Friday, December 21, 2007
A true to type entirely unnecessary - Time's history of white house fires
The grapevine (not mine.. just some grapevine out there) has it that Cheney's office was having its regular burning of video-tapes, audio-tapes from Obama's bedroom to Guantanamo bay and his personal files in one of the many fireplaces in the annexe when the super-duper-ultra-secret box-of-never-to-be-seen artifacts was also dropped into the fire. Sadly, the box contained the remnants of the shotgun scatter that dear Dick pumped into the behind of the unfortunate "friend" he mistook for a giant orange emu. The pellets showed their indignation at having to face the heat after comfortable lodgings in a lawyer and then in a super secure box that they promptly proceeded to burn the place down. Of course all this is unsubstantiated rumour :D
At the cost of more plagiarism from people wittier than me, the pellets were actually the much-vaunted WMDs that no one ever found and they didn't manage to nail Saddam but they certainly managed a Lawyer and the White House (annexe... yeah... but nevertheless) as a parting shot (pardon the pun, but that was inevitable :D)
In other reports, Cheney is planning to take Hillary and Obama on a trip to a ranch with lotsa game. And other representatives and Senators who've been at the receiving end of Cheney's colourful language on the floor are rather relieved. Patrick Leahy commented that "In retrospect, it looks like I got off easy."
And in addendum to the below pic, we can now safely add setting fire to your underwear to eventually engulf you will be the 12th (the 11h being pumping you with lead birdshot)
Friday, October 26, 2007
Ron Paul seems to be the darling of the internet masses. "Ron Paul" is the second most searched Technorati term after "You Tube"!. At the last incomplete list by a blogger there are an amazing ~70 blogs dedicated to Ron Paul! There's even an "Indian and Pakistani Friends of Ron Paul" Blog!
Incomplete list of Ron Paul Blogs
Most supporters of Ron Paul are democrats who plan to vote republican for Ron during the primaries, like this guy here, in whose post, I was amazed to find, the idea of why to support Ron, practically is the same as mine...
A Republican blog banned users from discussing Ron Paul because he attracted an unusual number of supporters. That's pretty obvious isn't it? Considering the the average Republican supporter who doesn't support Ron couldn't possibly know to read or write coherently much less use the web. And the redstate blog's spokesman commented thus -
"These people are not part of the Republican coalition. It's somewhat naive to think that these people will stay in the race with Republicans when Ron Paul is no longer in the race," said Erickson.
While that may not be all that true today, its obvious that the more literate of the Republican supporters are more libertarian and less republican. As the republican party increasing gets a bad rap as a party that doesn't respect fiscal responsibility especially after the excesses of the current Bush government, more and more libertarains are either going to support the democratic party or work toward strengthening the Libertarian party. And as more and more libertarians move out, the republican party gets even more of a rap as a party of illiterates and fundamentalists. Hmm.. sounds like a dream come true :)
The Clinton administration has proved that the Democrats are more than capable of fiscal responsibility and they aren't so much of a left-leaning party economically as they are liberal.
With more and more innuendo piling up that Ron Paul isn't a republican after all, I assume the people who stick to the republican party because of its fiscal policies and are heavily invested in knowing their politics and their candidates are going to feel more and more alienated about their ideology being given the short shrift. While Guiliani and Romney make a decent attempt at being classic republicans, voters with the kind of heavy investment described will still feel slighted. Once upon a time, in pre-tech revolution times, the Republicans were the party that was the conscience of the liberal and literate. Today it has become a disgusting mish-mash of military-industrial-religion complex that considers its "core" to be that of barely literate christian conservatives, who wanted decent pious lives but who've been mauled and manipulated into bible-thumping, shotgun wielding religious maniacs who bomb doctors, lustfully cry for state sponsored killing and for good measure bay for the blood of "godless" arab-looking people by the likes of nuts, nincompoops and plain idiots like Pat Robertson and Bush. This sad de-facto feudal enterprise is fueled by money from cynical manipulators who abuse the good offices of capitalism, like Bechtel, Blackwater, Halliburton and the slimy like. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a long, heavy slide for the Republicans.
Now, the problem is there would then need to be a credible alternative to the Democrats... Time for a multi-party party of The Green Party, The Libertarian party and the Democratic Party perhaps? he he....
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Why are Brits such naturals at poker-face remarks that sends the rest of the world into paroxysms of giggling? How are they so good at caustic-ism, at making cutting one-liners that invoke a little bit of shakespeare here and a little bit of descartes there?
the particular one that sent me off was "Breastfeeding can shift a lot of weight, fast, partly because you are producing food for someone else to eat, and partly because it kills your appetite while you are doing it, which I think is nature's way of stopping you from getting crumbs in your baby's ears. Don't worry, Milla. Eat as much marrow as you like"
"..getting crumbs into your baby's ears..." not even the wittiest I know can come up with a statement like that, inserted with so much nonchalance and probably unnoticed by most of the world and all of the united states
...getting crumbs into your baby's ears...
The British National Motto
Top 10 Evil things
Looky at the article and ensuing debate on the "brit national motto".. people who're righteously indignant tend to bluster... but does Tristran Hunt? No bloody way.. he's too brit. And if his cutting article doesn't get the message across have a gander at the comments.. the readers have unofficially adopted the 2nd reader's mistaken post "They are the Falklands Islands, twit" as the national motto. I doubled up with laughter. The most irreverent NYT writer couldn't hold a candle to them
As a case in point lets take American humour. Take for example Stephen Colbert whom I admire very much.. take his guest op-ed article in NYT
no.. he isn't trying to be funny, just trying to make a point.. but even when he is, which actually is quite often,.. he couldn't hold a candle to the average Guardian reader. Time for a little diversion.
Now, I don't like American humour or the comedy shows too much. They depend too much on slapstick and choreographed timing that isn't really available to you in real life. But literate humour does exist...
Now this is when Stephen Colbert roasts Bush at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. Funny because of the calculated sarcasm and the target. I simply can't imagine going up on front of one of the most privileged Press circles in the world and roasting the supposedly most powerful man in the world on a spit for a full 15 minutes right to his face!! The gall it takes!!
Colbert on The O'Reilly Factor - absolutely totally brilliant.
