the brave and the bold

A former factory worker from the British Midlands may be the last living master of the centuries-old Sikh battlefield art of shastar vidya. The father of four is now engaged in a full-time search for a successor.


The basis of shastar vidya, the “science of weapons” is a five-step movement: advance on the opponent, hit his flank, deflect incoming blows, take a commanding position and strike.

It was developed by Sikhs in the 17th Century as the young religion came under attack from hostile Muslim and Hindu neighbours, and has been known to a dwindling band since the British forced Sikhs to give up arms in the 19th Century.

Nidar Singh, a 44-year-old former food packer from Wolverhampton, is now thought to be the only remaining master. He has many students, but shastar vidya takes years to learn and a commitment in time and energy that doesn’t suit modern lifestyles.

“I’ve travelled all over India and I have spoken to many elders, this is basically a last-ditch attempt to flush someone out because if I die with it, it is all gone.”

how to disappear two nobel medals (and bring them back)

When the Nazis invaded Copenhagen in 1940, physicist Niels Bohr was in possession of two Nobel Prize medals. But they were not his medals. The first belonged to Max von Laue, winner of the 1914 Prize for physics, the second to James Franck, the physics winner in 1925.

Not wanting to attract unwanted attention to themselves, each had sent his medal to Bohr’s lab in Copenhagen for safekeeping. But with Nazis marching through the streets of the city, the medals now posed a particularly serious threat to Bohr. NPR’s Robert Krulwich writes:

Inconveniently, [these medals were] now sitting in Bohr’s building, clearly inscribed “Von Laue”…and “Franck” — like two death warrants. Bohr’s institute had attracted and protected Jewish scientists for years. The Nazis knew that, and Niels Bohr knew (now that Denmark was suddenly part of the Reich) that he was a target. He had no idea what to do.

On the day the Nazis came to Copenhagen, a Hungarian chemist named Georgy de Hevesy (he would one day win a Nobel of his own) was working in Bohr’s lab. He wrote later, “I suggested that we should bury the medal(s),” but Bohr thought no, the Germans would dig up the grounds, the garden, search everywhere in the building. Too dangerous.

So Hevesy’s thoughts turned to chemistry. Maybe he could make the medals disappear. He took the first one, he says, and “I decided to dissolve it. While the invading forces marched in the streets of Copenhagen, I was busy dissolving Laue’s and also James Franck’s medals.”

It was a painstakingly slow process (gold is a notoriously stable element), but Hevesy managed to pull it off; when the Nazis ransacked Bohr’s institute, they found no trace of the medals.
Or rather, they never noticed them. The gold from the two medals had been dissolved into a bright orange, but otherwise unassuming, liquid. A liquid that the Nazis left untouched. A liquid that Hevesey later extracted the gold from and sent back to the Nobel Foundation to have recast into two brand-spanking-new medals.

The moral of the story? Science wins, bitches.

Check out the full story on how Hevesy saved the day, including a video on how to dissolve gold, over at NPR

The Beloved

Dawood (alayhis salam) and his son, Sulaiman (alayhis salam) were not only prophets, but also kings of the people of Israel. They were both known for their strength, wisdom, judgement, and devotion to Allah.

Before Dawood (alayhis salam) became king, Talut (Saul) was the king of Israel. When he set out with his army to fight Jalut (Goliath) and his forces, he tested his soldiers by telling them not to drink from a river which they were crossing. Only a small sip of water out of the hand was allowed. But only a very few men passed the test. With that small band of obedient soldiers, Talut prepared to meet the larger and stronger army of Jalut. The men put their faith in Allah, knowing that size and numbers were no match for a steadfast faith in the power of Allah. Dawood , who was a very young man in Talut’s army, killed Jalut. After that, Jalut’s army fell apart, and the small band of Israelites was victorious.

Dawood (alayhis salam) , besides being brave and wise, was known for his wonderful voice, which he used to sing the praises of Allah. When he sang, the mountains and valleys and all of nature seemed to join in. It was to him that the holy book, Zabur, was given by Allah. It is a book of songs praising Allah.

Allah also showed Dawood (alayhis salam) the art of making iron, so that he was able to make suits of armor to protect his soldiers.

The prophet Muhammad ??? ???? ???? ???? used to say, according to the traditions of Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4: 631), that the most beloved fasting to Allah was that of Dawood (alayhis salam), who used to fast on alternate days. And the most beloved prayer was that of Dawood (alayhis salam). He would sleep the first half of the night; then he would pray for one-third of the night, before going back to sleep for the remaining one-sixth of the night.

Dawood (alayhis salam) was a wise and just judge of disputes which arose in his kingdom, but his son Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam) surpassed him in the ability to provide a fair judgement.

