Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Look! a New Year!

I haven't had time in the last few days to properly put my travel experiences all over India in words [don't worry, I am taking extensive notes, including that of my train travel last night in the cheapest traveling class :)].

In the meantime, here are my new year wishes to you all, in a hitherto-untried format.

And yes, this was all recorded and uploaded at Patna, the capital of the "most backward" state in India. Take that!

Happy New Year 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Relative Stability

After a 12-day trip involving Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ranchi, I am finally at my parents' place in Patna.


Just got off the train, and on the internet :).

And now, off to shower, and then blogging, perhaps :).

bye, and Merry Christmas all!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Paris Snaps

As I prepare to leave for India [flying to Delhi tomorrow evening], and to lower bandwidths as I travel, I figured I should upload some snaps for you all to see.

Album 1: Winter in Paris: including actual snow at my workplace [as mentioned here]

Album 2: Salon Du Chocolat

And finally, for now,
Album 3: Thanksgiving!

and now, off to sleep, got a long, intercontinental day tomorrow! [and a hectic month :) ]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gmail To-Do

Do you, like me, use and love gmail? If so, you will be extremely happy to read about their new to-do feature [ref: ToI].

'nuf said. Go read the article and enable this in the labs features, I have things "to do" :).

P.S. I had recently emailed them asking for being able to make emails "sticky" -- and given you can add emails to your task list, my wish has been granted! Thank you Santa!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Embroidering Your Way to Power

The better India blog had a very nice article today about women in Rajasthan who have achieved financial empowerment by way of learning skills that help them sell the products of their skills and hard work. From the article:
From being totally dependent on their husbands for a living to gaining financial independence, they are on the fast track to discover themselves. There are some women who have been victims of wife battering, marital rape and molestation too. “As these women are now contributing to the family income, they command respect from their families and their relationships with their husbands have improved as the husbands have started believing in their wives’ capabilities,” says Lee, a volunteer from Taiwan, who works with these women now.

Good stuff. The article also has links to other such efforts.

And in other news, it snowed here!!!!! I must say it was the first time I saw snow falling and the ground turning white [I have seen pre-snowed ground, and snow that falls and melts when touching the ground, but this was the complete experience :) ].

In still other news, I will be flying to India this Friday. yay!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Live and Uncensored! K&K Ep. 200

Its here, the 200th episode of the K&K podcast! [and yes, Your's Truly will be there!]
You can read about it here, watch is live below, and chat about it here!

The event starts at 5pm Paris time, but the video might start one hour earlier.

And now, I am off...

Webcam chat at Ustream

Friday, December 05, 2008

Parlez vous podcast?

I am on the train back from Brussels to Paris [and in the 1st class, no less!]. The trip went well, esp the keynote today from the Dean of EPFL. Also, the chocolates I bought today, as well as the food we were given all this week was simply fabulous.

And now, I am looking forward to the celebrations tomorrow for episode 200 of the Katia and Kyliemac podcast!

And for this, I give you the third installment of my guest appearance on the K&K podcast. Episode 198, the one where they talk about arranged marriages... and stuff...

The MP3 is here, and as always, you can listen to the streaming version below.

In case you missed my last two appearances, for ep. 197,
You can download the MP3, or listen to it below.

And for those who missed the initial one, here is the MP3, and the streaming audio is below.

And don't forget to check out episode 200, which will be streamed live! There are rumors that a certain PhD from USC will have a guest appearance ;).

P.S. I must say I liked the podcast experience, and am greatly thankful to K&K for the opportunities. You ladies rock!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Letter to the PM

This evening, the Indians in Paris will participate in a peace march. Sadly, I will miss it, on account of being in Leuven for a conference.

That being said, I am happy that I was able to do my bit for the march. As decided in the coordination meeting we had last saturday, I wrote a letter which the people will sign and give to the Indian ambassador. I am reproducing the letter below. You are most welcome to "sign it" in the comments section.