And yet.. yet... really can't come close to a brit in a blue cap, in filthy undershirt and dirty cardigans, probably smoking with a can of Coors in the same hand that points to Gordon Brown and says " You Sir, are a hypocrite and a war criminal" in crisp tones, in response to Brown's supposed love for democracy in Burma. No American writer could possibly replicate the sheer irreverent, brilliant humour intrinsic to every sentence in Douglas Adam's every ever written sentence. For my daily dose of endorphins, which aren't provided by my non-existent girlfriend, I use the Daily Mash
But make no mistake the average Guardian reader is not the average Brit. He's the Brit we love, not the hooligan who reads one of those Murdoch owned rags. He's neither the upper class entitled inbred twit who reads the Times nor the lawyer who drools over page 3 in the Mirror/Sun. S/He might be upper class or blue-collar or middle class, or white or black or ethnic indian or pakistani but s/he's the essential brit. Now who is the essential brit? look at the article on the national motto again. "They're the Falkland Islands, twit".
The Irish are supposed to be extremely colourful but caustic, witty and literate at the same time? Nope not really. Its the Brit. The way s/he calls someone a tit or a twat can be more demeaning that the best punjabi gaalis a jat can dream up.
One of the other peoples famous for sarcasm are the Tamils. We're (yeah... wokay.. time for a bit of yoga.. reach around with either arm and pat yourself on the back) anally retentive with people we don't trust but you should look at us have a go at people we don't like. Every Tamil's dream is to make that sarcastic cutting remark that makes his/her rival want to "naaka pudingittu saava vendiyathudhan" ( hang to death by the tongue!). Even when the Tamil gets physically agressive, the stance isn't one of your usual defensive or offensive stances. He or she folds the tongue, sticks it out held between the teeth and thrusts his/her face in yours. It our way of telling you, I don't need my tongue to take care of you, see, my fists are enough. But still we aren't funny unless the explicit agenda is to make fun of someone.
There's another community that give the brits a go for their money when it comes to dead-pan caustic humour. They're the Chinese Americans. Something in their ancestral land combined with something in their adopted homeland seem to have given them the peculiar power of saying the most inconceivable things with an absolute poker face. You never know whether those kitschy hong-kong movies are really like that or they're making fun of themselves. Its the latter... I think. BUt they simply don't have the screen presence on the world stage that the brit has. The Brits wins hands down at literate humour.
Monday, October 22, 2007
If I were American, I have actually found myself a Republican I can vote for and be at peace with my supposed liberal ass self. And that Republican is one I would vote for over the current crop of Democrats... anyday.
I think all Democrats who believe in the principles of the Democratic Party, in liberalism, in libertarianism, in the first amendment, in social security, in putting people above business... rather than in the supposed leading lights like Obama and Clinton should vote for this man. This man stands for all those values far better than any current Democrat leader does. And he does so emphatically.
Four years with him at the helm would change the United States back into one of the most respected nations in the world from the currently rather discomfiting ... most hated.
The man is Ron Paul, Senator from Texas. Yes... TEXAS! A republican from Texas... mother of bloody God... how could that be possible. But yes. It happens. Intelligence, insight and moral superiority shine from wherever. Even from bang in the middle of the center of the religio-industrial-politico complex of cowboy land texas. And even from something as morally degrading as the republican party that uses a "values debate" (values as defined by fundamentalist, obscurantist, morally repugnant and simply stupid interpretations of the new testament) to decide on its candidate.
This silver haired, slight, craggy-faced man is emancipation for American politics. He goes back to the turn of the 20th century Republican morals. When Republican actually stood for the literal meaning of the word "republican" and not the christian fundamentalist organisation that masquerades as a political party today.
This man stands up for personal liberty. In an universe where wussy-democrats who are in majority in the senate still agree to increase discretionary powers to pry into privacy, this man dares to support personal liberty and privacy in the debating platform where pleasing all is a must.
This man stands up for a "when blame needs to be laid, lay it first on yourself" principle to foreign policy when tank-nozzles and f-22 noses are phallic symbols of american pride to "bring democracy wherever oil is" the game of the day. He insists that America set its home right before it preaches to others. !!!.. This man is a Republican. I wouldn't dare say that even in the middle of a bunch of californian academicians. American moral supremacy is something taken for granted by even the most liberal, libertarian person in the USA, except perhaps for Ron Paul and Noam Chomsky!
This personal actually believes and states publicly that all is not hunky-dory with Domestic Policy as executed by the current Government.
I can live with his public stances on core conservative issues- abortion, homosexual rights, christianity and immigration. No one with such emphasis on personal liberty and accountability could go too far right. I do believe that he will straddle the fence and back-burnerise on these core conservative issues, whenever they impinge on liberty. I can live with that. I do believe liberalism and libertarianism can be slowed but never stopped or reversed.
I cry that we can't find someone with his mind in Indian Politics. Americans will never find another like him for the rest of their history. And they will never know it either. He will never get past the primaries, and will only have a select few fans who appreciate what could've been if Ron Paul....
I wonder if six-degrees of separation is too wide to let him know that one of his biggest fans is on the opposite side of the planet and the other side of the universe where political ideology is concerned.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Links to subsequent parts
Thompson: "Well, in a dynamic economy, there are jobs lost and there are jobs gained. And so far, there have been more jobs gained. To put up barriers and say that so-and-so cannot lose a job would be the wrong thing to do in a free-market economy that's been so well for us. It's made us the most prosperous nation in the history of the world."...
"...The manufacturing industry is, in large part, an international industry nowadays, which means prices are set internationally. Manufacturers cannot do much about that but they get hit with cost domestically. We can do a lot about their cost, in terms of taxes and regulation..."
i.e. he will not intervene to help Americans keep jobs but he will intervene to help big business keep competing by artificially helping them keep afloat against fair trade
This is pretty symptomatic of the thinking of most republicans. Isn't the point of governance people?
They're not worried about 700 billion dollars in military spending - a neat 1/4th of a 3 point something trillion dollar budget but all of them keep repeating the litany "We're going to have to fix health care. We're going to have to fix Social Security." McCain differed though with "we got to tell them that we will not spend $2 billion on an aircraft tanker, which I was able to stop and save the taxpayers $2 billion, because of this incredible extravagant waste in defense spending today, which is the biggest part of our budget."
