The champions of democracy..

I've paid my dues -
Time after time -
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime -
And bad mistakes
I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face -
But I've come through
I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls -
But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise -
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race -
And I ain't gonna lose -
We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -

- Queen, We are the champions, 1977

To all those who champion the cause of freedom and democracy, apt words indeed. This song was on right after I heard about Benazir Bhutto's assassination today afternoon. There's not much more I can add to that really, except to probably muse on the fact that whatever her failings, Bhutto was a beacon of moderateness in an Islamic society that is today in the eye of a fundamentalist maelstrom. And that is a stand not easily taken.

Of Monarchies, and Christmas in San Francisco

I totally faded there for almost a fortnight. Work, more work and other chores means that even if I'm glued to the computer half the day, I hardly have time to organize my thoughts into something which could be even remotely readable. Thankfully, the holidays are here and ought to put an end to that! Yayyyy. And I've been bursting at the seams to write *something* - do you know the feeling?!

On the political front, Nepal abolished its monarchy today - hot news as of a few hours ago. I for one welcome that change, given the bloodbaths that have been going on over the last 75 years, the most recent one being etched in all our memories. Hopefully, it leads to a lull in the maoist insurgencies too, if they have a half decent government that isn't hampered by centuries old tradition. That said, its also a sad day in some respects - I've always found monarchs rather romantic, and on every occasion, have read up all that I could find on the two most famous current ones - King Bhumibol of Thailand, and of course, Queen Elizabeth II. Its abolishment in Nepal just means another proud line will come to and end, and at best, be the gatekeepers of palaces and treasures that will revert to a government who may not know how best to care for it.

Which got me thinking about how many such governments are left today. Apart from the UK, its colonies (which don't really count) and Thaliand, the other remaining states are Japan, Cambodia, Jordan, Bahrain, UAE, Brunei, Bhutan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Malaysia in fact has an *elected* monarch, perhaps the only such system in the world today (or ever?)! The current Yang di-Pertuan Agong ("Supreme Ruler" or "Paramount Ruler") is styled His Majesty, and cuts a pretty impressive figure on his official portrait. Much more so than jowly King Gynaendra of Nepal anyway.

On another monarchial front, QE II recently endorsed YouTube, by launching the Royal Channel. Its got some pretty nifty videos on it, including her first televised Christmas address from 1957 and even the 1923 wedding of HER parents. It was fascinating watching them - televised impressions of London from the early 20th century, and an opportunity to look at people I've only ever seen in portraits as aged royals. Its funny how one never hears of the activities of monarchs from all but a couple of famous countries. The recent death of the Tongan prince and his wife on a Californian highway was heavily telecast in the US itself, but got practically no coverage on the international media. And would we even be able to point the Jordanian King or the Malysian one for that matter, on a photo gallery?

Oh and Merry Christmas to all of you! I’m not even sure how people spend their christmases if they’re not at home eating a family style dinner. Tired as I was of this question, I ended up in San Francisco with a friend for an awesome dinner (Wild Boar with truffle sauce, yummy), finally rode the famous SF cable cars (isn’t it interesting how people who live in a city never actually do all the touristy bits?), watched Beowulf in 3D (Angelina Jolie is hotter than ever), and ended up at a catholic church for a ten minute look at midnight mass.

Ironically, the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in San Francisco is located at “666 Filbert Street”. 666? Really? :) But the church itself is beautiful. Neo gothic (See pic below), and beautifully appointed with colorful frescos, it was very nice hearing a choir sing *live* after such a long time.

St. Peter and Paul's, San Francisco

From the inside

Union Square, San Francisco

Oh, and I finally baked a chocolate cake in honor of the holidays. Turned out prettty darned good too.. :D

Feminism - Part Un

The Punkster has recently finished the 49th carnival for feminists, where she invites a bunch of bloggers to submit entries focussed on (what I assume) were pre-determined categories. While I plan to read (and therefore comment) further on them, I obviously started with the women in tech and gaming sections, two areas I totally identify with :D.

NB: This was actually a comment on her blog, but I hate the concept of having what has become an entire blog entry in the comments section, so its been moved here.

For more information, see this; There’s an episode of a chemistry teacher and a student’s account of the Intel Science Talent Discovery Fair (something I participated and did rather well in *shrug*, a few years ago - so I know a bit of what happens behind the scenes).

".. but a rumor passing around the class that our chemistry teacher had asked two of her favorite students to prepare a project for entry in the fair. These students were, of course, boys.."

From what I can make out, instead of having the entire class involved in the usual exercise of coming up with project ideas, and perhaps selecting the best ones out of them, the two boys were selected in a unilateral decision. But, doesn’t that mean she must’ve left out almost all the other boys too?

So basically, a female teacher at some point in her life gets to the stage where she thinks that the boys are better than the girls. Hmm. Would this be influenced in any way, not by their performance, but solely their gender? The question I'm trying to ask here I guess, is why and how does she get to such a point?

And of course, while I'm at it, I'll touch off the extensive topic of infanticide and foeticide and whatever-icide that people go through to avoid having daughters. To people familiar with this sort of research - has anyone ever done work on why women would do that to their own daughters? Surely not everyone is forced or influenced by their in-laws or husbands?

Turkish serendipity - Movies, Books and Music

I’m in an excellent mood today - a good thing to carry over into a monday morning that begins in less than 7 hours - and brings with it an unending list of things to do. Sigh.

But I’m drawing solace from this weekend , which was undoubtedly *very* productive when it comes to music, film and books. I watched two excellent movies - Head On (Gegen Die Wand, 2005) and No Country for Old Men (2007); discovered the intricate music scene of one of the world’s greatest cities through another (Istanbul, Crossing the bridge), and as a result, have fallen in love with this band (Siya Siyabend); AND am finally half way through a book describing the same - Istanbul, by Orhan Pamuk. I must admit, these are things I’ve been meaning to do independently for quite a while now - but its interesting how the common thread that links them together surfaced serendipiteously!

Head On is a movie I highly recommend you watch. Apart from having the street creds of having being directed by Turkish born Fatih Akin, one of Germany’s star directors; a nomination at the oscars, and a cast which has performed exemplarily - it is an extraordinarily striking movie in the way it depicts the clash of two cultures, and describes the lives of immigrants in a form which hollywood, let alone bollywood can never hope to achieve. Szerelem talks about the story here; it is essentially a love-story between two turkish immigrants living in Germany who meet, at all odds, at a clinic after unsuccessful attempts at suicide - Cahit, who tries to ram his car into a wall, and Sibel, who doesn’t quite know how to optimally slit her wrists (!). The movie is neither overtly dramatic nor sentimental - the tone is just right, and the locales it was shot in (and the absolutely amazing soundtrack) go far in convincing you that such characters can actually exist, marginalised between two cultures. As the movie progresses, you can observe how circumstances visibly mature what were at the beginning of the movie two very flippant human beings. A reviewer online said it best when penning “Akin has crafted an unflinching film with the structure of a romantic comedy and the emotional kick of a nightmare”. Very true. You can totally gauge the tension which springs from the wish to have nothing to do with your own culture, yet have a longing that just won’t let go - beautifully illustrated when Cahit suddenly slips into English when talking to a turkish woman in Istanbul - his transformation from a hard-drinking, punk-rocker to one who is visibly caught between different worlds is complete.