The Honorable Prime Minister of India,
Dr. Manmohan Singh

The Honorable Ambassador of India to France,
Mr. Ranjan Mathai

Respected Sir,
We are a community of Indians living in France, some for many years, and some for a few weeks now. Some of us have made us this our home, while others intend to return to our motherland soon once our work here is done. Regardless of our current location, we all have friends and loved ones in back home, and indeed, are members of the family called India.

The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai have deeply shaken all of us here, who spent many hours glued to our TV sets and web browsers, watching the events unfold on live news. While many of us directly or indirectly knew those who fell victim to the reprehensible acts of the terrorists, all of us share the pain, the anguish, and the feeling of helplessness and uncertainty that this incident has evoked.

Through this letter of ours, we condemn the horrendous acts of the terrorists who sought to kill innocent civilians by attacking the financial capital of our country. Our prayers are with the families of all those who lives were cut short by this incident, the innocent civilians as well as the valiant security personnel who sacrificed their lives while opposing the monsters who perpetrated this attack. We also express our relief for the saved lives of those who escaped this ordeal alive, and wish that their wounds, both physical and mental, heal soon.

We would also like to wholeheartedly express our deep gratitude towards our security forces -- including the Mumbai Police and Fire Department, ATS, NSG, MARCOS, and others who were involved -- who rose to the occasion and worked tirelessly and valiantly to lead us out of this dark hour. Our thanks are also due to those nameless civilians who helped support the operations, both inside the affected buildings and out.

On this solemn hour, we share the feeling of our fellow Indians, who are shocked by the failure of our security apparatus to anticipate this attack, and are feeling let down by our elected leaders. At this moment, Honorable Sir, we are looking up to our leaders to chart a new course in our domestic security policy so that attacks like this never happen again.

On the above note, we humbly submit that Indians have been attacked by terrorists time and again in the 61 years of our existance, and after each attack the public has heard our leaders make promises of making the country more secure so these attacks never happen again. Needless to say, these promises have gone unfulfilled, as evidenced by the audacity of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Dear Sir, at this time, we are looking up to you and the administration to break the trend followed by our politicians for all these years. We would like to suggest that when the government announces its plan to combat terrorism this time, it also clearly define concrete success criteria and clear timeframes, which can be used by the people of India to unequivocably evaluate the deliverance of these promises.

The Indian citizens are looking up to you for guidance and a call for action, and we promise to deliver on whatever you ask us to do. Please lead us by example to a safer, more secure India.

with best wishes,
The Undersigned.
December 4, 2008

Name, Location

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Listen to Me

[update: event link updated. I meant the Paris one]
No really, listen to me, at my second appearance on the K&K podcast, k&k episode 197 - the one where they discuss the beauty of live streaming audio and free speech... and stuff....

You can download the MP3, or listen to it below.

And for those who missed the last one, here is the MP3, and the streaming audio is below.

OK then, goodnight!

BTW, I would love to go to this on Thursday night. What about you?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai Terror: Letters : #2

Continuing my series...

Dear soldiers:
[Mumbai Police, ATS, NSG, MARCOS, whoever else was involved]

It fills me with pride that people just like me are so brave as to not fear facing death in the line of duty. I really do NOT have the words to thank you properly. If any of you are in Paris sometime, send me an email [animesh @ gmail] and I would be extremely happy to buy you lunch. Its the least I can do.

At the same time, it feels me with great sorrow that the casualties on our side could have been reduced, and the mission could have gone more smoothly, if you were given better equipment, whether it be body armor [e.g., Mr. Karkare, who was shot through his 1990's vintage armor], or better weapons [one could see non-automatic rifles and pistols], or better IT equipment [PDAs with hotel schematics anyone?], or better training on how to handle multistorey-building situations.

We, the people of India, through our elected representatives, have let you down. And I am extremely sorry for that. That said, there were incidents of citizen help, and we would all like to take that as an example.

Finally, thanks a lot for making it clear to the public that at the the time of need, it is the regionless, religionless armed forces that come to our rescue, not the so-called "leaders" who only know how to divide us for their personal gains.

Jai Hind.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Terror: Letters : #1

I think over the next few days, I will be writing open letters to various people regarding what I feel about the recent terror attacks.

Let's begin small.