You can also see the republicans struggle with illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants make eminent economic sense. They might use public works.. but you're already spending on it you dumbfucks. They pay taxes on consumption, bring prices down, do jobs that Americans don't, and live in filth and fear to provide rich idiots with sun-kissed oranges and whiter than white linen in your around-the-corner Four Seasons. What do they get for that? Starring roles in american pornography. But Republicans are also torn between economic sense and their inherent xenophobia and racism. Sorry... forget the "torn" part.. they simply choose to be xenophobic because economic conservatism is just an excuse for them to cover up their pork-barell economics.
Romney claims eminence among all presidential hopefuls in business sense. "if we agree to sit down with China, I understand that if we don't get real careful and protect patents and designs and technology, that what we tend to sell the most of, those kinds of things, intellectual property, is going to get stolen by the Chinese or by others, that we have to recognize agreements have to be in our benefit, not just in their benefit." Is that an idiot exhibiting plain naiveté or cynical misleading of the public in how trade is conducted?
In fact to a trained economic ear Guiliani made the best economic sense during the whole debate
Rep. Hunter came across as the worst of them when it comes to economics. His take on "Good Business deals" sounds good superficially but makes for funny reading for anyone with the least amount of intelligence and idea of trade and economics.
Now who is Sen. Paul. He impressed me with his idea of domestic and foreign policy. His view of personal liberty seemed very anti-republican, he actually supports personal liberty!
I'm also surprised that most of them know their Sunnis from their Shias!! :D.. Dubya certainly didn't nor did Cheney or Rumsfeld before they blundered on with their divide and conquer idea so catastrophically backfired on them. I mean I was 23 years old and knew even before the war started what the dumbfucks were going to do and how it was going to end for them!!
Idiots that they are when it comes to policy making, they all come into their own when they talk about their toys. Centrifuges, preemptive, narrow-window, hot pursuit, strategic attack on weaponry are all terms and words that roll easily off the tongue. Except for sen. Paul. Sen. Paul (of Texas!!) comes across as deeply insightful and intelligent. So how come he attends the Republican debate? :D
Work in Progress :D
Monday, October 15, 2007
The transcript of the Republican debate at nytimes.com
I expected to be bored. I expected to be disgusted with conservative views on abortion, immigration, the church and other stuff but the first few minutes of the Republican debate were certainly a huge surprise. Irrespective of the fact that most of the republican hopefuls might in themselves be idiots of the first order (with the exception of maybe McCain, Guiliani and Romney), their advisors and speech writers are certainly first-class. That is to be expected from mostly millionaire conservatives but the way each of their opinions were tailored to appeal to middle class americans could blow a huge hole in Democrats' campaigns. Some of the republicans were actually talking protectionism, indirect sales tax as opposed to income tax... The approval ratings say that people look to democrats to managing the economy properly. The republicans have moved from being right-wing both socially and economics-wise to being simply social right-wingers. The current campaigns seem to be directed to get lost ground back.
The republican's problem is not that they are careful about spending, that's just peachy. Its not that they support lower taxation, fills my heart with joy. The point is that they don't mind cutting spending for health insurance for poor children ( the SCHIP expansion veto) and cutting spending on public works for the average American which lead to incidents like the minneapolis bridge crash, the Katrina bungling etc. but don't think twice about spending on ramping up their testosterone in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in relatively peaceful central asia just to spite Russia or expanding patrolling in the malacca straits (for goodness sake!! what the hell does the US want to do there??)
Their lower taxation is first enjoyed by people with incomes >200000$ per annum and later by those with lower incomes. The higher your income the more you benefit i.e. the lesser you earn the lesser you benefit. And no, not in absolute terms; in percentage terms. Middle class americans pay an average of 30% of his/her income as tax while the hedge fund manager probably pays about 2 to 5% of his close-to-billion$ income, the average CEO pays about 15%. The more you earn the less you pay.
Call me cynical but I think Republicans came up with the idea of indirect consumer taxation, which sounds like a leftist dream, because its easier to screw around with this supposed "fair tax" than with income tax. You can tax bread at 2% and Humvees at 20%. Sounds fair enough. But at the end of the day, everyone eats the same amount of bread (oh! organic bread will be taxed lower of course... guess who consumes organic, whole wheat bread fortified with omega oils?) but the middle class doesn't buy humvees. So a larger percentage of middle class income goes to buy the basics which are taxed at the same rate for everyone while the rich have more money to buy playthings with. In a republican regime, the consumption tax WILL be screwed around with to leave the likes of billionaire ranchers with more money in their hands.
Even supposedly level-headed Guiliani goes "You can't possibly cut every tax, as I think Congressman Tancredo pointed out. You need money for police. You need money for military. But I cut, I think, as many taxes as you possibly could in that period of time.".. oh! he will cut every other tax.. cut every other spending but he wouldn't dream of cutting spending for the actual phallic tools of state control.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Beggars in Spain Book1 is all of 36 pages. 36 pages of unassuming science fiction literature.
Did Nancy Kress have a political stand? Does Beggars in Spain have a political agenda. No. It most certainly doesn't. Its starts out as a one of the three main types of science fiction. That which revolves around a singular invention/innovation/discovery that has intended/unintended consequences to a human/ alien or human/alien society and therein lies the story.
Does she have a long complex plot, a compelling hero, character building for innumerable characters, clear, dirty eminently hate-able villains or a clearly made out contemptible society?
Um... No, no, no, no and no.
But in 36 unpretentious pages, Nancy Kress effectively destroys any and all argument that Ayn Rand builds over two best selling books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, political support which came as a by product of vitriolic anti-russian opinion, celebrity endorsement and more than one foundation dedicated to her and Objectivism.
Now did Nancy ever actually want to do this? I should think not. I assume while she did express her heartfelt opinion, she certainly didn't intend it to be political philosophy.
Beggars in Spain follows the life of "the Sleepless" , a group of genetically modified humans who do not need sleep and particularly Leisha Camden, one of the early Sleepless. They are modified by a group of geneticists who've come to the conclusion that sleep is an evolutionary leftover like tonsils and remove it with genetic modification. The resulting "Sleepless" are invariably intelligent because of the extra 12 hours of stimulation they get per day as children and the extra 8 hours of the day they have as adults. They are pragmatic and well-adjusted (some hormonal side-effect) and are all mostly followers of Yagaaism something that is very similar to Libertarianism.
