Monday, April 30, 2007


Chandrashekhar thought it was because scientists develop an arrogance towards nature. These are often pioneers in their fields, they make far-reaching contributions. Their success makes them believe that they have a special view of science, a somehow right view of science.
A terrific post on the great physicist (also a great leg spinner and whose mother translated Ibsen's "A Doll House" into Tamil.)


Useful rule #1: Don't believe in authority (aka "watch your parking meters")

Useful rule #2: Don't believe everything you read.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday On My Mind

Two monks are sitting in a garden. Days go by but not a word is spoken. Then one day, one of the monks points to a tree and breaks down laughing.

"They call that a tree".

The other monk starts laughing too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tennessee Jed

"You say shy, I say chickenshit". I say "thanks, BM", for that memorable line.

Some things are best left to the young 'uns. This tag is one of them. But that doesn't mean I can't answer *some* of the questions.

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.

One dark and stormy night, the epithelial and adipose layers on the mandible experienced major asphalt-induced trauma. Long night at the ER ensued. Further details cannot and will not be provided. Scar tissue is a man's second-best friend.

2. What does your phone look like?

A Remington typewriter.

3. What music do you listen to?

Tonal and atonal.

4. What is your current desktop picture?

Generic tropical island shot. I *hate* it. But if I changed it, it would mean I actually cared about desktop pictures.

5. What do you want more than anything right now?

Answering this could get me into SO much trouble.

6. What are you listening to?

Grateful Dead's "Europe '72", Kishori Amonkar's "Malhar" and Gomez's "In our Guns". Everyone should own the first two albums. Some of you should own the last one. None of you should own anything by the Corrs.

7. Do you like pain killers?

Only when "Europe '72" is playing really softly.

8. Are you too shy to ask someone out?

Not really, but I make it a point to get my wife's permission first.

9. Do you get scared of the dark?

Only if the dork has fangs and casts no image in the mirror.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Finally, A Real Reason To Say "You Go, Girl"

"I did not have a pen or a note book, so I stole Rs 5 from my home and bought a pen for Rs 2 and copy for Rs 2."
Check out this slideshow on Rediff and if you have the time, please read each girl's story.

There's something so very rock 'n roll about these kids. Like the little girl who stole money to buy a pen. A PEN! What about the girl who learned to swim in the village pond, didn't give a fuck what the villagers thought of her swimsuit and now wins medals in swim meets?


(Thanks, Uma, for blogging this.)

Be The Change You Want To See

So I turned into seven dollars and seventeen cents and was carried away by a gruff waiter with spiky hair in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Thanks a lot, MKG.

Feisty Fawn

The new version of Ubuntu is out: "Feisty Fawn". I want to install it just for that gloriously silly name. Who wants to be stuck forever in "1.0/2.0/SP7" hell? Besides, Feisty Fawn's got excellent reviews. Here's one.

For those of you who have not heard of Ubuntu before, the word comes from a Bantu language and one of its translations over at Wikipedia is
"I am what I am because of what we all are"
That's a goddamn sweet philosophy and sweeter still is the fact that it costs several hundred dollars less than the operating system I am using currently.

(Link via Slashdot)

UPDATE: Leaping Lizards! Just how are Ubuntu releases named?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fifth Most Overcast Day Since April 2002

It's the worst storm since 1992.

It's the deadliest shooting rampage since 1966.

Do these rankings matter? And who asked these idiots to keep the score?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

There's Gold In Them Thar Classifieds

I'm always told "things are changing in India!" and then, as proof, I am driven over to some generic mall or a coffeeshop. My measurement of change comes from one question: "has the internet wreaked havoc here yet?" (It has. Teenagers no longer have to pay for music and porn.)

But what about people living in small towns and villages? What does the internet mean to them? Before I came across this classifieds site, I would have said "probably nothing". I would be so wrong.

Now, I am not a "ha ha, dehati bozos are funny" kinda guy. Maybe it's because I've lived in dehat for many, many years and still think of myself as a dehati. (Cue in Don McLean's "Castles in the air") But what can I say, there are some real howlers in those classified ads and I can use a howl right now. So let me point out some of the "24 carrot" posts.

1. But dude, how would you make out with her?

2. God may have given names to all the animals, but the punks in Sultanpur weren't paying attention. This section is JUST FREAKING AWESOME. I love it. There's a dude who wants a "dog bread" called "Dabarman". Then there's the man with "one ox, six teeth".

3. Also check out Sultanpur's budding pop lyricist, who starts his poetic "Requirement of Cow" with "I WANNA COW".

After you've done chuckling or even ROFLing, pay attention to what rocks the boat in Sultanpur. Inverters, cars, TVs, cellphones. Things are indeed changing.

