October 14, 2007

Mousetrap - 122

Peace be with you
Qibla Locator
The other day, a friend and I were wondering how Muslim astronauts in earth orbit would orient themselves to Mecca when they pray, seeing as their position relative to the holy city would change constantly; not to speak of having several sunrises and sunsets to factor in every “day.” A little research online and I found that theologians have been discussing this awhile, and have come up with several possible solutions. But while doing that searching, I came upon this mashup that uses Google Maps to help the faithful locate the correct direction to face, wherever on earth they are. You can zero down to street maps, even buildings, where the imagery is hi-res enough (or where detailed maps are available), and a bright line shows you the direction of Mecca. You do need to be able to find things on a map, of course, and have some basic sense of direction and geography, but play around a bit, and you’ll have it mastered in no time. Eid Mubarak.

There was a poet of old named Homer..
The Limerick Odyssey & The Limerick Illiad
In ancient Greece old Homer wrote
Epics that even today we quote:
About the travels of Odysseus;
And that heel of young Achilles.
Are they verse as limericks? You vote!

Bookmark
Phenomenal Women
This site was created to promote a book. Not your average potboiler. This one’s about a subject that, despite horrifying statistics, we tend to not speak about very much in this country: child sexual abuse. The book, put together by an NGO called RAHI (Recovering and Healing from Incest), is a set of personal testimonies from five middle-class English-speaking Indian women, their ages ranging from 19 to 67, who have been sexually abused as children by close family members. They write about their experiences and the impact on their lives, and about healing and hope. This site presents excerpts from those stories.

Chart-topper
Gapminder
I was pretty uninterested in Math in school, and Economics in college didn’t exactly ring my bells either. But, y’know, if tools like this were around when I was soaking up the knowledge, who knows, I might have been giving Manmohan Singh, Amartya Sen, or at least, some bloggers I know, a run for their money. Or at least got better grades. Thing is, the presentations and tools on this site make data and numbers wonderfully easy to understand, visualising publicly available data in ways that doofus types like me grok them well enough to make wild statements about their numeric abilities. There’s a must-see link on the home page, to Hans Rosling’s TED 2007 conference presentation. After you’re done, get in touch, and we’ll go talk to Mr Chidambaram about giving us jobs.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to http://o3.indiatimes.com/mousetrap for past columns, and to comment, or mail inthemousetrap@indiatimes.com. The writer blogs at http://zigzackly.blogspot.com.

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 14th October, 2007.

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