Things come to a head when it is discovered that another "side-effect" of the turning off of the sleep gene is extremely efficient cell replacement in their bodies. i.e. they are effectively immortal. The Sleepless' pragmatism is confounded by the resistance and hatred they provoke in the normal population. They see themselves as an invaluable cog in the wheel of trade with a lot to offer to the world economy. But the Sleepers see the Sleepless less as cogs and more as a threat and replacement of normal human beings.
With increasing resistance culminating in the hate-killing of a Sleepless, the Sleepless move into an enclosure created by them for themselves called "Sanctuary". They cultivate hate for the Sleepers for their irrationality and their inability to match their prowess and refer to them as "Beggars".
The first book ends with it dawning on Leisha that the Beggars aren't really Beggars but are the receiving end of the economy because of context. Trade is not linear but conducted in an ecology where the beggars not only form an essential part but when the context changes, the Beggars may turn out to be the ones giving charity.
Now why do I say that this destroys Ayn Rand?
1. Trade IS an ecology. It certainly isn't linear and depends on context. The context might change with changes in economic environment, physical environment, socio-cultural environment, evolution... any number of things. Rand's view of the economy is simplistic to the point of being laughable.
2. As with the Fountainhead, in "beggars in spain", the epitomes of libertarianism necessarily HAVE to be EXCEPTIONAL people. As with Roark an exceptional architect, the Sleepless have to have exceptional things to give to the economy to prove their point. Why? Why can't Rand have used an ordinary worker at a Detroit auto factory to prove her point? Because she can't. At least not the way she defines her "Objectivism". Objectivism has a helluva lot of problems than libertarianism. As she defines it, there can be only one person with one exceptional ability. There can only be one exceptional architect. If there are two the other will starve to death. One might argue that if the other offers an advantage by working twice as long as the other but has only 1/2 of the creative ability, the market will be given a choice. No! You're forgetting that the rest of the society is objectivist too. They will all see the same benefits. They will ALL choose the same architect. The other will still starve to death. We are also assuming that this architect who will build a good architecture consultancy will, on his retirement, give his business totally up to the next competent architect wherever he might be. (Don't ask me how the next architect arrives precisely at the time this guy retires as he would've died of starvation if he's arrived earlier and society will have to do without an architect if he arrives later) without ensuring nurturing his blood progeny instead.
3. A civilisation based on "objectivism" reverts to tribalistic society. Small groups of people each providing a service/product to each other that they do best and others cannot; as purely objectivistic society cannot exist in larger groups with competing resources of same competence. Consequentially, innovation and invention suffers as society needs multi-disciplinary individuals, multi disciplinary teams, many people of similar competences etc. to further technology, thought and philosophy.
I honestly don't believe that an objectivist society that celebrates selfishness and ego ever developing the steam engine much less sub-atomic physics or spacecraft.
WORK IN PROGRESS :D
Thursday, September 13, 2007
LOOK UNTO ME AND TREMBLE...FOR...
I am the Pastafarian
I am the Pastafarian
I am the Pastafarian
I am the Pastafarian
I have been said to be in the same lineage as Russel's Teapot. HOW DARE THEY!!! A pox of lifelong substance abuse on them. I AM THE PASTAFARIAN. I don't come from any "Lineage". I AM existence and to amuse me I brought you into existence. Also to keep me company, I also brought a daddy-o, wispy ghost and holy vodka into existence.
I have been said to be related to a vague pink flying invisible unicorn. I scornthose who say that, I spit on them, I throw them in contempt of the court of Marinara Sauce. You dare relate me, the sacred PASTAFARIAN, to those superstitious fools? If the unicorn were invisible how do you know its pink? eh? Eh? EH??? TEll me thaTT!!! And they readily agree that the "both of us" (note the collective term... psyching me into their beliefs) are from "Russel's Teapot" and they are in fact the less dogmatic and hierarchical of the two. Of course they press the point with the Pink Unicorn Dearest Diary in one hand and a Uzi Submachine gun in the other.
The Last Thurdayists have gone on record and called me just one of "God's Prophets" and their prophet is in fact the final prophet and theirs is the "Final Religion"... AAARRGHHH OWWWWRRRR... That's a lot of nerve for a god who took seven days not counting thursdays to create the world... I did it at the speed of thought.
(No Bill gates.. you cannot sue me for copyright infringement.. I am omnipotent.. and I'll move to Linux) And to show their hostility toward me, they ran my favourite RC controlled speedboats into my 20 story luxury yacht. Barbarians!! Is this how they get back at me for the innocent looting that I did in their little towns?
Polytheistic religions? those pagans? they are pretty colourful.. I'll give it to them... I'll let you into a secret though.. you know when I'm twiddling my thumbs at my Holy Center of the Universe, Batty-can Metropolis, I created not just the daddy-o, wispy ghost and the holy vodka but also lotsa angels in yellow and black spandex. Then there are Supervisor Angels in red and black spandex, and four Pasta-favourite angels in (giggle) see-through spandex ;) . And to take care of you my little noodlisms, I've created 5120 Supermen. If you've mobile phone problems pray to your mobile phone superman before you pray to one of the angels. Don't bother me though, I'm still trying to create blue-yellow spandex. On top of that I've created gollums, smollums, cheery little hermaphrodites with wings that shoot expanding lead bullets at you to give you multiple orgasms, little people, large people et all. So there. We are every bit as colourful as those pagans with multiple gods and demigods and .. well .. whatever.
Onto my most gullible devotee, Nirmal...
(why do I use this tender, loving, sexy, genius's blog to express myself, you ask? Because you'd do good to be nice to him.. that's why.. I know that isn't a logical answer but my lines are supposed be read in-between too)
After that thrilling self-introduction (my spine is still tingling).. let all believers give THE PASTAFARIAN an "ooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyaaaayyyyyyy" in joy...
ok good enough.