What is even more interesting, however, is the uncanny likeness of the characters to their real life counterparts. At the very beginning when Cahit (Birol Ünel ) is completely drunk, he wasn’t acting. Ünel WAS in fact sloshed waiting for the shooting to start! And during the filming, he was even told by his doctor to give up alcohol, or risk death by liver failure. Scary. Sibel, the actress who also shares her first name with her on screen persona was recently outed by a german tabloid for having been a porn star a few years ago. This led to some tense moments, when she was all but publicly disowned by her family - an eerie reflection of what her character goes through in the movie. Before this turns into yet another movie review, I’ll just end by saying - go watch!

Which brings me to No Country - another excellently executed movie which in my opinion should win an Oscar whenever it gets nominated for one. Not if, but when. Theres’s the gratuitous violence (bone sticking out of an arm?), the nail-biting-edge-of-the-seat action, and very beautiful cinematography of the texan desert. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are awesome - but the real show stealer is Javier Bardem, who plays a psychopathic killer named Anton Chigurh, that makes Hannibal Lecter look like your favorite grandma on a sunny afternoon. Of course, being a Coen brothers movie, it has its own brand of an “OhMyGod” ending (the very words someone shouted in the theater as the movie ended) - and I most definitely agree.

Continuing on the Istanbul theme - “Crossing the bridge” is an excellent documentary on the music scene. It led me to discover Siya Siyabend, an unofficial band comprising of buskers off the streets of Istanbul. Named after a mesopotamian folk hero (Siyabend), the name of the band is actually that of its lead musician. Not only is he a fabulous guitarist and singer, his virtuosity with the toor (also known as the Santur in India and elsewhere) is phenomenal. Check out the clip below, where he’s collaborated with Alexander Hacke, a german bass guitarist. But more on their music in a later post!


In the throes of some extreme wanderlust at the moment. The entire day has been SO BLOODY unproductive, its not even funny. I recently moved into a new office, one which has a spectacular view (from the 9th floor of the building), and spent the entire day gazing out, reading poetry that had something to do with travel. That is, I spent hours scouring the web for travel poetry to read. Highly recommend this. Not to mention this lovely anthology of travel poetry here.

Blech. Of course, this means I have more time (rather, incentive) to blog. Once I get home, that is.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

- J. R. R. Tolkien

[Zion National Park, Utah]

[Yosemite national park, California]

[Seville Cathedral, Spain]

[Chinatown, Singapore]

[Fullerton hotel, Singapore]

[Random apartments, Singapore]

[Road trip, Santa Barbara]

[Ooh, guess where!]

[Chatfield Hollow, New England]

The world's shortest essay competition

From the "World's shortest essay" competition, the winner, when asked to compose an entry that would satisfy the following - Religion, Royalty, Mystery and Sex.

"My God", said the Queen, "I'm pregnant. I wonder who the father is.."

Now this may or may not be apocryphal - but it sure as hell is funny :)

On Computer Security and Sex


Computer Security is like sex.
Once you're penetrated you're fucked.
How true :))

The dangers of Journalism as a profession?

Szerelem pointed me to a link today, about the number of journalists in the Caucasus that have been killed for one reason or another - political rivalries, whistle blowing, or even just standing up for what should be a free press. A total of 31. Since 2000 - a mere 7 year span. An average of 4 people losing their lives due to the whims and fancies of others, in the pursuit of duty. Civilians, to boot. And this figure doesn't even include those who were roughed up, threatened, or just disappeared before publishing their exposés.

One of the things which struck me was how the author of the article above found it extremely tough to put a picture to each name (he couldn't manage it in two instances). And to be honest, apart from the infamous Politkovskaya murder which received wide press coverage due to her criticisms of the Putin's government, I haven't heard about any of the others in any mainstream media. Does that mean these lives were lost in vain?

I looked up some numbers, courtesy of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International News Safety Institute, and they're rather startling..

The Top 21 bloodiest countries over the past 10 years have been Iraq (138), Russia (88), Colombia (72), Philippines (55), Iran (54), India (45), Algeria (32), the former republic of Yugoslavia (32), Mexico (31), Pakistan (29), Brazil (27), USA (21), Bangladesh (19), Ukraine (17), Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone & Sri Lanka (16), Afghanistan, Indonesia & Thailand (13). Iran’s figures were swollen by one air accident in December 2005. A military aircraft carrying news teams to cover exercises in the Gulf crashed in Tehran, killing 48 journalists and media technicians aboard.
As an aside, this puts India at 6th place in being one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. An eye opener of a statistic if there ever was one for the world's largest, and fastest growing democracy. Which brings us to the question of why they were killed in the first place. According to the CPJ,

They either died in the line of duty or were deliberately targeted for assassination because of their reporting or their affiliation with a news organization.
Full coverage of the article is here. There's no one reason for all the senseless killings - and no pattern which can probably be detected without the help of machine learning mechanisms.

Will people one day aspire to thought processes which do NOT involve eliminating potential threats from the arena in order (mostly) to make more money? or is that being naively idealistic?

And now, sporting a brand new look!

As you can probably tell - the new look is meant to give the blog a breath of super fresh air!

(Thats a picture of the Hong Kong skyline, I fell in love with it during some 6 hours I spent there a few days ago :))

Word of the day - "Fobulous"

Fobulous. Like in FOB. Fresh off the Boat. And Fabulous - as in *awesome*.

Referring to someone fabulous who's just stepped into the United States from India. I quite liked it, from an article here

Delhi! Delhi!

Yes! I'm back in Delhi after such a long time that it hurts being here. What passed for normal in bygone eras isn't anymore! (right, I'm being slightly melodramatic here, bear with me okay?) Sure, things change and all that - but its so interesting to see how your perspective does too.

Three days into my stay, I think I'm settling in very well. I've bought myself Orhan Pamuk's "My name is Red" and so far, reading it has been a lovely experience. My favorite part of the day - to read or otherwise - has always been the late afternoon - a time when the Spanish take their siestas, and most people in India tend to nap as well. I could never stand sleeping though - the sun's rays are just perfect, not too bright, not too dull, and there's a certain something in the air which make me really relaxed. Soporific, even. And if you're sitting next to a garden or trees - chirping birds just add to the atmosphere.

