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Samit Basu

A planet called xena

Lucy Lawless

Gentlemen, rewrite your textbooks ' there’s a new planet in town, and you can call it 2003 UB313. What’s most fascinating about this new planet so far is its name ' Xena, after the leather-clad monster-kicking Nineties TV action heroine played by Lucy Lawless. Astrologers should take note ' this is clearly the planet that governs dominatrices, horse-riders and people who like saying ‘I-yi-yi.’. It’s a fabulous name, marrying the tradition of naming planets after Roman mythological characters with the acceptance of mass media as a modern myth-maker. And it proves yet again that scientists often have a wonderful sense of humour. I hope they make the name official. Wonder what would have happened if an Indian had discovered it, though ' would they have named it Jassi' Or Lola-kutty'

It’s raining blogs

After the first cloudburst a week ago threw Mumbai into despair, a number of mediapersons in the city were dismayed to find that coverage of the disaster in some of the city’s most popular newspapers hinged on stupid interviews with inane celebrities on their feelings about not getting their favourite newspaper in the morning ' and supremely inconsequential celebrity survivor accounts of the deluge. There was only one solution ' they took matters into their own hands and started collaborative blogs. Cloudburst Mumbai (http://cloudburstmumbai. blogspot.com ) and Mumbai Help (http://mumbaihelp.com) are both blogs that compile news, links, individual stories and contacts for relief efforts, brought to you by some of India’s best bloggers. Peter Griffin, who started the Tsunami Help blog, which won international recognition for the excellence of its resource collection in aid of tsunami victims, is co-founder of both these blogs. Read, and help if you can.

Pre-film publicity in india is slowly becoming an art form. The latest ' newspaper articles stating that Amisha Patel’s absence at publicity events for the upcoming mega-release The Rising is because the producers want to keep her appearance a surprise. Right.

Of witches and wizards

J.K. Rowling’s recent comments in the Time magazine implying that Harry Potter wasn’t really fantasy fiction have got bestselling British author Terry Pratchett mightily annoyed. He responded, “I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds, jumping chocolate frogs, owl mail, magic food, ghosts, broomsticks and spells would have given her a clue'”

Book talk

Amartya Sen

Prof. Amartya Sen, described by his friend of 50 years, the PM, as ‘a great pathfinder’ recently released his new book, The Argumentative Indian, a fabulous collection of well-thought, crisply written essays on subjects ranging from the economy to Tagore, democracy and the Gita. The Delhi launch was star-studded but strange ' many people at the pathfinder’s launch had lost their way completely ' audience questions included “Who are more argumentative, Indian men or Indian women'” Perhaps they were examining the central thesis of the book ' that India’s tradition of plurality originates from a long history of debate and argument.

AWARD OF THE WEEK

Award

To Bitu Gandhi, a teenager from Rajkot who’s trying to enter the Guinness Book by walking with his heels twisted almost completely backwards. I foresee a lucrative career for him in politics.

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