In one tradition (Bukhari, Vol.4; 637), there were two women, each of whom had a child. One child was stolen and devoured by a wolf. Each woman claimed that it was the other woman’s child who was taken. They brought the case to Dawood (alayhis salam) and he judged that the older woman should have the remaining child. Then they went to Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam). He called for a knife, so that he could cut the child in half and give half to each woman. But the younger woman, who could not bear to see her child cut in half, cried out that the child belonged to the other woman. Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam) then gave the child to the younger woman.

In another story, referred to in the Quran (21: 78) a man’s flock of sheep strayed into a farmer’s field at night, destroying the crops that had been growing there. The case was brought before Dawood (alayhis salam), who awarded the flock of sheep to the farmer as restitution for damages. But Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam) suggested another solution, which would repay the farmer without ruining the herdsman. Prophet Sulaiman ruled that the farmer would keep the sheep and use their milk and wool, until the herdsman had restored the damaged field to its original condition. When that had been done, the flock would be returned to the herdsman.

Both Dawood (alayhis salam) and Sulaiman (alayhis salam), although powerful and rich, never ceased to acknowledge that all their gifts were from Allah. They remained obedient to Allah and used their power to follow Allah’s will.

You can read about Dawood (alayhis salam) and Sulaiman (alayhis salam) in the Quran 2:249-251; 21: 78-82; 34: 10-14; 38: 17-26, 30-40.

so…ummm…this happened

then this happened. what is interesting to note is that even though it’s easy to blame the *cough* user *cough* for being a ditz about not knowing what she is buying, the problems never originated from the operating system itself, but the third parties involved with the OS, i.e., Verizon and MATC. this is a fact that neither report either mentions or barely glosses over.


“Good afternoon, madam. How may I help   you?”
“Good afternoon. I’d like a FrintArms HandCannon, please.”
“A–? Oh, now, that’s an awfully big gun for such a lovely lady. I mean, not  everybody thinks ladies should carry  guns at all, though I say they have a  right to. But I think… I might…  Let’s have a look down here. I might  have just the thing for you. Yes, here  we are! Look at that, isn’t it neat?  Now that is a FrintArms product as  well, but it’s what’s called a laser —  a light-pistol some people call them.  Very small, as you see; fits easily  into a pocket or bag; won’t spoil the  line of a jacket; and you won’t feel  you’re lugging half a tonne of iron  around with you. We do a range of  matching accessories, including — if I  may say so — a rather saucy garter  holster. Wish I got to do the fitting  for that! Ha — just my little joke.  And there’s *even*… here we are —  this special presentation pack: gun,  charged battery, charging unit, beautiful glider-hide shoulder holster with adjustable fitting and contrast  stitching, and a discount on your next  battery. Full instructions, of course,  and a voucher for free lessons at your  local gun club or range. Or there’s the  *special* presentation pack; it has all  the other one’s got but with *two*  charged batteries and a night-sight,  too. Here, feel that — don’t worry,  it’s a dummy battery — isn’t it neat?  Feel how light it is? Smooth, see? No  bits to stick out and catch on your  clothes, *and* beautifully balanced.  And of course the beauty of a laser is,  there’s no recoil. Because it’s  shooting light, you see? Beautiful gun,  beautiful gun; my wife has one. Really.  That’s not a line, she really has. Now,  I can do you that one — with a battery  and a free charge — for ninety-five;  or the presentation pack on a special  offer for one-nineteen; or this, the  special presentation pack, for  one-forty-nine.”
“I’ll take the special.”
“Sound choice, madam, *sound* choice. Now, do–?”
“And a HandCannon, with the eighty-mill silencer, five GP clips, three six-five AP/wire-flechettes clips, two bipropellant HE clips, and a Special Projectile Pack if you have one — the one with the embedding rounds, not the signalers. I assume the night-sight on this toy is compatible?”
“Aah… yes, And how does madam wish to pay?”
She slapped her credit card on the counter. “Eventually.”
– Iain M. Banks, “Against a Dark Background”

what apple stole – part 1

Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying “Good artists copy, Great artists steal” (though he was quoting someone else).
Heck, in the PBS show “Triumph Of The Nerds“, Jobs go so far as to say “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas”. And, looking at the history of Apple software… this is obviously the case.
Yet, somehow, many people now seem to consider Apple to be the source of the vast majority of software (Desktop and Mobile) innovation.
This is the first part in a series of articles that seeks to dispel that very notion.

Bryan Lunduke from the Linux Action Show breaks down the timeline of the theft of “THE DOCK ” over the years. You really should go and read the whole thing now and then stop saying Apple is the best thing to have happened to technology, because it really isn’t accurate or cool anymore.