(Hmm, I just thought I'd ask a friend about what she thinks is her favorite part of the day - and surprise surprise, she'd never even given it any thought before :))

Another stark difference I've felt here is the sounds and smells you encounter in India, something which the very spartan and organized west (ok, maybe just the US) doesn't have. As I type this, I can hear a host of sounds, all amalgamated into a low roar which just creeps subliminally into your consciousness. If I try and really listen to it, I can hear the distant sounds of traffic as they filter in through a group of trees outside; a rickshaw seller hawking his kulfi ice cream; heck, i can even hear a group of women singing wedding songs, complete with a Dhol; barking dogs, children playing cricket, someone talking on a mobile phone far away...

And then there are the very unique smells which I've really missed - gulmohar trees, eucalyptus, the slightly smoky smell of a dense fog which hovers over the treetops; open wood fires used by road construction workers to cook rustic food - the occasional pungence of frying garlic, or the earthy aromas of roasting rotis! there's also, atleast in parts of the city where I live, stacks of freshly cut grass from the various lawns and gardens in the vicinity - a slight breeze just wafts the smell from these into the already heady mix; and the occasional cigarette smoke, as someone near by steps out for a break before heading home, or back indoors to finish whatever it was they got tired of.


Of course, the traffic here's gone to the dogs. What was merely chaotic before is now a battle for life and limb - literally too, if you've been following the recent episodes of how blue line buses in Delhi have caused the deaths of almost a hundred people in the last few months. Road quality seems to have improved, as has the quality of air in the city. There are far more cars on the streets; shopping centers have been elevated from being mere grocery stores and odds-n-end shops, to high end luxury brands which cater to an exclusive set of the rich and famous. Heck, I've noticed that the price of goods is proportional to the part of the city you buy them from!

Guess capitalism has a new address. And its definitely the heart of New Delhi, for now.

Free speech and virginity

Quoting a friend when discussing the Ahmedinejad episode at Columbia -

"free speech is free speech. it's like virginity, you either have it or you don't."

How true - there's no way you can reasonably fake either.

Noam Chomsky, Democracy and invisible barriers to free speech

Came across a very interesting interview of Noam Chomsky, the celebrated linguist and extreme left wing political commentator at Le Monde Diplomatique today. Apart from talking about Democracy in the typical firebrand way he usually does, he mentions a very pertinent point on the topic of censorship of the free press in countries that are (or call themselves) liberal democracies, vis a vis totalitarian ones.

It is one of the big differences between the propaganda system of a totalitarian state and the way democratic societies go about things. Exaggerating slightly, in totalitarian countries the state decides the official line and everyone must then comply. Democratic societies operate differently. The line is never presented as such, merely implied. This involves brainwashing people who are still at liberty. Even the passionate debates in the main media stay within the bounds of commonly accepted, implicit rules, which sideline a large number of contrary views. The system of control in democratic societies is extremely effective. We do not notice the line any more than we notice the air we breathe. We sometimes even imagine we are seeing a lively debate. The system of control is much more powerful than in totalitarian systems.

This has never been more relevant than it is today - given the handful of countries in the world which can be termed actual democracies, how many of them can really count themselves as being part of a tiny faction that allows completely free speech?

Granted that the latter is a rather naive approach to real world issues, and any country which allowed the press full freedom in action would pay dearly for it. (This was rather interestingly illustrated by the media representation of the referendum of France a couple of years ago - in may 2005 referendum on the European constitution, most newspapers in France supported a yes vote, yet 55% of the electorate voted no). The same goes for the obvious anti war sentiment in the US, which is less than accurately reflected by the mainstream media.

But as Chomsky mentions elsewhere, do you really want to be in a country where you need to satisfy minimum constraints on your views, political affiliations and (even) sexual orientation in order to make yourself heard in the mainstream?

Back from a hiatus.. or, On the rise of India as a global power

The last 2 months have been filled with doing much more than I could even begin to start writing about. Or had the time to anyway. Or maybe I was just being lazy! Oh well.

Time magazine has an excellent series of articles on the rising star that is the Indian economy and state. What struck me specifically were the articles on KP Singh, the founder of DLF Real Estate which today has a market capitalization 3 BILLION USD *greater* than General Motors. At $24 billion, they're one of the biggest in the world. And of course, there were the occasional numbers on the growth of the economy to a trillion dollars (this April) et al. But the author summed it up (brilliantly, I thought) as

"Extraordinary as it is, the rise of India and China is nothing more than a return to the ancient equilibrium of world trade, with Europeans no longer appearing as gun-toting, gunboat-riding colonial masters but instead reverting to their traditional role: that of eager consumers of the much celebrated manufactures, luxuries and services of the East."


Its stories like this that make getting up in the morning..

.. a treat.

of Bill Gates and Bates Gill?

Bates Gill holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is the author of Rising Star: China's New Security Diplomacy

*cracks up*

Really, I've made so many of those Gill Bates jokes, but to encounter someone actually named thus was priceless! :)

Reflections on Spiderman and his webs

Well. We all know how good (or bad, depending on perspectives) Spiderman 3 was. Don't worry, no spoilers here. This is just a question I need to ask the world at large.

Spidey looks cool doesn't he, when he swings about on his webs, to and fro all of New York Ci.. er, I mean, whatever fictional city he lives in. But.

*WHAT in HELL* does he do with those pieces of webbing stuck all over the city?!!!!

I'm flummoxed.

Don't move or you're geography.

Human: Er, don't you mean history?

Dragon: No.

Human: No?

Dragon: No.

Human: Why not?

Dragon: Because once I'm done, they'll be scraping you off the ground.

Human: Ah.

You know the US is losing it..

.. when

On his News and Comment radio show this morning, ABC Radio Networks host Paul Harvey said “the media should put a stop” to labeling “women and children” killed in war as “civilians.” He said, “It was civilians, for goodness sake, who decapitated New York City.”

Dictionaries define a civilian as “one not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force.” Harvey disagrees. According to him, “Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no civilians.” In other words, innocent people who are killed in war are military combatants because they are victims of a military attack.

Paul Harvey News describes itself as “the largest one-man network in the world, consisting of over 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations that broadcast around the world, and 300 newspapers.” President Bush gave Harvey the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

This isn’t the first time Harvey has callously wished for more viciousness in American war fighting. In 2005, he said the United States should use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq. After recalling the use of atomic bombs during World War II, Harvey lamented that “we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and kept our best weapons in their silos.”

Of course, things might improve when,

“Two years after writing a law requiring highway ‘Welcome to Texas’ signs to tout the state as the home of President Bush, state Rep. Ken Paxton [yesterday] passed a bill that will remove the designation once the 43rd president leaves office.”

Not to get too political, but I just couldn't resist. OTOH, I was going to do a big post on the rising ludicrousnesses of modern Indian morality and culture. Should I?


