕೋಡ್ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆಯುವ ಸಾಧ್ಯತೆ ಇದೆಯೆಂದು ನನಗೆ ತಿಳಿದಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆಯಲು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದೆ. ಅದರ ಜೊತೆಗೆ, ಕಳೆದ ೧೮ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಹೊರಗೆ (೧೬ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಭಾರತದ ಹೊರಗೆ) ವಾಸಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವುದರಿಂದ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆಯಲು ಕಷ್ಟವೆನಿಸಿತು. ಚಕ್ಕನೆ ಹೊಳೆಯುವ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಪದಗಳ ಕನ್ನಡ ಅವತರಣಿಕೆಗೆ ಪದೇ ಪದೇ ಡಿಕ್ಷನರಿ ಮೊರೆ ಹೋಗುವುದು ತೊಂದರೆ ಎನಿಸಿತು.

ನಾನಿನ್ನೂ ಭಾರತದ ಹೊರಗೇ ವಾಸಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೂ, ಯೂನಿಕೋಡ್ ಮೂಲಕ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆಯುವ ವಿಧಾನ ಈಗ ನನಗೆ ತಿಳಿದಿದೆ. ಆದರೆ, ಸೋಮಾರಿತನ ಮಾತ್ರ ಇನ್ನೂ ಉಳಿದಿದೆ.



Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kannada Prabha Needs A 10 Year Old Girl Or A 40+ Year Old Man

Dear readers, we are a pretty old fashioned bunch; we expect a certain skepticism in our journalists. In fact, we don't even mind a bit of healthy cynicism.

If you are like us, then we are pretty sure that you would be completely disappointed by this article about "Pranic Healing" in Kannada Prabha. We are not sure whether the writer of that article or Kannada Prabha got paid by the "Pranic Healers" or not. But it sure does read like an advertisement.

You may be wondering about what's all this got to do with a 10 year old girl. Don't worry. We sure will get to that topic. But, before that, we will write about the 40+ year old man. A man by name...Ravi Belagere.

A couple of months back the entire staff of 108 Sullu World H.Q. was in Bangalore. At that time we got a chance to watch an episode of Mr.Belagere's Crime Diary. The episode we watched was about a quack who was defrauding desperate AIDS/HIV patients by selling them essentially snake oil. The episode was highly entertaining. For sure it was a classic case of "gotcha journalism". But, it did unmask a conman.

Is "Pranic Healing" any different from the snake-oil that conman was peddling? We do not know. (Actually, we think so. But, that's only our opinion.) So, when we don't know, what do we do? Of course, we ask questions. Call us old-fashioned, but, if some one is claiming all sorts of health benefits for patients suffering from cold and fever to cancer, we really want to find out whether the claims have any scientific basis or not. Then again, we are not reporting for Kannada Prabha. And our name is not Devadatta Joshi.

To be fair, Mr.Joshi asks some questions. Unfortunately they are not the kind a skeptical journalist would ask.

First he writes:
ಮನುಷ್ಯ ಕೇವಲ ಮೂಳೆ, ಮಾಂಸಗಳಿಂದ ಮಾಡಲ್ಪಟ್ಟ ಭೌತಿಕ ಶರೀರ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ. ಆತನ ಒಳಗೆ ಮತ್ತು ದೇಹದ ಸುತ್ತ ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸಿರುವ ಪ್ರಾಣ ತುಂಬಿದ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮ ಶರೀರವೊಂದಿದೆ. ಈ ಶರೀರವೇ ಪ್ರಾಣಮಯ ಶರೀರ.
As per Mr.Joshi we human beings are not just made of flesh and bones, but each of us have a "life filled" (ಪ್ರಾಣ ತುಂಬಿದ) tiny/microscopic/unseen body (ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮ ಶರೀರ) in and around our physical bodies. Really?! Where did this scientific fact come from? Oh, sorry!! We forgot. We are reading a newspaper article here. It's our fault to expect factual basis for statement like these.

So, how does this "Pranic Healing" work?

After establishing the existence of this "Prana Shakti" , Mr.Joshi provides the scientific explanation:
ರೋಗ ಗುಣ ಹೇಗೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯ?
ಪ್ರಾಣಶಕ್ತಿ ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದ್ದರೂ ಮಾನವನಿಗೆ ಅದನ್ನು ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಹೊಂದಾಣಿಕೆ ಮಾಡಲಾಗುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಲ್ಲದೆ, ಆತನಿಗೆ ದಿನನಿತ್ಯದ ಏರುಪೇರುಗಳು, ಮಾನಸಿಕ ಅಥವಾ ಭಾವನಾತ್ಮಕ ಒತ್ತಡಗಳು, ಕ್ರಿಮಿ ಕೀಟಗಳು ಅಥವಾ ಪರಿಸರ ಮಾಲಿನ್ಯದಿಂದ ಶರೀರದಲ್ಲಿನ ಪ್ರಾಣದ ಸರಾಗ ಚಲನೆಗೆ ಅಡ್ಡಿಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದಲೇ ಧ್ಯಾನ, ಯೋಗ, ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥನೆ ಮೂಲಕ ಪ್ರಾಣಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಆತ ಪ್ರವಹಿಸಿಕೊಂಡರೆ ಮನಸ್ಸು ಶಾಂತವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿನ ರೋಗ ರುಜಿನುಗಳು ಗುಣವಾಗುವ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚುತ್ತದೆ. ವಿಶೇಷವೆಂದರೆ, ಇತರ ಕೆಲ ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸಾ ವಿಧಾನಗಳಂತೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ರೋಗಿಯ ಮೈಮುಟ್ಟಿ ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸೆ ಮಾಡಲಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.
In essence, by facilitating the "free flow" (ಸರಾಗ ಚಲನೆ) of this unseen "Prana Shakti" -- that's within us and around us --, "Pranic Healing" enhances the healing quality of our bodies. If this "Prana Shakti" is within us and around us, where's it flowing to, you ask? Please don't. Don't you want to write for Kannada Prabha?!

