Shakuntala Devi, the Indian "human computer," passed away on Sunday. The NY Times first did a profile on her when she visited the US in 1976, during which she computed the cube root of a 9 digit integer in her head, but could not remember that she had been to the US once before -- over 20 years prior. Bob Bemer (inventor of the Escape key previously) remembers meeting her in 1953 on the TV show You Asked For It (which had previously featured a race between an abacus and a calculator). Psychologist Arthur Jensen (who did controversial research on race and IQ) wrote a paper on Shakuntala's exceptional ability in 1990. Shakuntala made her living as an astrologer and authored numerous books mostly on mathematical puzzles and tricks, but also The World of Homosexuals (1977), one of the earliest ethnographic studies of gay people in India. Specifically about gays in her hometown of Bangalore, Shakuntala called for "not only the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India, but also its 'full and complete acceptance' by the heterosexual population so that the Indian homosexual may lead a dignified and secure life."
Mapping Toilets in a Mumbai Slum. As part of an initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health, a team of students is researching life in the Mumbai slum, Cheeta Camp. They started by studying sanitation and water use. Their results? This map of toilets.
Once Upon a Time in Bombay "It is said that Bombay is the Alexandria of India. Its geographical position and commercial relations bear evidently some resemblance to the great eastern entrepot of the Mediterranean. As the swampy Rhakotis, a mere fishing village which Alexander the Great transformed into the splendid city of Alexandria, the desolate islet of the Bombay Koli fishermen was changed into the present capital of Western India." -- J. Gershon da Cunha in Origin of Bombay (google book) [more inside]