George Orwell's 1984 was a watershed in how humanity in general thought about the future. If you haven't read it, I really, REALLY recommend you do. It (along with Animal Farm) gave us chilling insights into a society which could, if left unchecked, become dystopian in the very near future. But over the decades since its release, people have always taken it for granted that this was but the fancies of one man, and mankind was savvy enough to protect itself from the beginnings of its own demise.

Up until now.

"Big brother is watching you", the refrain of many a snide comment about totalitarian governments has never been so chilling in its applicability to the modern democratic state. And no, I'm not getting unnecessarily melodramatic or anything - a series of events which have happened in the past week have made me question a lot of things I'd taken for granted before. Not in the least, the concepts of privacy and freedom.

The slow erosion of the founding principles of the United States has been evident for a while now - certain quarters have taken decisions to curtail basic human rights in the name of eradicating terrorism. Others have launched campaigns about Intellectual Property, in the name of which thousands of innocents have been legally targetted - I refer to the RIAA's attack on individuals over the past year or so. And then of course, there's the Indian context of banning blogs which condone terrorism, or are against the sentiments of a particular religious or ethnic group. Censorship for a cause, but still censorship.

All aspects of our social life are on the internet - our email, our invitations, photos, contacts, files, credit card databases and bank accounts. Drivers licenses when swiped in a card reader let the government know where you are. Combine all this information, and you can find out where I shopped, what I bought, when I did so. Google earth allows you to look at my backyard. You now know where I live. You have me on surveillance cameras. Practically every aspect of my life is available to those who want it - legally or otherwise.

The first inkling of the approaching storms was the recent tie up of Orkut, the social networking site, with Indian law enforcement agencies in order to help nab people making a nuisance of themselves online. Not only can you now be censured, you can be thrown in jail! As if that wasn't bad enough, surveillance cameras have now been put in force around Britain which can, hold your breath, READ YOUR LIPS! Thats right! Now, not only can they use facial recognition to find out who you are, they know what you're saying. Perhaps the shouting cameras they installed a while ago will find something to talk about with these.

So you thought that only people who pirate DVDs and music are in trouble? Sure they are - as the recent *dictat* by the US shows. They have recently targeted 12 countries which apparently have bad track records when it comes to containing piracy. India and China included of course. But here's the funny part - they mention Thailand too, because of that government's efforts to subsidize patented drugs from the US for their own use, to make them available cheaply to people who have AIDS.

Whats that? Make their own drugs so that they can save people dying of AIDS? Those *bastards*.

(end sarcasm)

'Sure, the U.S. government can impose economic sanctions on non-compliant countries, but that only takes you so far. The U.S. Constitution requires that the federal government respect the sovereignty of foreign nations. U.S. courts won't typically touch a copyright infringement case if the infringement occurs overseas.'
Oh wait a minute. respect the what? Last I saw, Iraq was a sovereign country with its own government. Bleh.

But the icing on the cake is yet to come - and explain the title of this post too. Everyone who watches DVD movies knows that DVDs are hard to copy like VCDs used to be - thats because of the built in encryption, and Digital Rights Management (DRM). Well, the flip side of this is that even if you own the DVD and say, break it - there's no way you can get a replacement without paying for it all over again. Which is basically an extra few bucks for the big record companies. Of course, what one man can build, another can break. An enterprising hacker here
recently cracked this system, and put it up on the web for all to see. To summarize this hack, all you need is the code 09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0 to break this encryption. And of course, some more technical knowhow. But you see my point. The fact that this number was published was going to make the AACS (the people who collect royalties on movies) pretty bad. So they issued a cease and desist order against.. hold your breath.. GOOGLE! and Yahoo. and others. And thats what broke the camel's back.

The internet as we know it was built to enhance communications amongst groups of people around the world - and the advent of modern communication technology like faxes and teleprinters was in no small way responsible for the demise of the USSR. When the masses have a collective decision and a medium to act upon, there's not much that can be done to stop them. And this is what is happening. The entire web is up in arms against the AACS. Instead of being able to clamp down on this number, everyone is making new web pages with this number to spread it even further. In my opinion, this is a watershed in the history of the internet because for the first time, people across boundaries have as a group targeted one specific entity. Even as I type, people are printing out coffee mugs, t-shirts, banners, stickers and all sorts of other merchandise to showcase this number. At this point, it has ceased to be just a number - it now stands as a symbol of 'sticking it to the man' - as poignant as the photo of that lone chinese man at Tienanmen square, stopping the approach of an entire column of tanks, and as the world collectively watched, the rising storm of communism.

Except that this time, its not one man. There's a few million of them. And they rise not against communism, but the capitalistic hegemony of corporations. Ironic ain't it?

Of big fat Indian weddings, Rock, paper, scissors and other generalities

A lot seems to be happening around the world today. Really, the people who must write sections for "Oddly enough" at Reuters must be celebrating with joy at the sheer number of events that far transcend "incredulously amazing".

Lets start with Liz Hurley's big fat Indian wedding, arguable the "wedding of the year", which couldn't get any more famous with big elephants, lots of trumpets, and other exotica like ice sculptures in the middle of (the desert Indian state) Rajasthan. No, that was a mistake. It DOES get better. Apparently, they have been sued by a group of responsible Hindu citizens who feel that the marriage rites were but a travesty to the pure and scared event that a hindu wedding ceremony is. Because? No reasons given. Oh well. Next, it turns out that the father-in-law himself disowned his son because the latter - under the auspices of his new wife of course - snubbed him at a [sic] 30,000 pound dinner organized in his honour. Duh. If someone organized a 30,000 pound dinner for me... But then, if I were getting married to someone as supremely hot as Liz Hurley - nah, I'd still go for it.. But come on people. So they didn't precisely follow hindu rituals - perhaps, there were tulips rather than marigolds. Isnt the fact that 2 people who (presumably) love each other got married count for anything? And seriously, don't you have anything better to do than waste money on frivolous lawsuits against people you are likely to have o direct connection to?

Anyway. Topping this was my serendipitous discovery of the .. World Rock, Paper, Scissors Society! Yes, that such a thing exists is a marvellous reaffirmation of the obscenely huge amounts of time some people have in order to devote it to such (trivial?) pursuits. Did you know that there are official strategies to play this game? And that the math involved in calculating probabilities of what the other persons are going to put forth based on a history of what you've put forth is rather advanced? That people who play this routinely do these calculations in their heads in a matter of seconds, before they decide what to play with?

I didn't either.

And since this post started with the easily hurt sensibilities of the hindu populace of the world, lets end it with a particularly interesting piece of news which I chanced across - that really showcases just how many good-for-nothing-too-rich-to-care people are out there. Apparently, the California school curriculum system was sued by .. yes, another hindu watchdog group in California which argues that the textbook syllabus in American schools portrays the religion in a bad light. Go figure. I'm too lazy to recount the entire scenario here.. but the links before should give you some idea of whats happening.