Surely there must be some explanation for it's ability to "heal" (not "cure") dreaded diseases like cancer, you say? Ok. Here is the explanation:
ಕ್ಯಾನ್ಸರ್‌ನಿಂದ ಬಳಲುತ್ತಿರುವ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಪ್ರಾಣ ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸೆಯ ಮೊರೆ ಹೋದರೆ, ಆತನಲ್ಲಿ ರೋಗನಿರೋಧಕ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯ ಹೆಚ್ಚುತ್ತ ಹೋಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಹೀಗಾಗಿ ಆತ ಯಾವುದಾದರೂ ಔಷಧ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೆ ಅದರ ಸೇವನೆಯ ಪ್ರಮಾಣವನ್ನು ದಿನದಿಂದ ದಿನಕ್ಕೆ ತಗ್ಗಿಸುತ್ತ ಹೋಗಬಹುದು. ದೇಹಕ್ಕೆ ಔಷದಿಯ ಅಗತ್ಯವೂ ಕಮ್ಮಿಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಪ್ರಾಣ ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸೆಯಿಂದ ಆತನಲ್ಲಿನ ರೋಗ ಗುಣ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯ ಹೆಚ್ಚುತ್ತದೆ.
The explanation is, "Pranic Healing" increases the immunity (ರೋಗನಿರೋಧಕ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯ ) of our bodies and the patient can start reducing the dosage of the medicines he takes. Forget about how and why. By now, you sure know you can't ask such questions. Let us accept that "Pranic Healing" somehow increases the body's immunity. Now, does it really help cancer patients?

The answer to that question is actually a few clicks away from that article. Yes, right there in Kannada Prabha. This time in an article written by Dr.Cheluvanarayana Swamy. A real doctor. A doctor who seems to know what he is talking about. Here it is:
ರೋಗನಿರೋಧ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಬಲಗೊಳಿಸಿದರೆ ಕ್ಯಾನ್ಸರ್ ಮರುಕಳಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.

ಇದು ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಸುಳ್ಳು. ಕೆಮೋಥೆರಪಿಯಿಂದ ರೋಗನಿರೋಧಕ ಶಕ್ತಿ ಕುಸಿಯುತ್ತದೆ. ಆದರೆ ಕ್ಯಾನ್ಸರ್ ವಾಸಿಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಹೀಗಾಗಿ ರೋಗ ನಿರೋಧಕ ಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಬಲಪಡಿಸುವುದರಿಂದ ಕ್ಯಾನ್ಸರ್ ಬರುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಅಥವಾ ಮರುಕಳಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಅನ್ನುವ ವಾದದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುರುಳಿಲ್ಲ ಅನ್ನುವುದು ವೈದ್ಯ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ.
Unfortunately, while You and We read what's in Kannada Prabha. It's too much to ask the editors of Kannada Prabha for doing the same.

The rest of the article continues in a similar vein. For a guy who seem to care not too much about all the "how" and "why" details of this latest "therapy", Mr.Joshi is very scrupulous about providing the "where" details. He gives you the full address and the telephone number of the "Pranic Healing Foundation of Karnataka".

Now about the 10 year old girl.

While "therapies" like "Pranic Healing" may be new to Kannada Prabha, they themselves are not that new. These "therapies" claim that our bodies are surrounded by a "force field" and by manipulating this "force field" a person's health could be improved or changed.

In 1998 a 10 year old American girl by name Emily Rosa came up with a simple test. Keeping aside the manipulation part, her project tested the abilities of these "therapists" to detect the existence of this so called "force field" (akin to "Prana Shakti").

From a CNN report:

Emily set up a cardboard screen through which practitioners put their hands. With their sight blocked, she asked them to identify which of their hands was near one of hers.

The 21 practitioners chose the correct hand 44 percent of the time. That was slightly less than the 50 percent chance they would have had of choosing the correct hand by guessing, authors said.

Emily Rosa's findings were later published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

We can't say we are big fans of Mr.Belagere. But, in the case of AIDS con-man, Mr.Belagere's brand of journalism was not only entertaining, it also did some public good. One certainly can't say that about this particular article in Kannada Prabha.

Don't you think Kannada Prabha would have been served well by a 10 year old girl like Emily Rosa or a 40+ year old Belagere?

By the way, if you want to read about "ಪ್ರಾಣಿಕ್ ಸ್ಟೀಲಿಂಗ್", you know what to do here.

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