Now.. our little helpers will pass around a petition that the Golden Quadrilateral intersects the Holy Village of GummiddiPoondi, which is of great historical importance to us Pastafarians (in the image of the IT) by virtue of being the point of the 2789th sighting of THE PASTAFARIAN. The government must cease and desist and resign for impinging upon our religious beliefs or we will resort to peaceful protests of burning government and private vehicles, government and private property and also peacefully harm a few Pink Unicornists in the cross-peaceful-fire. Please sign it or you will be sent to pasta hell with stale beer and strippers with HIV.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
I don't have the capacity or depth to eulogise them but I certainly love them enough to mourn their passing.
James Brown, the Godfather of Soul became the stuff of memories on 25th of december 2006 and Luciano Pavarotti one of the greatest modern tenors did the same today the 6th of september 2007.
"Sex Machine" will get my adrenaline going till I die and I'll lip synch with Pavarotti as he does "Volare", veins in my neck straining till I've got my hearing.
I'm not particularly proud of the one time these two of my favourite musical stars came together on stage
:D but Pavarotti had this penchant for being "featured" with the greatest stars not that being "featured" meant he was second billed. As far as I know except for James Brown, Sinatra and Barry White, everyone else only had their thunder stolen by the tenor :D
And no one will be particularly proud of "Yes, Giorgio", his one venture into movies.. more nominations for the Raspberry than anything else :)
James though had a few appearances, all of them reasonably successful.
My favorite? Beat The Devil... not your run of the mill appearance though
The clip also proves Clive Owen can't fake a laugh to save his life :D
A life brilliantly and colourfully lived is something that binds them together. They are two of those who would encourage us to smile and remember them for lives well lived.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Its a superlative work on world history and the work and thought and research that has gone into this cult-ish book defies imagination. Jared Diamond has made it seem so easy to have done the work he has.
Jared has taken pains to establish the overwhelming influence of environment in who we are today and what we are today.
Reviews @ Amazon
As it is, I think this book has come at the threshold of a time in which us humans no longer depend on environments to shape our futures. Maybe we do. But the influence of the environment has become less and less a shaping factor and this era is an inflexion point where it ceases to be overwhelming. Yet it certainly doesn't take away that our respective environments have been the defining causative bringing us to this threshold in the first place.
There would've been a million .. billion ways we could've reached this threshold and even more ways that we never might've!! These thoughts blow away the mind. I might as well have read the seminal historic 13th Century BC work "Guns Germs and Steel" on a holographic nano-book on my way to Sirius by a historian Jared Diamond(Its is generally agreed that if it were not for the Catholic Church induced dark/middle ages, our history would've been fast forwarded by at least 8 centuries) or been a policeman speaking Mandarin in a gangster capitalist Chinese world looking for Khoisian African communists who follow the work !xobile or spitting a fowl over fire in my leather undies...
But for accidents of geography, climate and local biology and to a lesser extent accidents of personality like Octavian who created the Roman Empire as we know it, Christ who created the most popular of religions, Muhammad who created a hugely popular alternative to Christ's, Copernicus who first stood up to the insecure and barbaric Catholic Church and created the spark of scientific temper that changed the world and delivered Europe from the dark ages, Columbus who by sheer enterprise made the world round, Newton who provided us with unified calculus which was seemingly useless until the 19th century showed its true potential, Marx who thought way ahead of his time and changed the history of the world by penning an ideal, Qin Shi Huang who unified China with an iron grip and made the Middle Kingdom look inward and thus effectively nixed what could've been the Chinese world than the English world ...etc.. so much of our world's history would've been different!
Jared also demolishes so many fondly held myths along the way... the principal of which is that of European or Eurasian superiority.
I've added this to the list of stuff that my kids HAVE to read (when I have them that is :D) along with both of Nehru's works and The Hindu :D
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Its one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world. Its supposed to be the fount from which Mumbai will stake its position as an International Financial Center. Its supposedly beautiful. Its actually pretty filthy, tacky, uncomfortable and quite ... well... unimpressive. 15 minutes from two of the busiest suburban railway stations in Mumbai, Bandra and Kurla, lies this hope of emancipation from endemic congestion - the Bandra Kurla Complex.
The old section of BKC, which consists of 80's offices is well thought out, beautifully laid out and is incredibly comfortable for the Mumbai denizens who work there, though the buoildings look seedy, worn down and the usual above-vindhyas charactreristic - painted red with paan. There are shopping areas, parks, wide pathways and good connectivity to the Bandra and Kurla stations.
Which is more than what can be said for the new area on the other side of the Mithi river. Filled with buildings that started out ambitious and ended up looking tacky and pretentious, we have huge buildings which seek to look like skyscrapers ....with seven floors, lots of cheap glass, aluminium lining and flaky concrete.
The only buildings that escape the general cheapness are the IL&FS building (where thankfully, I work) and the ICICI building.
There are no stores to get stuff before you go home, the buses are way crowded by the time they get here, there being only 3 stops and 2 routes for a complex that hopes to be the destination for tens of thousands, even hundreds , no park to have a quiet lunch or post-lunch stroll. There are no great places nearby to take guests to dinner to, just a cramped ol Subway and a CCD tucked away in petrol stations. One of the routes into BKC takes you through one of the most desperate slums I've ever seen. You thought only newspaper guys got these tricked up angles where they juxtapose poverty with affluence. Here you see it with no tricky angles.
As a Business District, BKC has started out as quite a farce. But it should hopefully get better. A business district isn't made exclusively of glass offices and more glass offices with the perfunctory conference/exhibition complex.
Planners should've learned from the costly mistakes of Canary Wharf (which thankfully redeemed itself) and La Defense which is a ghost town after 6 pm despite being so beautiful.
La Defense, Paris-->
<--Canary Wharf, London
It takes far more thought to make a successful business district. Levent in Istanbul being a surprising but beautiful example as is AZCA in Madrid.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Hemp t-shirts, holidays in eco-forests (what are those, aren't all forests "eco"?), biodiesel cars ( don't they pollute as much and increase food prices to top it off?).. take your pick, just pay a premium for the "green" tag.
Married with so ubiquitous a consumerist society that we don't even see the hypocrisy or irony of our actions. What can you do to save the environment? "Buy a Prius" it seems. I got this sarcastic soundbite from an article on the freegans in the NYT
Freegans in urban United States
The freegans are a community that basically lives off the fringes and throw-aways of a consumerist society
Umm... I certainly wouldn't meet them even half-way in terms of opinion but they certainly have a point.