Yawn. more later.

Five Unknown things about me

Tagged by Something to say

Five unknown things about me? Thats a toughie - never imagine it would be this hard to look at myself from the perspective of someone else. Lets see now,

- I love the smell of petrol/gasoline. I just do. Some people have told me its weird, and I shouldn't - but hey, thats your problem not mine. And when I say this, it doesn't mean I go around sniffing fuel tanks, but I do take a deep whiff whenever I'm fueling my car or I'm passing by a filling station. Although, I *hate* burnt fuel smells.

- I used to love eating bits and pieces of a particular wall when I was a kid (Yeah, I *know*). Perhaps 3 or 4 years old. I have vivid memories of taking small chunks off this small hole in the wall (I think it might've been where a small bit was shorn off when hammering a nail in - and this was in the lobby of an apartment complex, overlooking the balcony.) I think I stood there (on the 7th floor) munching bits of grit and staring at the world go past. Good times.

- This is getting easier by the minute. Hrmmph. My music tastes are pretty eclectic, but sometimes, I will listen to one song that I end up liking SO MUCH that I play it on constant repeat about a zillion times, interspersed with very few other songs. I think it helps me appreciate the beauty of the melody or lyrics, or whatever it is that I really admire. Most recent such song was "Echoes", by Pink Floyd. Music also plays a really important role in how I'm feeling at that point in the day. Something nice and beaty, will cheer me up to no end - and sometimes, Enya-esque songs will relax me. And some really special songs bring about a flood of memories, smells, and images from long times past! Weird eh?

- I'm a technology person. I would feel lost without a computer - something I've been using ever since I was 4, my PDA, a phone, et al. Okay, its not as bad as I make it out to be :) But, I've realized that there's a gap in my life, especially when I've been on multiple day hikes to remote locations where there's no cell phone coverage, let alone internet access. I do a lot of stuff using the computer, and its like an extension of myself.

- I've got heightened senses. Smells and taste - I can normally figure out all the ingredients in a dish, and identify people or certain objects by passing smells. Wery Vierd? Perhaps :) As for hearing, I can figure out exactly what my housemates are doing, where they are, and even predict what they will do next based on sounds they're making. Like, I'll know when someone in the room I can't see is say, lifting a pen, writing on paper, and then pausing to think. Sometimes, its VERY irritating though. Imagine the above situation sitting in a classroom hehe.

Ok, I think I've waxed eloquently about myself! Now, to tag some more people. I choose: hobo, punkster, snake anthony, szelerem and whitelight. Not to mention iz and surly girl. Hehe, who says you only have to tag FIVE more people? :)

How do you make a dog chase its tail around?

I saw an ad on TV today. It showed a dog chasing its tail over and over again, as dogs are wont to do, for about 45 seconds. It must've done so *atleast* 30 times in that time span.

And once it finished, the caption at the bottom was - "Comcast. Non Stop. 24/7/365". Not too bad you say? Perhaps, but commenting on the sad state of affairs that is the America Television Industry is not the topic for a short post.

Instead, it got me thinking about how such an ad would be implemented. Consider - you would need to find a dog which is known to chase its tail around. As an ad person, how would you approach this?

First thoughts include trying to find people who have talked about or perhaps written about their dogs' eccentricities. Hmm, but how often do you find people like that who live near you? Just finding a dog which doesn't look ugly as hell and is known to chase his tail for eons isn't enough. Although this by itself is a tough problem, once you DO find him - how do you make him do his thing? surely, you wouldn't be cruel enough to attach salami juice onto his tail and make him sniff it. and in case of a particularly stupid dog, even have him bite it. Its not unknown, after all.

I'm still trying to work this out. Next post is going to be a tag which STS gave me a couple of weeks ago!


Holy Crap. A MONTH without a post. Sigh, this is what happens when you get to a point where real life gets to you more than compulsions towards online avatars. Hehe, which might actually be a good thing.

But so much has happened. And thats best illustrated by the fact that in 5 days, I've travelled abouit 6000 miles, across 4 time zones, with about 8 hours of sleep, partied till 2am, chicken wings at 3, and then early morning conversations till 6. Repeat. Fun times, I have to admit.

Now couple this with some interesting tours I had to conduct, discuss possibly life changing business ideas, and a couple of other things which I can't really talk about.. I think its safe to say that the lack of updates has been *because* i've had too many :)

But more stuff coming up. For instance, the tag which "Something to Say" left me. soon, very soon.

Of Generals and Hackers, Gates and Oracles and an Apple too!

My last post apart from being a while ago, was none too cheery. Now, I like to think nothing can really get my spirits down, so I'm not going to continue on that vein. For a while anyway. Instead, let me take you through some interesting events which over the last fifteen days have resulted in some rather cheerful and happy moments!

The RSA conference mentioned below is the world's largest computer security conference. RSA actually represents the first letters of the last names of 3 scientists - Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len Adleman, who invented a computer algorithm which revolutionized every bit of computer security. No pun intended :). The algorithm itself, and now the company which licenses it is called RSA. It is the largest gathering of hackers in the world, with over 15000 attendees from around the world. Hackers as in the good guys who make sure no one filches money from your bank account, and not the malicious types as shown in movies.

(Above) Matrix style - live break-in into a computer network
(Below) RSA 07 graffiti board

(The malicious types attend Defcon in case you were wondering ;) Annyywaaayyy. Moving on.

Some good, others bad and a few definitely ugly

San Francisco, sometime in mid February. Right about my birthday actually. I had the opportunity to interact with Bill Gates, as part of his keynote activities at the RSA conference. Listening to a visionary, no matter how beloved (or infamous) in the media, is always an enlightening experience. Except that my own didn't stop with him. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle corporation was next. Now there couldn't be a more marked difference between the two. Arguably the 2 most famous billionaire programmers out there, they are unlike each other in their personal mannerisms, even though their professional course has taken them neck to neck, with each owning the first and second largest software companies in the world. Respectively. Bill for instance is the quintessential geek, tousled hair, owly-eyes and all that. Has a penchant for wearing what look like crumpled sweaters and shirts, with normal slacks and shoes. In his spare time, he plays bridge and likes to eat 'mutter-paneer'. Seriously. Ellison on the other hand was on the 'Sexiest man alive' list, with a penchant for flying MiG29 fighter jets, owning a baseball team, captaining (and almost losing his life on) his own yacht in the America cup, the most gruelling sea race in the world. And he prefers the Armani suits, the bentleys and all the rest which go with being the 7th or 8th richest in the world.

(Who needs gates anyway?)

