Monthly Archives: December 2011

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CRAZY IDEA – 1 [Smart Traffic Signal]

Category : Crazy Idea

Traffic congestion, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Image via Wikipedia

Todays ‘CRAZY’ idea is for reducing the congestion in certain intersections.
If the traffic signals at intersection are not efficiently timed, it can lead to traffic congestion. Ideally the green signal duration should be proportional to the traffic load in the segment. Right now (where I live) the duration is static and preset based on available data. But the pattern of traffic may change depending on time of day and diversions leading to congestion in certain directions, during certain time of the day.
My idea is to have ‘smart signals’ which can adjust the duration of signal based on traffic load. This can be implemented by setting up radar at a certain distance from the signal that can calculate the average speed of the vehicles near the signal. The average speed of vehicles will drop if there is congestion. The duration of green signal should be inversely proportional to average vehicle speed.

Creative Commons Licence
Smart Traffic Signal by Bell Raj Eapen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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Totalitarian Agriculture

Category : Health

Diabetes Mellitus
Image by anaxolotl via Flickr

So continuing with the discussion on diabetes, my theory is that diabetes is a by-product of the totalitarian agriculture. We can see that the incidence of diabetes increased with our gradual (cultural) shift from a predominantly protein based diet of hunter-gatherers to a predominantly carbohydrate based diet of agriculturists. As Daniel Quinn‘s Ishmael ( a Gorilla) points out, human civilisation is unsustainable and our fall towards an apocalyptic destiny is accelerating. The combination of diabetes and obesity is the largest epidemic the world has faced and could well be the driving force behind this acceleration.

Well, as an afterthought. Did you turn vegan because you feel hunting/killing animals is against nature!? Think again!!

Related articles

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The Story of D

English: Cain and Abel
Image via Wikipedia

Sorry guys! I am bored of Dr Prasad and his laddoos. So let me put him on the back burner for now and continue my discussion on diabetes. But I may return to this topic later, especially if I receive any comments on my previous posts.

Let me start off today with a reference to a book and its sequel, both of which are popular. The book is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and the sequel is ‘The story of B‘.

If you have not read the book, see if you can find it in your library. Anyway the core messages are the following.

  • Takers as people often referred to as “civilized” represented by the agriculturists.
  • Eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree from the book of genesis would not actually give humans divine knowledge but would only make humans believe they had been given it, and that the Tree represents the choice to bear the responsibility of deciding which species live and which die.  
  • Abel’s extinction metaphorically represents the nomadic Semites’ losing in their conflict with agriculturalists. 
  • In the story of B he proposes that the people of our culture established a style of agriculture that B labels “totalitarian agriculture”. “Prehistoric” hunters and gatherers operated according to a worldview that promoted coexistence and limited competition between predator and prey. However, the totalitarian agriculturist operates with the worldview that the world is theirs to control and all the food in the world is theirs to produce and eat.

You may not see any immediate relation to diabetes, but that’s what I am coming to!

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Sweet SCAM – Part 2

Category : Uncategorized

English: This is an Indian sweet, which is giv...
Image via Wikipedia

So Dr Prasad has treated about 100,000 diabetic patients with the ‘unconventional treatment’, laddu! He claims that if sugar is included in the diet, it can rejuvenate the pancreas damaged by conventional treatments like insulin. So you just have to eat a laddu and go for jogging to cure diabetes. Our honourable MP Mr PT Thomas took no time to realise that diabetes being an incurable disease is a myth and started eating laddu. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation alone contributes $110 million for diabetes research every year. So if laddoo was missed by them, then it is a very costly mistake indeed!

So Is this an an all too familiar combination of a placebo effect and over emphasized anecdotal evidence?

I  will discuss my (philosophical) views on this (in short) but I don’t claim that I am right. It is a well known and accepted fact that mind has a profound effect on health and disease states. But unfortunately modern medicine is designed to ignore this effect. Our clinical research protocols are designed to ignore/nullify this effect by introducing the concept of ‘double blind placebo controlled trial’.

But we have successful systems of alternative medicine like homeopathy that depends entirely on placebo effect. Yoga, as per my knowledge is a very well designed system to augment this placebo effect. So it could have a beneficial effect on many (almost all) ailments. I think Indian Yogi’s were infact the first proponents of the philosophy of idealism that we now attribute to Kant. But if we try to test these systems of ‘medicine’ all trials will fail because of the intrinsic ‘weakness’ of clinical research.

To enhance the placebo effect these alternative systems adopt two strategies.
1. Give a very complicated and sometimes irrational explanation for the effect which nobody can understand and hence perceived as plausible.
2. Give a ridiculously simple explanation that everybody can identify with.

Homeopathy adopts the first strategy with the principle of ‘dilution augments potency’ while Yoga and Wayanad treatment adopts the second strategy of ‘massaging the pancreas’.  There is nothing wrong in this approach as long as it gives favourable results. But it may not work for me since I can think of more direct ways of pancreatic massage. Now will it work for you?

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Sweet Scam – Part 1

Category : Uncategorized

Hey.. This is not about the top 10 Indian scams this year! I have used SCAM here as an acronym for a Specialist in Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. And you must be wondering who is the SCAM I am referring to. He is none other than Dr M.V.Prasad, who proposed a revolutionary sweet treatment for diabetes.

Though I am an allopathic doctor, my intention here is not to set a partisan tone to a debate on its credibility. In this and subsequent posts, (probably it may take quite a few posts to complete this and I don’t blog frequently) I will blabber on the philosophy of such scams (believe me guys, no pun intended.) BTW Dr Prasad is not even a SCAM, He passed MBBS in 1995, from Calicut medical college, and is presently working as Asst.surgeon at PHC, Kenichira. Since laddoo is not the conventional treatment for diabetes, let us give him the title of SCAM and continue with the discussion of his revolutionary methodology in the next post.