Your Ancestors Were African

One of my enduring interests has been evolutionary biology. It is a fascinating subject. Much of the credit for that goes to Richard Dawkins who is perhaps the best known writer on the subject, for making it so approachable. His book Selfish Gene, is a must read for anyone who wants to begin exploring this exciting subject. His latest book is God Delusion. As you can imagine, evolutionary biology and organized religion don’t get along.


Annoyed Reader

Annoyed posted a comment that needed a response. The response got big (and important) enough to be posted to the blog.

Annoyed’s well argued point is that if you want to have a well regarded blog (who doesn’t?) you have to respond to comments with greater frequency. I do realize that. Without responding to comments enough, one can’t create the watering-hole-of-like-minded-people kind of community around the blog. My responses are spotty (although up from none in the first 6 months!). Should I be responding to comments more?

Here’s the rub – responding to comments takes time. And comments can come in anytime during the week, not just the weekend, which is when I typically write. I run a startup – that’s my job and passion (blogging is just a passion). I travel a lot. Over the week I simply cannot guarantee a service level on comment response. I think it is best not to set that expectation.

That’s my side of it. But Annoyed’s comment raises a more interesting point. Can you be a serious blogger if you don’t respond to comments adequately? Maybe not, but I think there are no rules on this one. Seth Godin writes a very popular and well-regarded (not always the same thing) blog. He doesn’t allow any comments on the blog. Period. His explanation is here. TechCrunch has an interesting post and discussion on whether a blog must have comments. The sense I get is that there are no rules, just guidelines.

I typically post just once a week, not twice or thrice a week, which seems to be the guideline for an active blog. I often post long article-length posts (again not recommended). And I respond to comments infrequently. I have made my choices and I am cool with it. And I think as long as I am consistent with my ‘service levels’ my readers are cool with it too.

Thanks…and Happy New Year

Dear readers,

Happy New Year. May this new year bring us the wisdom and humanity to make the world around us a better place for us and our children.

My first post on this blog was on January 3rd 2006. On this first anniversary, I want to thank you, my readers for your encouragement. That there are people out there who come back to read what I write, after having read something before on the blog and then deciding that it was worth visiting again, is quite humbling.

I would love to get some feedback. Topics, style, comments, blogsite – anything that you think could improve your experience. I have recently added some things. You can get an RSS feed of course, but you can also get the posts via email. I have been getting better about responding to comments, but perhaps I will never be as prompt and prolific as professional bloggers.

Thanks for reading!

A Higher Intelligence

Bottlenose dolphin at San Antonio SeaWorld

Last week was down time. Vacationed in San Antonio with the family. Quite a nice family destination with a little bit of everything thrown in.

At the San Antonio SeaWorld observed a most amazing thing. At the Dolphin Cove, visitors were allowed to interact directly with a set of bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins were within pettable distance and some people were petting them. But the dolphins seemed less interested in ‘affection’ and more in ‘play’. They would stop near you and stick themselves out of the water, like in the photo above or splash water on some people.

The guy next to me decided that he’d like a closer encounter. When a dolphin stood up in the water, much as the dolphin above is doing, he reached and tickled him under the chin (or snout). The dolphin took it for a few seconds and then suddenly feinted a bite with his snout. The man pulled his arm back like lightning. Upon which, the dolphin started tittering. I have no other word to describe what it was doing. Snout open, it was basically having a good laugh!

I consider humour a sign of intelligence. At that moment, that dolphin’s IQ was higher than a few humourless human beings that most of us have the misfortune of knowing.

For more on dolphin intelligence click here and here. coverage

6 AM Pacific, this blog, got some ink on Andrew Leonard in his blog about globalization, ‘How the World Works’ calls the post Imperial conference calls

He says –

Six a.m. Pacific might be the best time for a global conference call because everyone, everywhere that counts, is theoretically awake at that time, but there’s little question whom that time is really best for. The early bird gets the globalization worm. The sun sets on global conference calls, but it rises in Silicon Valley. For the moment.

You don’t need a subscription to see the full article. It’ll want you to watch an ad, which you can abort and move ahead by clicking on ‘Go to’. is a critically acclaimed online magazine and I appreciate the coverage, but it has has had one downside. It has brought the blog to the attention of ‘comment spammers’ and I am having a hard time keeping the blog comments from becoming rated R. Thanks anyhow Mr. Leonard!

My Mother-in-law Blogs!

It’s true. And it is a great blog!

Geeta Padmanabhan is Deputy Editor of the Ability Foundation. In her spare time she also writes for the Hindu Metroplus – Chennai (her articles here) as a free lance journalist and writes English grammar books. After all this, she still finds the time to be a prolific blogger on her own blog – Grandma’s Tales.

Those of us who know Geeta, admire her energy and zest for life. She brings that passion for life and for good writing to her blog. Grandma’s Tales is a unique mix of observations about the English language (in the style of Eats, Shoots and Leaves) and life in general.

You’ll like it.

New Blogsite

If you are reading this post, you have found your way to the new home of my blog So far I have been using Typepad’s service which has worked well for my early needs. But now that I have been blogging for a few months, I want to try out some things that Typepad, or any other consumer oriented service doesn’t offer.

My new blog runs on a customized installation of WordPress. WordPress is an open source blogging software. You can also get a hosted service from, but one that is a little limiting like Typepad’s service. I plan to customize WordPress to offer some new features and a slicker look in the future, but currently I’ve got it working well enough that I felt I could transition my readers to the new blogsite.

As I move the blogsite, this is also a good time to thank my readers. Thank you, you make writing worthwhile.


Bizarre Bullet

Last week the most bizarre thing happened. We found a bullet embedded in our roof. This will take some explaining so let me get down to it.

We have these solar coils on our roof that heat the swimming pool. Water is pumped up into these coils made of black PVC like material where it gets heated by the sun and then goes into the pool. It doesn’t use photovoltaic cells which coverts solar energy into electricity. It has worked well so far.

Last week my wife noticed water leaking and called the company that installed it for us. The technician went up on the roof. He fixed the leak and then brought down this most interesting artifact – a two inch length of tubing with a bullet in it.


The Future of Business English

If you are in India you probably hear the phrase ‘Tell me’ many times a week from someone who just answered your call. The phone conversation goes something like this. ‘Hi, this is Basab.’ The other guy says ‘Oh hi Basab. Tell me.’

‘Tell me’ is a literal translation of ‘Bolo’ in Hindi or something equivalent in other Indian languages. This is a uniquely Indian phrase. Good English would require ‘Tell me’ to have an object at the end of it. Like ‘Tell me why’ or ‘Tell me something’.