But what is most fascinating about both is the vision and power which they radiate. In a meeting with about 70 people in a small conference room, the aura of control, and power was self evident. Articulately spewing well reasoned arguments for or against questions directed at them, it was easy to see how they created their own 'Reality Distortion Field' around themselves. I quite like this term which was coined by a journalist in the 80s about the big 3 of tech - Bill, Larry and Steve (Jobs of Apple). Being in the same room with them hearing them speak at such close quarters is .. interesting, to say the least.

Of course, there were a bunch of other famous people out there, most of whom would only be appreciated by people familiar with the technology industry - the R and S from RSA, Diffie and Hellman, and others formed the galaxy of panelists and speakers who descended into SF that week. Needless to say, I was charmed enough to land up at the conference venue at 8am and leave after each day of sessions et al around 11PM. Whew. Glad thats over. If you've ever been to SF on a weekday during peak traffic, you know what I mean. Of course, its nothing compared to the stories I've heard from Bombay :) The horrors of finding a place to park are bad enough without throwing traffic into the equation.

(A few of the greatest computer hackers in the world today. The one with white hippie hair is Whitfield Diffie, the Porsche driving Chief Security Officer at Sun inc. Next to him is Ron Rivest, professor emeritus of CS at MIT, Adi Shamir of Princeton/Technion Israel), and Martin Hellman, Professor Emeritus at Stanford)

Uhm, as to how I know he drives a porsche? Driving down Palo Alto one day, I stopped at a traffic light with Diffie in his black 911 right next to me. That white hair/beard and the fact that we were meters from Sun's HQ were enough :)

Enough of the techies already. Yes, I echoed that on the 5th day of the conference, exhausted and bleary. But the icing on the metaphorical cake was getting to hear General Colin Powell, formerly the most powerful democrat in the western world, and before that chief of the US Army. The introduction was just to keep things in sync. I know you know who he is :) Anyway. I was expecting a rather staid general, or diplomat who would be full of himself and would in some way try to use 9/11 in his talk. Well, I was right about the latter. But Gen. Powell is someone I now respect significantly more - the least of those reasons being his ability to extemporize a 45 minute speech flitted with just the right amount of humor, motivation, and a cold hard look at security and privacy in the modern age. One of the most articulate speakers I've EVER heard, he encompassed everything from his meanderings in Germany when he served with Elvis Presley, to anecdotes about how he resolved an island-takeover between Morocco and Spain in between playing with his grandchildren.

Well, just when the next work week was beginning, I stumbled across more famous people at various locations. The presidents of Stanford - both past and present, the second in command at Yale, the founder of Electronic Arts - of Need for Speed and Cricket fame, the woman who invented the Palmtop, a couple of lawyers who represented the bloggers against Apple inc's lawsuits - and won!, not to mention a couple of other luminaries who I'm too lazy to mention yet. Listening to a lot of these people, and interacting with them has been an experience I can only liken to drinking from a fire hose - a sensory information overload! There are some very interesting things happening in the SF bay area, and its been quite instructive to have been at the thick of them! As you can probably tell, I've been a technology buff ever since I was a 4 year old playing games on an old Commodore 64. The opportunity to have met people who I've read about all this time has been truly spectacular. Yes, I know, I'm getting emotional. No? :P

The New

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting for your viewing pleasure, my new Macbook Pro!

And the keyboard lights up at night.
(This photo is off a public site since my photography skills aren't that great!)

After much debate and research in getting myself a new computer, I finally settled on a Macbook Pro. It had been a while since I upgraded, what with school, work and everything else demanding my old laptop's full use. After spending an intense 7 days after placing an order, I finally received the 'book and I've now been using it for almost 2 weeks. Two Weeks! This is actually my first post with the new machine. Yayy.

And today's Holi too - the Indian festival of colors - although all I'm doing this year is munching home made goodies a friend brought from India yesterday. Perfect timing :)

Couple that with a bright and sunny day here in California, and you'd think life isn't all that bad at all!

All that I wanted to write about..

.. about Valentine's day, about having met people as famous as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, presidents of Stanford, Venture capitalists, inventors and CEOs suddenly didn't count. After I saw this.

A missionary holding the hands of an undernourished child in Somalia who died shortly after.

It makes you think about all the things that are not happening to uplift what is arguably the most beautiful continent in the world. What a pity.

I'll probably post about the other stuff later.

Birthday blues

.. And so I turn 23.

Oh. What. Joy.

*end sarcasm*

On Indian values, sundry world affairs, the end of humanity, and then some..

Great. Firefox just crashed and I lost a bunch of stuff. Don't you hate it when these things happen? Perhaps I should write my post in another program and then just paste it into bloody blogger. Anyway. As I was saying, Wow, its been a long time since my last post - and its unbelievable how much work I've had to finish off last week. But its been an eventful week, and so much has happened around the world - how could I not put down my spectacularly cynical yet positive views on the world at large anyway?

I saw Pan's Labyrinth last week - and it turned out to be a visual treat, very different from what I'd initially imagined it to be - though I must admit it was pretty graphic. Like when the super sized frog spilled its guts inside out and that magic ... oh, but you should go watch the movie if you haven't already - wouldn't want to spoil it for you would I now? :) Kudos to the cast for a tremendous performance - I specially liked the color tones of the movie, which are on the darker side but not quite horror-esque. I'm not sure how its going to fare at the Oscars, but its going to do a sight lot better than anything else which is pitched against it, I can tell you that. Which is more than I can say for any Indian entry for the foreign films categories this year.

Speaking of India, BBC recently had an interesting article which talked about whether India will actually live up to its expectations, as seen by the world today. In fact, they're even devoting an entire section of coverage on TV on Indian affairs - very peachy. Written by someone who's been visiting the country since the early 1970s, the piece goes on to talk about the rampant consumerism which has overtaken a large part of the country. Very true. But is this a good thing or a bad thing? My view would be equating this with a double edged sword - as people become more profit oriented, the traditional ways of Indian culture - that of a welcoming, peace loving people is sure to dilute. For a country that hasn't invaded another in the past few thousand years, perhaps this is a wakeup call to arms? Ingrained culture is hard to wipe out completely, so rest assured, the populace isn't going to become blood thirsty capitalist barbarians anytime soon - but this might give them an edge if they're to compete in a society increasingly being characterized by dog-eat-dog globalization.

But are all of India's traditional values breaking down under the onslaught of consumerism and individualism? Now thats a *toughie*. The foremost question here is - what ARE these traditional values anyway? Respecting people older to you, or merely obeying their every whim and fancy without a word in sideways? Reserving sex as something you do only after marriage, or promiscuously going around town with anyone you can find? Some people come up with things like "touching feet as a mark of respect", skipping which almost condemns you to hell. Meh. Is that the only way you show respect to people? As far as I'm concerned, doing so just to keep up appearances is worse than not doing it at all. So, to see what people on the web think about it, I just googled the term. Go on, go ahead and do it. It sucks ass. No one, I repeat, NO ONE has written one clear word about what "traditional indian values" are.. oh wait.