One might easily be tempted to call the freegans parasites but they aren't. That they CAN live off cities' refuse doesn't mean they have to. Their way of living is sustainable and scalable to a point. In an enabled environment, they can immediately move to locally produced food and environmentally friendly housing, furniture and other items for living made within the community. And at its peak they might resemble some sort of a marriage between the Amish and Marx in a modern and liberal setting. While the majority seem to lean far far away into the left, you can see that they're educated, middle class younger people who're not doing these to be parasitic but to reduce the impact of society on the environment. My understanding of this comes from as simple a gesture as sharing the half full bottle of tide down the line insead of hoarding it. And while the left is always at the forefront of such campaigns, everyone can in fact be partly freegan simply by watching what you throw out and watching what you buy. Given that the fashion world couldn't possibly survive if people don't throw out last season's clothes or the automobile industry or the electronics industry... developed countries especially can build better, tighter reduce, reuse, recycle regimens.
I don't buy the argument of "exploiting resources" though. There is a certain price we pay for being who we are. Physics experiments take up enough electricity that could power cities for a whole year in minutes... are we gonna stop progress in physics then? How about stopping space exploration, the billions of tons of fuel that go up in...well .. smoke? Or giving up progress in nano technology, metals and materials, even garment technology because we don't like nuclear technology? Fashion stimulates and so does research in finance.
Another example of popular consumerism masquerading as environmentalism
Are people so stupid that the don't understand that globalisation is so entrenched that even if the t-shirt says "Made in Downtown LA", the cotton comes from Egypt, the dye from China and the rubber for printing from Malaysia and its worse to import all these including that large percentage which will inevitably be waste. Moreover its economically harmful for poorer countries if you import the raw materials and export finished goods and that is a throwback to colonial imperialist times?
Instead people with a voice can lobby for better public transport, faster and better trains instead of letting airlines proliferate, policy toward de-centralisation of the food market and encouraging local foods, policy that favours power from renewable energy, advertisements directed at children etc.... These issues do not restrict the pro effects of capitalism such as enablement of entrepreneurship but help reduce the irresponsible consumerist aspect of capitalism.
Ask my friends, I would be the first on the wire about climate change, ecological footprints, energy efficiency et all.
But are we taking all this a bit too far? Sure being ecologically sensitive is great. But fashion statements are making all this a bit too frivolous. People are making supposedly ecologically sensitive statements in their lives because it is fashionable to do so, not because it is the right thing to do. Do you say, "So what? whatever their motives, people are treading down the right path aren't they?"? True. But only to a certain point in time. If being ecologically sensitive is but a fad, it will run its course and we will be right back in square 1.
Take a look at this
The Cardiff Diet
The ecologically sensitive diet for Cardiff residents is all bloody brilliant. But even a vegan hermit wouldn't stick to it. When people who've started replacing their incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones see that the Jones' are doing the Cardiff diet... well , need I elaborate? I'll tell you what faddists will do. They'll shop where the Jones' do for all the stuff in the cardiff diet and then when they've been seen doing the right things, they swing the SUV around and go to the nearest Tesco to get their kiwi fruit, Chilean wine and Indian mangoes.
We need to be more rational about the whole ecologically sensitive thingy. People are living in a world of plenty where being a planet saving super-family doesn't just take a lot of effort but also a lot of self-control.
And we should take every possible effort to discourage the faddists. When we create faddists who'll simply look for air miles on Caribbean bananas, we're creating people who've no vested interest in creating a better world. When their interest wanes, they will not simply give up their fad and go away. Rather they will attempt to justify their leaving and tell all and sundry about why they left and why the others should too. And you can be sure they won't pick up the next eco-sensitive fad. "Oh I tried that, it all just so much bull".
It indeed is better to have a smaller if genuine bunch of people who understand how they impact the world with their choices. This bunch will grow organically(pardon the pun :D) and we'll find in a generation, a genuinely concerned people instead of a bunch of people who're so proud of having funneled their bathwater to their garden that they are done with their eco-sensitive deed for the lifetime.
This though is the way people need to be aware. To conserve, reduce, reuse and recycle whenever, wherever, however they can and yet not make hermits out of themselves. Opinion leaders from the growing community of responsible people can push for policy changes to make regions more responsible and then nations.
Well it started off quite nicely too... I was asked to write up something on the "freedom of expression" side of the debate on banning SMS/Insta polls. And I did. And true to type I didn't believe a word of what I said :D Anybody with half a brain could pick a million holes in my ~500 word article :D
I'd rather have written the other side of the article. I'd have concluded that banning wasn't the way because banning simply isn't the way and put up a strong argument for restrictive controls and cumbersome disclaimers on SMS/Insta polls. But hey! I wasn't going to give up my first shot at getting my voice heard in a reasonably famous newspaper :D
And though I should've expected it, that of course is retrospect... my rant was mangled almost beyond recognition, terms reinvented and deleted and added, grammar and spellings messed up, the argumentative tone(ok ok :D that's how I hope it sounds) impotent-ised and the slightly scientific tone totally erased! Ok... so it wasn't that bad... but it was bad never the less.
OK... there seems to be a problem with the direct link to the article. So one needs to go to the bottom of this page and click "Edits" on the "Today's Stories" section and then go to the "No case for Ban on SMS Polls" article... finally.... :D... whoever said the first step to opinion leadership is easy?
My Original Rant.
Nirmal TS Kumar,
Whatever the apology for a ban it can never be strong enough to override
the preponderance of as simple a concept as freedom of expression. Freedom
of expression of both the audience and the media.
Firstly SMS/Internet polls are not used to elect premiers of countries or
create theories of the universe. They're primarily used to know whether the
saas needs to be bumped off or the bahu be sent to a mental institution.
Neither the marketer nor audience make earth shattering decisions with the
help of these polls. The prime excuse against polls is that they're not
representative and the respondents are self-selecting. Why may I ask do
they need to be representative or non-self-selecting in the first place?
From an audience's or the marketer's or even from the statistician's
perspective, there is simply no need to be representative. The people who
respond to these polls maybe skewed by their tech-savviness or their
predisposition toward wanting to involve themselves in what they are an
audience to. Yes, but opinion-wise they're as good as any carefully
selected sample. And yet they have no need to be representative as, well,
the poll simply makes no promise to.