So who wants to buy a "cement colour" ox?


If you were the English-to-Hindi translator working at a film studio, how would you translate the title "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"?

I don't think "terah-se-unnees saal ke kung-fu janane wale jadui kachue" would look very good on a poster.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Situation Normal All Not Fouled Up

What is the essence of business communication? Reporting exceptions. The fire-alarm goes off in case of a fire. The alarm does not ring when there is not a fire. Our systems - and I don't mean just software or hardware systems - are mostly designed for exceptions, not normalcy. Thank goodness, or we would be buried under the sheer volume of "normal" data and events.

The first time I ever saw weather forecast on TV (in India), it just seemed wrong. What really was the point of reporting (and hearing) "mausam khushkh rahega" every day for five months? Weather forecasting is a necessity in America, with its micro-climates, rapidly changing weather patterns and the sheer number of people on the road and in the skies. Should I pack a sweater or not is what I want to know.

The reason I am writing about this is because of an email I recently received from this guy working on my team. The subject line read "availability for next week" and email said something about "being onsite" and "week of April 23". So I interpreted it to mean he was out of office for that particular week, not paying any attention to the phrase "being onsite". But I also knew he had agreed to be in the office for the next couple of weeks, so I had to re-read a two-line email about four times to make sure I really understood it.

Not surprisingly, or surprisingly - I am not sure which - nearly everyone who received that email misread it. Circuits tripped. One of them even shot an email back - "I wasn't aware you were taking time off!".

So if there is an expectation - default state? Or exception state? - for all our conversations and interactions, are we just focused on this expectation and not to what is actually being said?

Let's take another example. What is the context of a couple's conversation? Are they expected to say "I feel immense love for you in this very moment and promise to never leave your side" and repeat it every time they talk (default) or say "I don't really feel any love for you right now at this moment" (exception)?

The default is sweet but lacks surprise. The words and the context are stripped of their power by repetition. It's the "have a nice day" syndrome. Why don't people say "please avoid having a terrible day"? It could be more effective, you know.

The exception report, in the couple's case, is nasty, though it could also keep the couple guessing - i.e., "how would he or she feel towards me in the next moment?"

I say let's trip everyone's circuits by flipping the context.

"Officer, I do not plead guilty to a crime I did not commit". "Dear boss, my distant cousin is not getting married so I am not going to miss work on the day of the World Cup Finals". "Dear boss, my grandmother is hale and hearty and because there is no funeral to attend, I will be at work everyday for the next 6 months".

And of course, "Honey, I got the milk".

Friday, April 13, 2007

You Didn't Tell Us! We Did Too!

I know this must have scared that little bag of pretzels out of the crew and passengers, and for someone who flies as much as I do, I shouldn’t be joking about these things, but this catastrophic “near-miss” is funny.

Reminds me of the time I “launched” a few rockets one Diwali night, directly into some very dry bushes and forgot to inform my neighbor about the “test”. (This was awfully funny considering that those dry bushes were on the neighbor’s property and one of them erupted into a blaze.)

So, yeah, India’s rocket scientists are all “It’s Diwali night, man!” and the Indonesian airline is all “behenchod, sara ghar jala dega”.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sex And Salvation

Drunken blogging. Pure genius. I remember saying the exact same thing about "stoned band practice".

So my boss tells me over a large Sapporo, "dude, you're all business all the time" and I feel insulted. How could I - *I* - be *all business* and this guy with a permanent bluetooth earpiece be not all business? Why is he calling me "dude"? And am I really all business all the time? And why is that bottle of Sapporo looking so big? And why am I all business all the time? And why is the Asian girl taking so long to get my next Sapporo? What if we could replace this slow human interface with a touch-screen interface with one large icon in the middle of the screen? A big, brown, happy bottle of Sapporo, naturally.

Compensation drives behavior. I vaguely remember someone telling me this several beers ago. I can't quite recall how or why we got to that topic.

Not only is CNN more moronic than we think, it is more moronic than we can think. JBS Haldane said that. The idiots are running a special feature called "What is a Christian" and for some reason, they are interviewing people attending a porn de-addiction camp run by a church. The documentary is subtitled "Sex and Salvation". A very large Sapporo, please.

To the Irish lady who asked me about India's caste system: There is no caste in India - I repeat, NO CASTE - with a Yellow Labrador as its mascot. I'm sorry but large Sapporo make Indian man shit bulls.

BTW, my buddy Scout has drafted me into her little army of drunks. (Regiment icon: a pickled liver) As cameos go, that's a pretty good cameo. The pay is terrible, but like any flasher will tell you, it's all about the exposure...

And finally, a beautiful quote:

" "

Tuesday, April 03, 2007