Boy o boy. Bwahahahahaha. Ladies and gentlemen, may I please present to you this fantastic piece of scholarship. Go ahead, its a one page PDF which lists out Indian values vs non Indian ones. What a load of absolute, first rate CRAP. I can't believe there are people who are not only dumb enough to believe it, they deem it necessary to put this stuff up *online* so that others can "learn" from it. Hehehe, if those really ARE traditional Indian values, I for one am glad that the capitalistic hegemony is going to force us out of them soon enough. *shudder*

My generation - that of twenty somethings, has been one of the most liberal and self sufficient ones in modern times. With the right mix of liberal values, easily accessible education, jobs and expendable incomes, most are doing pretty well for themselves. If that means going out to drink and dance the night away at certain times of the week, fine. Does this really mean that we would in effect, forget about our own culture and get swayed by the big bad capitalist world? Lost our moral ethic? Of course not! Would we rather be in saffron robes sitting around a sage, learning the intricacies of life, the universe and everything, oblivious to anything happening around us? Gimme a break people. The last word in all this is - people aren't stupid enough to "lose" their 'values'. Really. Give them credit - most parents do a fine job tutoring their kids in the values they should adopt. There is a definite need to adapt, but I don't see it happening in conjunction with the said degradation of our cultural mores.

Which brings us to the next question - Are caste and hierarchy being eroded - and if so, are the downtrodden benefiting? Hah. I'm sure they are. Well, I'm not being entirely sarcastic here - you've got to admit, atleast in some sections of society, these things are losing the momentum they had, oh half a century ago. Sure its not all going to vanish in the next year, decade or even 20 years, but its getting there. The tougher question is - are the downtrodden benefitting? The answer to that one, sadly, will occupy a full blown post which would have to talk about politics and all the intricacies therein. Something I'm not quite happy doing. Yet.

Is the explosion of television creating a new, more homogenised Indian culture? Of course it is. Is that even a question? Thankfully the detractors and moral policing of TV has gone down significantly, although I have grouses against people who run the censor board and decide what the masses should see. Really - who gives the government the authority to decide that anyway?

Man, this post got out of hand. I haven't even begun to talk about the entire global warming issue. Its hilarious, how suddenly, the two words have become dirty enough to be avoided by most people in a jiffy. Whats more interesting is that for the first time, the report has had the effect it should have earlier - in a large part because of the openness of the internet. But thats for another post. Which I hope to do soon!

Religious intolerance in Britain reversed

Scotland Yard said yesterday that a Muslim woman police who refused to shake hands with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at her passing-out ceremony would be dismissed if she did not "engage" with people as other officers do. Sir Ian Blair personally congratulated all 200 recruits at a ceremony in London last month, but shook hands with only 199 after the woman specifically requested that she should not be required to do so, apparently for religious reasons.

Now this is the kind of headline you read, and think about how society is becoming more dysfunctional every passing day. But nope. Then you read something of this sort,

Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said the "overwhelming majority" of practising Muslims would avoid physical contact with a member of the opposite sex unless they were closely related.

What? What kind of B.S is that? I have tons of friends who are practicing Muslims, and not one has issues. Fine, so I'm talking about people who are of Indian origin and live there too. But isn't it a bit ridiculous to accept that once you start living in the west, you become more apprehensive, and perhaps orthodox in your religious views?

An era ends. Maybe?

It is often said that before you die, your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living.

Brilliantly put.

Lets talk about a particular individual, who for brevity's sake (and for the added suspense it gives this story), we will name X. Good choice for a mystery name, if I do say so myself.. Best heard to the strains of Supertramp's Long Way Home or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Okay, enough of the atmospheric qualities. :)

A boy, born out of wedlock on what we assume was a balmy day, some 80 years ago to a servant working for a rich man - who as it will turn out, was the father. He wasn't baptized till the age of 8, enduring the ridicule of his peers - and had to wait till the age of 17 to be formally recognized by being given his father's last name, which would shape his identity a few decades down the line.

At the age of 12, he wrote a letter to the Roosevelt, the US President, expressing his will to be a friend and in return, asking for a 10$ bill because he had never seen one before. History doesn't record whether an answer was sent back, or not. Growing up, he attended a gaggle of schools, finally entering a local university to study law. Embroiled in university politics, he began to head major factions and eventually traveled to another country to protest against US policies at a local convention. As fate would've had it, the country underwent a bloody coup and the streets erupted in heavy violence leading X to seek refuge at his embassy, and be shipped back - safe, but seared with a thousand impressions which would change his life.

Finally graduating with that law degree, he used his skills to develop a constitutionally legal framework of appeals to challenge his country's ruling government (a dictatorship, rather) on charges of corruption - which, surprise surprise, were refuted immediately. He was of course, put into prison, but not before he delivered a defence speech short of nothing but a masterpiece.

I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in your hearts a vestige of love for your country, love for humanity, love for justice, listen carefully... I know that the regime will try to suppress the truth by all possible means; I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled – it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it... Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.

Granted an amnesty, and failing to see his efforts gain fruition, he traveled to the United States and with help from other exiles in residence there, trained in guerrilla warfare. Engaged in negotiations with the USSR for weapons, and collaborated with South American revolutionaries to form a task force to topple the aforementioned dictator. And was successful.

Born a catholic, although he never practiced it, X was then summarily excommunicated by the Vatican for his role in the uprising. (Yes, the Pope actually upheld the excommunication of any catholic supporting revolutions). Miffed, to put none too fine a point on it, he banned Christmas as a State Holiday for almost 30 years - It was in fact reinstated as a state holiday in 1999, when he finally went back to a cathedral - a place he'd last visited in 1946, half a century ago.

But his story is far from over. His astounding resoluteness shown by successive comebacks in the light of radically challenging difficulties is the stuff legends are made of. In his own words,

If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.

Conservative estimates at the number of attempts made at assassinating him hover at around 683. Yes. Six Hundred and Eighty Three. Some of them are staid and boring, such as the sniper rifles, and bombs. Others are more intriguing, ranging from exploding cigars, poisoned diving suits, cold cream jars with poison, and in an incident reminiscent of James Bond, hiring an ex lover to kill him. Rumor has it that the US President even *consulted* Ian Fleming on his thoughts on getting rid of X. Want a piece of irony? His wife's nephews today are leading congressmen in the US and actively speak out against his policies. So does his daughter.

