Monthly Archives: January 2007

‘Hi, I’m Art Buchwald and I just died’


Art Buchwald, the renowned American humourist, who passed away on Thursday, wrote a final column that he asked not be distributed until after he died. The piece was written on February 8 last year shortly after Buchwald decided to check into a hospice. He eventually left the hospice, of course, and resumed his syndicated column.

Here’s the full text of his final column here: Buchwald’s Farewell Column, Written to Be Released at Death

Buchwald also announced his own death in a New York Times video obituary posted on the New York Times site. “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald, and I just died,” the late columnist tells Tim Weiner, the interviewer.

Watch Art Buchwald’s video obituary here

Jeff Jarvis says the idea of a video obit, getting people to talk first person about no longer being around, is an “absolutely wonderful idea“: “The final indignity could be having one’s obit edited. So maybe a video obit is the best idea.”

Quite a transformation from the age when Sumanta Sen, then with Reuters, went upto Satyajit Ray and asked him to vet his own obit for the new agency’s morgue!

‘If you want peace, prepare for war’

At a time when political correctnesses rages in our campuses, and everybody seems to smoke the collective peace pipe, Nobel laureate Professor Robert J Aumann‘s invocation of the Game Theory to explain why we need war is worth recounting again.

“If you want peace, you have to increase the cost of going to war for the other side. Lower the threshold by talking peace all the time, and you encourage the other side to go to war.

“What prevented the Cold War from getting hot, cracks Aumann, was the presence of bombers with nuclear bombs patrolling the skies!�”

“He invokes Winston Churchill who said, “If you want peace, prepare for war� It may sound facetious, but the fact that there’s been no world war in the last six decades should count for something.”

Read the full article here: War is peace

Seminar on news agency journalism

KANCHAN KAUR writes: The Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media is organising a seminar on news agency journalism titled “Guarding the LoC around the World” on Monday, January 22, in Bangalore. LoC here standing not for Line of Control but line of credibility.

The day-long seminar will be held at the Rotary House of Friendship on Lavelle Road from 9.30 am to 4 pm, and the keynote speakers are Phil Smith, South Asia editor of Reuters, and Margaret Hicks, group production editor of Press Association.

The morning session from 10 am to 12.30 pm will involve a presentation on how news agency journalism works, what’s distinct about it, the evolution and challenges. The afternoon session from 1.30 pm to close will focus on diversification in operations and new career opportunities.

What J-schools and students should do

Long time web journalist Howard Owens, director of digital publishing at Gatehouse Media Inc, has interesting advice for journalism schools and journalism students.

“Students and faculty should just assume their future is online, and design curriculum and publication efforts accordingly—be even more dismissive of print than mainstream publications are right now.”

Asked by the Innovations in College Media blog as to what journalism students and student journalists should do, Owens has a two-piece advice: blog, shoot and edit video, but mainly blog:

Every student journalist should spend at least six months totally immersed in blogging. Start a blog and try to draw an audience. Do the things that bloggers need to do, read other blogs, create a blog roll, link to other blogs, post frequently on topics relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach (and read those blogs in that category), comment on other blogs. Learn to be a participant. That’s my advice to professional journalists, too: if you want to learn this culture, become a participant in it. It will totally change the way you think about media and online publishing.

Read the full article here: Howard Owens

Arise, Dr Nikhil Moro

Sans Serif is pleased to announce that Nikhil Moro, Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication at Kennesaw State University, Georgia, is now Dr Nikhil Moro.

The Yadavagiri man (seen above with his 2000-05 PhD dissertation advisor Dr Thomas A Schwartz) received his Ph.D. degree at the autumn commencement of Ohio State University in the presence of his proud mother, Hemlata Moro. Father Madhav Rao Moro couldn’t make it.

Nikhil’s dissertation comprises “a libertarian framework to address the libel threat faced by bloggers”, that is us, yes us. In other words, don’t try to sue Sans Serif; we know those who know the law!


View an extract of the dissertation here.

Read Nikhil Moro’s interview with Raju Narisetti, editor of Hindustan Times‘ new business paper here: Five reasons to be optimistic of Indian journalism

An open letter to the CEO of Prasar Bharti

TSEWANG RIGZIN writes from Leh


Sir, may I take the liberty to approach you regarding the present state of the All India Radio, Leh. You may be aware that AIR Leh has been the only medium in Ladakh and people of Leh Ladakh have relied upon this radio station for years for news—especially Ladakh’s own bulletin, programmes on health, education, religion, science and so on.

People of Leh, Ladakh are very proud to be Indians, and most of it is because of all the patriotic programmes that AIR catered to even the remotest areas of Ladakh in the last few decades.

In Ladakh even the poorest person would have a radio set.

Even when the world enters the digital era, people in Leh, with its 10 KW radio station, have experienced only degradation in the radio from content to reception in the past few years. AIR Leh, installed in 1971, has not been upgradated in terms of power and manpower till now.