Another argument is that the options are very restrictive. All
statisticians worth their salt will tell you about their struggle with
marketers to reduce the number of options. Sure more options mean more
information for a marketer but more options immediately open up the sample
to bias and also increases the marketer's ability to introduce "leading"
options. Faced with a poll, people almost never take an "agree strongly" or
"disagree strongly" option. It is almost always one of the middle options.
The results do not adequately reflect the respondents' opinion. The lesser
the options the better and two is the ideal number with "can't say/don't
know" a necessary auxiliary.
Lets be frank, the polls are a marketer's tool to make the audience feel
involved with the media. In their single dimensional world where they
disseminate information with no idea where it goes or how it is received,
marketers are desperate for any feedback. They know that a feedback loop is
a powerful tool to pull in an audience and retain them but even internet
based media doesn't have effective feedback loops. So marketers do the next
best thing, a semblance of a feedback loop that doesn't give them audience
information but nevertheless makes the audience feel involved.
the banning of such polls can also be used to ban suffrage, advertising,
non-state controlled media and any form of free expression. Any argument
that supports a ban essentially presupposes that an audience needs to be
"protected" from evil polls from which they lack the capability to protect
themselves from. Considering, especially, the audience of today which is
exposed to media that carries such polls, that is certainly not so. There
simply is no place for such a ban.
Unlike a Penitent Germany Japan resolutely refuses to de-glossify its past. Probably one of the most cruel campaigns in the history of Civilization, the Japanese WW2 campaign encompassed most of Asia. But Korea and China had a special place in the hearts of the Japanese. A special place reserved for its worst forms of cruelty.
Japanese War Crimes
The not so famous but equally tumultuous Japanese version of Nuremberg
Japan's incapability to learn from and accept its past
The disgusting and unforgivable hate and supremacism of the Nazis, is almost matched at times by the incredible havoc the marauding Japanese wrecked on these two nations.
“I express my sympathy for the hardships they suffered and offer my apology for the situation they found themselves in.”
Says Shinzo Abe. !!!. "they found themselves in" Indeed. The oldest trick in apologies. Would be funny if only the issue weren't quite as disgusting.
Instead of offering even a modicum of penitence, the Japanese have indeed chosen to make it a rallying point for jingoistic Nationalism and Premier after Japanese Premier has paid homage at the contentious shrine of Japanese "War heroes" instead of at the very least ignoring it.
Japanese ongoing work at rewriting and glossing over their history
Even the Sangh attempts at changing the curriculum in India weren't as blatant. The Japanese run roughshod over their war crimes, comfort women, treatment of POWs and a hundred other indignities
It is well know that the Japanese are an emasculated nation. A nation where people commit suicide because of their inability to say no. In a spectacularly schizophrenic hedonistic milieu also run some of the hardest feelings of Racism, Casteism and Cultural Conservatism.
Probably the world's most closed cultures, the Japanese are neither understood nor willing to be. In a increasingly global world where the Indians and the Chinese cut costs 10 times better than them, Germany beats them in quality, the US in productivity and never having been a center of creativity, invention or innovation and mostly dependent on incremental modifications to existing concepts, the Japanese are the verge of imploding. And are already mostly irrelevant
Its time the Japanese realise that there is a world out there that would never miss them. And what is fast becoming the world's most powerful country would rather it didn't exist at all
It is indeed time that the Japanese re-invent themselves and get over their collective hang-up. At the very least they ought to have their own classical music !!
Why didn't any Indian IT company win the Idea deal? One could've thought that the Bharti deal was a one-off and Bharti was labouring under the false impression that Indian companies couldn't handle the breadth of what it required - Telecom consulting, IT infrastructure, Application Development and Maintenance, Telecom Technology-IT interfacing, BPO, Shared Services etc. Lets for arguments sake say that if some Indian company say Wipro which was supposedly a contender or HCl which has the breadth but not the depth had stretched themselves, they would've won Bharti.
But two successive major deals lost means the impression is not false and Indian IT companies are indeed short on competencies.
And whose fault is it. And what does it portend?
For one, MNC IT companies like IBM, HP, Accenture, EDS have quickly scaled up to the challenge of cost arbitration posed by the Indians. But the Indian companies have not built their depth or breadth in ADM, or consulting or Infrastructure management. Are they going to live off the little maintenance deals that the MNC majors throw at them? What happens when the majors figure that they don't want to give those around anymore? Once they have the infrastructure market cornered among them and away from Western minors which've been wiped out by lower costs from the Indians, the Majors are going to not only have the expertise and economies of scale to to ADMs cost effective, but also the hegemony to demand fatter margins off ADMs.
The Hindu article says India will maintain a lead on cost arbitrage for 20 more years. Even if that were true, the implicit thought that "India" refers to Infosys, TCS, Wipro, HCL will be replaced by names like IBM, Accenture, EDS, HP and Cap Gemini.
And this Business Today article says the Indians still stand a chance as the market wants to spread their risk with breaking up contracts and bigger chunks are being given o Indians. I say that the market is instead swinging the other way round. IT clients like consolidation nowadays. They don't want to maintain a hundred legacy systems and hundred times hundred interfaces. They don't want uncertainty in vendors. They want a reliable vendor who can perform the breadth of their IT needs and if the vendor is a globally acknowledged brand like CSC or IBM... that's just peachy.
First they didn't notice that India was not just the fastest in being a service provider but also one of the fastest growing in requiring services... Techies and consultants having cut their teeth in the tough Indian market would've been hardened veterans before stepping into the International space.
Second, ADM is a cash cow. And Cash Cows breed complacency.
Thirdly the Indians are usually happy with being told that they have the potential to be world winning. Potentially world winning is enough... it isn't really necessary to actually go do the wining... too much like real creativity needed. We're happy correcting bugs till we're fired and the coffee machine is taken away.
The Indians are still too concerned fighting among themselves for lower billing rates to notice that they're in very real danger of having being just a flash in the pan. They lived and fought gloriously and made the world sit up and notice but defeated they will be, if they continue to be so blase about their future. Oh they'll probably survive. They'll probably even grow bigger they become smaller but they'll survive but as sad remnants of the famous Indian IT Service majors that sent shivers down the collective spine of the MNC IT majors.