But personal threats were of definitely little consequence to one who was solely responsible for the closest the world ever came to exchanging nuclear missiles after WWII - what the incident was, of course, will become obvious once you get to the end of the post, so patience! Thats a good reader. Where am I going with this? The fact that this ostensibly indomitable person has been languishing in a hospice somewhere, undergoing operation over operation to save him from cancer. Which, if news reports are to be trusted, aren't going well at all. The predictions are already being made on possible death announcements, and a collective sigh of relief from the world's governments as the bane of (many of) their existence finally fades into the pages of history, albeit with 21 gun salutes rather than with the swish of a few pages shutting the last chapter of his life which they would've preferred.

I feel strangely attracted to X - his ability to resolutely stand for what he believes is right, amongst other things. To face off the biggest bullies on the block (figuratively and otherwise), and come up trumps requires guts and a razor sharp brain. Sure, there are detractors who label him a dictator, and I do agree that he's no saint - but then, how many people today can be given that honor anyway?

The capitalistic hegemony which has in recent past gotten away with the grotesque hangings of people in Iraq will be denied _this_ particular victory anyway - summary executions which are leaked to the public are bad enough, but incompetent leadership, a doting vote-base with (mostly) no inkling of anything beyond their own noses and to make matters worse, absolute belief in their leader have made the US nothing more than a bully on the world stage. But coming to the point - a gentle introduction to X.

Standing on the world stage as the longest serving communist leader ever, right across the waters of the world's oldest democracy is hardly easy. Bearing the burden of a dozen sanctions, economic and otherwise, he managed to not only revolutionize his country as much as was possible, he even sent support in the form of troops, resources and doctors to other countries. For this he was nominated for the Peace Nobel in 2001.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Give it up for Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the president of Cuba.

He may not have been perfect, but there's a lot we can learn from the likes of him.

I found that letter too!

Random Thought

I don't get all the hoopla about time travel .. after all, aren't we all travelling through time anyway? Like everything else around us?

So what would happen if..

.. the likes of Mozart and Bach were alive today rather than a few hundred years ago?

Would the music they wrote still be relevant to us in 300 years, like it is today? In that respect, would today's composers in various genres hold everlasting significance in similar amounts of time? Can a Morrissey hold his own against Handel? Or perhaps Elton John over Faure?

More interestingly, would their music today have catered to the Church - at the time the foremost patron of music, intent on eulogizing virgins (of perhaps dubious character?) and bright shiny stars over random cities in Israel.. but today a sickly mess of an organization, widely inveighed against for all the baggage it has collected over bygone centuries? OR would they have catered their stuff to the clubs, the all-night-rave-scenes with fast paced techno-trance pumped chock full of dried and withered leaves in a heady mix of their psychotropic glory?

Lion kisses woman? Whaaaaa?

What can I *possibly* say after something like this?

iPhone. You Phone. We all phone with iPhone.

If you're a major technology person (or not), or are someone who even remotely glances at news on the internet, yesterday was a watershed in the era of the mobile phone. Apple released what they tout to be the next generation in cellphones - the iPhone. Beautiful. Very Apple-y - droolable icons, fancy colors, and it doubles up as an iPod and a PDA too!

BUT. As great as this product looks, I just HAD to talk about why some of its features are not a good idea. Apple doesn't offer a keypad anymore - not a physical one anyway. So lets say you're the kind of person who has big thumbs or likes to feel a solid click when you dial - thats out. If your phone ever needs to perform in low lighting, you need to turn the screen on just to see the keypad. Hmm, thats not bad you say? There's more. How many times have you had troubles scratching that iPod screen anyway? I'm sure everyone who owns one uses some sort of cover on it. Or those skins which adhere to the very surface. Now, thats when you don't even touch the iPod screen! In this case, you're going to have to dial and drag and click on the screen. Heaven help you if you've uncut nails, or are female.. Lest someone suggest that I'm taking a dig at the fairer sex, what if you've overslept and are late for work and forget to shave? Boom. Everytime you use the phone, the screens going to have some phenomenal scratches. (This one's for the guys, incidentally :-). That said, they do have the coolest way to unlock your phone. Check out the Apple website for some shots. You basically drag an onscreen button to the right to open it - something which would never happen in your pocket.

Of course, they had to go tie up with Cingular inc, the most prohibitively pathetic piece of plumbing ever to exist on the face of this earth. And its going to set you back 600 bucks. Thats USD. And, its unavailable for another 6 months. Talk about the super hype and hoopla eh?

Of course, I'm updating my wishlist as of now.. I wouldn't mind having one of the once the initial kinks are ironed out anyway!

Whats *my* seduction style?

Hmm. I don't quite know what to say - scarily accurate vs complete BS?

Sincere and bold - Sure. Dramatic sweeping gestures - Right On. and apparently, that soft spot can be read much more easily than I thought it would. I think I might choose option 1 above. AND I thought hard about everything in the questionnaire too..

Through Snake Anthony and Hobo!

The You Ess Aae has gone nuts. Officially

The oldest democracy in the world. Secular as hell. Tolerant to all religions. Separation of religion and the state. (Not counting the minor fact that "In God We Trust" is something found on every single fucking dollar bill).

What *Bull*. The bloody war on terror is leading me to increasingly doubt the state of affairs here. No this is not a sudden conclusion. I've felt something of the sort for a long time now. But the final straw?

The hypocrisy. Double standards. Now that the US has a female speaker for the first time, to quote, 'The most powerful politically elected woman in the history of the USA', and who's also second in line to the presidency according to normal protocol - EVERY SINGLE magazine and newspaper's talking about it. And making an example of it, ostensibly, to the world. Wake UP people, countries like the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, not to mention the UK and Germany have had fucking *Heads of State* who've been women. This is not a big deal at all. For the US, yes. For the world, NO.

But, whats even more blood boiling?
In an op-ed piece in freaking _USA TODAY_, Virgil Goode, an obviously deranged Senator wrote, "I believe that if we do not stop illegal immigration totally, reduce legal immigration and end diversity visas, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by those who want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world." (Emphasis Mine) Riiiggghttt. I'm SURE they have.


Happy Two Thousand Seven to you

Spawned from the ashes of the year gone by,
another rises anew - my, does time fly,
another year to live, love and generally behold,
the significant fact that you're just getting old,
come now lets not be the ones to see the old year away,
but instead turn a new leaf and sway,
to the winds of change that dot our lives,
and hopefully deliver us from evil wives,
tis the time to plan ahead and resolutely state,
that you will in fact lose the excess weight,
to think about the $$ that you plan to save,
and ride high on that next stock market wave,
maybe go find that perfect someone,
smart, rich and maybe even fun?
all in all, the contributions you'll make,

that alleviate society too, if they're not fake,
but enough of random new year rhymes,
which say nothing that hasn't been a thousand times,
now i fear i've run out of things to say,
so i'll just stop rhyming and slink away,
a quote to end i think is apt,
this one held the ol' chinese rapt,
'course its not my own for i'm no Dickens,
“A weasel comes to say "Happy New Year" to the chickens”

What can I say - I was bored.