Thursday, January 17, 2013

Robotic Spams – HELP!

A reader - Peldhen Sonam Nima (PSN) - made a comment on my post titled “Economic Crisis or Spending Fatigue?” and made a request to disable the Word Verification process - on the grounds that it made commenting cumbersome. I promptly complied and disabled the need for the Word Verification process at the end of a comment, before the comment can be submitted. 


Since then, my Blog posts have been lambasted with dozens of SPAMs. Fortunately, I moderate the comments - in the sense that I require every comment to be authorized by me - good, bad and the ugly. Therefore, the readers do not get to see all the trash being posted on my Blog because I do not allow their publication.

I suspected that it must be ROBOTIC SPAMMING. The spamming started with the deactivation of the Word Verification process - meaning that something or someone cannot spam if he/she/it is required to type a set of words. In an effort to understand what this was all about, I Googled and stumbled upon the following:

“Robotic spam are spam comments created by automated scripts/bots. They contribute to over 99% of comment spam in blogs. Comment spam has gained prominence due to the ease with which spamming operations can be scripted for large-scale campaigns. Most robotic spams either try to spam by submitting comment form or by using trackbacks. Comment Guard Pro stops all kind of robotic spams from reaching your blog”. 

I have a mind to reactive the Word Verification requirement - once again. But I wonder if I should - because that would inconvenience my readers and commentators. Well I think for now, I will keep it disabled since if any one were to suffer inconvenience - it might as well be me - so my readers can have an enjoyable experience. I will keep on removing the SPAMs as they appear. If it gets too difficult, I will have to think of installing the software mentioned above - Comment Guard Pro. But I do not have a Credit Card to make the purchase!!!! GRRRRR.

I GIVE UP!!!!. The spamming has gotten too heavy .... so I am reinstating the Word Verification.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Human Creative Mind Is Still King

I pursue a purist form of photography. This means that I like to photograph and present my subjects in its most natural form - as God made them. That is probably why, I loathe doing human portraiture because the modern face is most often subjected to melodramatic transformations through the use of massive doses of complex chemical compounds.

In 99.999% of my photographs, you will also not see any objects of modern manufacture such as cars, lamp posts, hoardings and billboards. I like to photograph objects of beauty and harmony - one that gives a viewer a sense of calm and tranquility, of beauty and space, a feeling of unbridled freedom and liberty.

But in these digital times when technology is threatening to crush human artistry, as in everything else, purists like me need to come to terms with the fact that keeping step with the changing trends is critical. It is that or, I have to be prepared to be left behind.

Photography used to be about patience, technical skill, hard work and a person’s inherent artistic qualities. No longer. It is now all about one’s skill at manipulation in the digital darkroom. One no longer needs to be a skilled photographer but a competent digital darkroom specialist. One has to be good at photographic manipulation software - you need no other skill to churn out breathtaking photographs.

A skillful Adobe PhotoShoper can, most realistically, park the DrukAir’s jet in the parking lot of Tashichho Dzong. The Tashi Taj, swarmed from all around by a cluster of concrete buildings, can be shown to be surrounded with lush green pine trees! Recently, a digital camera manufacturer announced a camera that can actually alter all the points of focus and a photograph's perspectives - on the computer, post shooting!

The following photograph shows a girl’s photo framed inside a silk/brocade mount. That is the best I can do - by way of manipulation. Am I going to learn any further digital tricks?

Nope - because I believe that it is the human mind that has created these masterful digital manipulation tools. That means that the human mind is still the MASTER CREATOR. No amount of digital mastery can beat the creativity of the human mind.

Is it possible to create - digitally - the hauntingly sombre look of the girl in the photo? IMPOSSIBLE!

This pretty little girl was photographed in her classroom at Jigme Losel School, Chubachu

Monday, January 14, 2013

Taking Long to Write Short

Ms. Madeline Drexler, an award winning author and editor at the Harvard Public Health Review and a Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism writes to me to explain the art of effective writing. The following is how she explains it to me:

--- “Shorter is better aesthetically, as well. The text will be more dynamic, it will move more swiftly. It actually takes more time to write sharp and pithy prose - rewriting and rewriting - but the final product is stronger and more artful.

The literary quote that has been ascribed to Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and others goes like this:

Forgive me for writing such a long letter. I didn't have time to be brief."

How true! The best way to hold the attention of your readers and to ensure that they have the patience to read through your writing to its end, is to keep your writing precise and as short as you can make it. Long-winding writings tend to lose readers mid way.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Economic Crisis or Spending Fatigue?

The permeation of the Bhutanese lingua franca, sometime towards the middle of 2012, by a two-letters term - economic crisis - has me baffled completely. Talk to any Bhutanese - educated, uneducated and anyone in between and he/she will tell you that the country is going through a severe “economic crisis”.

Ask them why we have a severe Indian Rupee shortage and they will tell you it is because of our economic crisis. Ask them why the banks have stopped giving out loans and they will grimly tell you that the country’s economy is in a bad way. Ask them why the DPT government will not win the upcoming elections with the same kind of resounding victory as they did in 2008, they will give the reason that it will be because the economy did poorly under their term. Ask any Bhutanese why the government has suspended the import of vehicles and they will tell you - it is because we are going through an economic crisis.

Every Bhutanese is quite merrily blaming the “economic crisis” for all our ongoing woes. However, ask them to explain "how" our “economic crisis” is at the core of our problems and they are perplexed - they do a vigorous head scratching! They have simply no idea why they have been parroting the belief that our troubles are due to our “economic crisis”.

Do we really have an economic crisis? Nope, we MOST DEFINITELY DO NOT! On the contrary, published figures show that we are among the top performers in the region, in terms of GDP growth. Our growth rate was: 6.7% in 2009; 10.6% in 2010; 5.9% in 2011 and it is estimated that we will achieve a growth rate in access of 7% for the year 2012.

So then who is putting out this ludicrous idea that we have an economic crisis? The answer: by people who are clueless about what constitutes economic crisis and by those who wish to paint a grim picture of the country and the performance of the government! They simply have no idea what the term means or, even if they do, they are deliberately spreading the misconception.

Two of our most important economic activities are related to those of tourism and hydro-power projects. Thank you very much but both of these sectors are hail and hearty - in fact, they have been growing by leaps and bounds. Our industrial output has not fallen; no factories have failed; there has been no labor unrest that hampered production. The government of India has not reneged on their committed financial support. So then, what is our problem?

In my understanding, we have been subjected to a disorder that can best be described as: SPENDING FATIGUE!!

People seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that the country has had to undertake colossal expenditures in the short span of the last four years - expenditures that were a severe drain on our reserves and yet, those that had to be made.

We had two very expensive (uncontrolled and lavish spending) elections to the Upper and the Lower Houses of the Parliament. We had a series of local government elections. We had a Centenary Celebrations. We had to Crown a King. We had a Royal Wedding. We had to host a SAARC Submit. If all that were not enough, we suffered unprecedented natural calamities, one after the other, all year round. All these were unavoidable expenses but they certainly caused a severe and destabilizing strain on our finances.

Please do not bell the wrong cat.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Changlemithang Football Ground

With the resurfacing of the football ground at the Changlemithang Stadium with artificial grass, playing football should be great. I did not see any policemen standing at the gates so I did not think that I would be denied entry into the grounds. The field looked simply great! I took some photos which is being posted here for your pleasure! Let me warn you though that I had the wrong camera. Regardless, I think the photos are not too bad, as a first attempt.

As long as some strange people do not take it upon themselves to impose a blanket ban on photography of the footballing events of the future, I think I want to go more often to catch some action.