There is a very democratic quality to the music that wafts through the corridors of my consulting office. From kitschy baby sounds, to pavarotti to carnatic to japanese tunes to something quite zulu-like. Its continuous, sometimes tinny sometimes crystal clear sometimes danceable, starts at about 8.00 in the morning and is shut off at about 8.00 in the evening. Heyyyy.... waitaminute....
:D oh yeah...oh yeahh...you caught on.. music in offices?? that too a consulting one??.
One second everyone was blissfully involved with steel companies, video technologies and process flows and the next, everyone is looking accusingly at a person embarrassedly shutting of a phone call he just made. The culprit? A rather tinny "O mere sona re.." from the caller tune of a client on speaker phone.
Nowadays its not just the ringing tone of your phone that makes a statement about you...its also your caller tune. Its become a minor business of its own what with Airtel coming out with its songcatcher thingamajig that can make 15 seconds of just about any noise your caller tune.
The problem in my office being, everyone dials numbers routinely on speaker phonefor conferences which usually gave those nice soft safe sounding rings now suddenly blasts unsuspecting Consultants with Iron Maiden, Shakira, totoboy, wirepins(!)... and horrendously..BappiDa.
Grey haired and Subject matter experts and friends of Prince Charles and Stephen Hawking are routinely blasted. Do they cringe??? NO sireee.. They hold out their own blackberries to do the Songcatcher thingy.
For a better experience of music in office logon to the one of the best freesites I've ever seen.
and have awesome fun. Yeah but I warn you, you'll be clogging up bandwidth in your office. Right...like we care...:D
Finally do ring/caller tunes really make a statement? Honestly they do. And they're almost always negative unless your taste matches exactly..yes, exactly, with the person you're calling. Mostly Caller/Ring tunes elicit chuckles and not gasps of admiration as we'd like to believe. You know that and I know that.. its just that we'd like to believe otherwise :D
And on one hand India suffers from repression of reportage. On the other we have a race among media houses to the bottom of the intelligence quotient.
A 5 minute snap-shot across the Indian news channels, a 10 minute read of the largest Indian newspapers (with the honourable exception of the Hindu) sends me directly into depression. Even the eminently anti-establishment Outlook comes up with inane sex surveys to prop up its readership.
Isn't it time Vinod Mehta realised that the english literate Indian is not anti-establishment, socialist and culturally liberal but conformist to the point of being painful, gangster-capitalist and a lemon-sucking prissy prude? S/He wants the sex-surveys, Yes, but please don't advertise it on the cover. How're they supposed to leave it on the coffee table then? eh? follow the India Today path of popular gratification with a condescending snapshot of social(passe) issues maybe twice a year.
The race to the bottom is led by the incredibly numerous Indian TV News Channels. The genre has hardly been noticeable for more than half a decade but it has already plumbed the depths that American TV news networks took half a century to achieve. The worst of journalistic sensationalism, insensitivity and sheer dumbfuckedness has been borrowed from the Americans with none of the professionalism, dedication to sources and confidentiality, presentation and language...nothing.
Rajdeep Sardesai speaks coherently on his opinion on electronic news media but why does it take a third party to see the irony that his channel CNN-IBN leads the moron-quotient in news channels by a huge margin? Doesn't he realise that CNN-IBN has become the epitome of misguidedly market-led media. His market interpreters do not give enough credit to the Indian viewer and think of us, as Sardesai himself puts it, passive morons.
Most media houses follow the lead of CNN-IBN and consider us passive morons. Therefore we have 3 full days of Rakhi Sawant being kissed by Mika across EVERY channel, we have every anchor, newscaster waiting with bated breath to make sarcastic comments on lawmakers they're interviewing, on-site anchors who blissfully sail through painfully bad english and insist on holding on to their monologue and half-baked opinions while the studio-anchor embarrassedly tries to cut him/her off.
He raises even more questions about the Delhi/Mumbai centered media which is blissfully unaware of realities outside the municipal limits of these cities, not they aren't important but in an universe in which the primary consumers of English media are down south and even fleeting focus on rural India can make a real difference, they remain ignorant of both actual market realities and their duty as the Fourth estate.
Times of India reduced farmer suicides in Vidarbha to a cool numerical Count-Up statistic.
Is it even conscionable on its part to start a "India Poised" campaign during such times? Even the language of the campaign is moronic blaming that part of India that has never seen much less given better opportunities as the ones "holding back" India. And not only is Indian media getting dumbed down, it in the true form of stupidity fostering insecurity and thus vindictiveness we also see bullying by them
Not to mention the increasing reduction of pride in independence of editorial, None of the major news media commented on the blatantly repressive affair a'la IIPM
In the throes of the initial years of becoming a mature market, Indian Media has shown its worst face. And there is no where to go but up. Will it?
Monday, January 15, 2007
Oh the Shame the shame!!
Did I take relief from the fact that the US ranked 119 for its occupied territories? why the hell would I?
Here lies the full report for the Press Freedom Index 2005
Is the Indian Government really so repressive towards the Indian press? On first thought I'd say "Of course not, Who're they kidding". But I then realised, its not the general press freedom that RSF is talking about. It the press freedom that the Government deigns to allow when push comes to shove. Its the freedom of the Press that is acknowledged and respected by the Citizens of a country.
What's the kind of red tape, animosity and sheer state sponsored anger that reporters are faced when they try to report in Kashmir, the Naxal areas, terrorist infested North-east and such? Forget those, what happens to the reporter who tries to report on the election of dalits in supposedly progressive Tamilnadu? S/he is stonewalled, misled, threatened and at times harmed bodily not just by irate villagers but by partisan and corrupt officials. And we finally never get to know about these anyways do we?
A gander at POST-riot treatment of journalists in Gujarat
A more comprehensive look at attacks on reporters in India in 2002
And what about the lame attempts of the Indian government to restrict blogs and social network sites like Orkut? That's not just repressive thats downright embarassing.
Its not just the Government that doesn't respect the freedom of the press. Reporters are routinely beaten up by people at the wrong end of the microphone.
Its a shame that the Fourth estate is thus repressed. Not as overt as it is covert.
THIS is only half the story though.