Listeners keep approaching Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) to say that after 6 pm they don’t receive Leh radio either on shortwave or on mediumwave. According to them the shortwave reception in the borders areas like Changthang, Nubra and Sham has been worse particularly since November this year.

Engineers at the Leh radio station say that this could be because of the low-powered station.

But how is it worse this year particularly?

Bad reception of Leh radio on the border might lead people to listen to the programmes broadcast by the high-powered stations from across the borders. Moreover Leh is an important place from the strategic point of view having borders with Pakistan in the west and China in the east.

Hence we request you to kindly upgrade the power of this station. Some transmitters are installed at Khaltse, Nubra Diskit and Nyuma, but Nyuma and Nubra Diskit transmitters are yet to be commissioned.

We request you to kindly commission these transmitters and have the AIR Leh relayed through these transmitters. Some Digital Earth Stations may kindly be installed at different zones of Ladakh to uplink AIR Leh to those stations.

After Prasar Bharti went semi-corporate and autonomous, most programme staff and news editors are being appointed on contractual basis.

I had a meeting at AIR Leh on December 26, 2006 with its officials in which I came to know that most of the senior news editors and programme executives have retired and their replacements are still awaited—the radio today is left only with a handful of people which makes it difficult to manage all programmes smoothly.

Replacement of the station director is also awaited. I’m told that due to shortage of staff some programs such as ‘Ladakhi Tapsera’ Delchat that used to be one of the most informative programmes for years had to be cut. We request you to kindly re-start such programs.

We also request you to give Leh a relaxation in appointing editors and programme staff from the region itself who have good knowledge about Ladakh’s distinct Linguistic, social, and cultural conditions.

Government had sanctioned some heating arrangements at the residence of the employees posted at AIR Leh, keeping in view the harsh climatic conditions as prevalent in winter months in Ladakh but these facilities were gradually withdrawn. They are not even entitled to the incentives enjoyed by the employees posted in Kargil and Srinagar even though they serve in a climatic condition worse than Kargil and Srinagar. I request that provision of the heating facility be restored and incentives enjoyed by employees in Kargil and Srinagar be made entitled to the AIR employees posted at Leh also.

Lastly we request you that a team from Prasar Bharti may kindly be sent this winter itself to evaluate the radio reception and the situation under which the radio is functioning.

Yours truly

Tsewang Rigzin, executive councilor for education, art & culture, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh

Copy with similar request for necessary action to:

1. Priyaranjan Das Munshi, Hon’ble Minister for information and broadcasting, government of India.

2. Director General, All India Radio, Akashvani Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi

3. Engineer-in-Chief, All India Radio, Akashvani Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi

What happens when a monk meets a nun

Quick. Read the sentence below.


Did you find anything wrong with the sentence construction? If you pressed N, you are a heretic killer, a serial-comma killer.

If you pressed Y, as William Strunk, E B White, and The Chicago Manual of Style suggest you do, welcome to the club of those who believe the sentence in its correct form should have read:


That comma after Teresa is called the Oxford comma. For centuries, the English-speaking world has been split between the anally retentive who believe an extra comma should be inserted, and those who can’t spot the difference.

Read the exquisite post on The Laughorist: Let’s Stop Serial- Comma Killing Now

‘Blogging, best creative outlet I’ve ever had’

Scott Adams, the creator of the seriously smart Dilbert cartoon character and strip, has a fantastic blog, Dilbert.Blog. A couple of days ago, he answered dozens of questions from readers on cartooning and blogging.

Here are some of his illuminating responses on the latter.


Q. How do you decide about what you want to write in your blog every morning?

A. It’s whatever interests me that day. I have to be personally interested or it won’t come.

Q. Why do you do this blog day after day? Not that we don’t enjoy it, I just can’t see what you are getting out of it… day after day, smarmy retort after smarmy retort, the endless whining and moaning…etc. etc.

A. I enjoy it creatively. It’s nice to have no editor between me and you. And I’m not much affected by critics who are irrational or humorless.

Q. Why do you spend so much time on this blog? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading it, I just don’t see the value you derive from it compared to the time it takes.

A. It’s the best creative outlet I’ve ever had. It’s the first time I’ve ever written in my own unrestrained voice.

Q. How the hell do you come up with something interesting, witty, and funny to write about every single day? You’re like the bionic blogger! Seriously, do you have a backlog of posts, or do you actually write one a day?

A. I do one a day, usually. I just write what comes to mind.


Read the entire transcript: Answers to your questions

TV serials are obviously all about numbers

# Is 1782 to the power of 12 plus 1841 to the power of 12 equal to 1922 to the power of 12?

# What is the last digit when you calculate pi to 40,000 decimal places?

# What is so remarkable about the numbers, 3370318 and 2716057?

Seem like arcane questions. But, hang on, creators of the animated television serial The Simpsons are sneaking mathematical references like Fermat‘s theorem and the Bridges-of-Königsberg problem to “exaggerate both the mathematical illiteracy of the public and the nerdiness and self-aggrandizement of the mathematically gifted.”

Read the full story: Springfield Theory

Also visit: Math Trek, Simpsonmath