Dear Terrorists:

no, seriously,



[perhaps better expressed here]

Friday, November 28, 2008

#Mumbai: Some Thoughts

Yes, you all know how the last 50+ hours were, and that stuff is still going on.

I am still under shock, and therefore might be incoherent, not unlike Grover.

However, here is something I will say, for now [a comment I wrote here]. More later.


I do believe that with this mass-murder, the terrorists have crossed a line:
1. This was televised live for a looong time. Enough to make all Indians feel the pinch.
2. A wide range of people were killed, from the Greek shipping mogul to the poor laborer who had missed his train at VT. I myself am only 2 hops away from someone who died. Again, something to make all Indians feel the pinch.
3. The attacked Americans, Britons, and Israelis: wrong move. I sincerely hope this leads to a)pressure from these countries on Pakistan to hand over those responsible [and perhaps support to India if we choose hot pursuit], and more importantly, b)cooperation in forensic investigation with the overworked and underpaid Indian police so they do not end up with the usually shoddy job that they do after each attack and then try to cover up their mistakes with fake encounters etc.

I like the 2 year mandatory military training idea. In fact, I would like it better if the [increased in strength] army was then responsible for running schools and other social projects where they were posted. A roundabout way to get “teach for america” running in India, but just might work.

Of course, our collective reactions over the next few weeks will determine whether we have learnt our lessons and will start demanding performance from our politicians, or keep up with our usual chalta-hai attitude and deserve another attack.

Yes, I said ‘deserve’. I am mad, at us :-| .


So, what is the silver lining? I believe that this is the right opportunity for a leader to rise (not a shackled one, not one with blood on his record, not the usual populist ones).

Lesson to learn: do NOT trust politicians, not in their current forms. Demand concrete plans for them. Not vague statements ["we will take care of it"], and not knee-jerk ill-thought grandstanding ["we will bring back POTA/TADA and kill all terrorists"].

Demand them to tell us what specifically they will do, and how exactly it is different from the state of the art.

Hoping that this shocking incident jolts us public to start behaving like reviewers of top journals,


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I did Last Saturday

[as I write this post, sad news came. But I promised myself that we need cheer in this dark time, so here goes.]

It all started in June, when JD and I were debating on how best to say "yeah, right!" in French. We did a google search that resulted in this page. I liked what I heard, joined their facebook group, and they added me as friends! [am honored :)]

Well, one thing led to another, and I landed at the bastille day picnic.

And last saturday [as some of you so desperately wanted to know :)], finally, I was honored to be a part of the future, by way of recording a podcast with the great Katia and Kyliemac! It is k&k episode 196 - the one where they learn about temples of sex and that america is NOT fraught with debauchery... and stuff.... :).

The MP3 is here, and you can stream it directly from the gadget below.

Thanks for the opportunity K&K!

So, what do you say, dear readers/listeners?

Now You See Me ...

... now you don't!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holy Photosynthesizing Animals Batman!

In these tough days, food items are getting costly, as Fned also noticed recently.

Ever wonder what will be the most extreme ways to cut food costs? Well, worry no more, for a humble sea slug has shown us the way, by adding algal DNA to its own to convert itself to a mean-green slow-moving photon-processing machine!

The new scientist article is here, and the video is here [must watch!].

From the article (all emphasis mine):
[The researcher] has known for some time that E. chlorotica acquires chloroplasts - the green cellular objects that allow plant cells to convert sunlight into energy - from the algae it eats, and stores them in the cells that line its gut.

Young E. chlorotica fed with algae for two weeks, could survive for the rest of their year-long lives without eating, Rumpho found in earlier work.

But a mystery remained. Chloroplasts only contain enough DNA to encode about 10% of the proteins needed to keep themselves running. The other necessary genes are found in the algae's nuclear DNA.


In their latest experiments, Rumpho and colleagues sequenced the chloroplast genes of Vaucheria litorea, the alga that is the sea slug's favourite snack. They confirmed that if the sea slug used the algal chloroplasts alone, it would not have all the genes needed to photosynthesise.

They then turned their attention to the sea slug's own DNA and found one of the vital algal genes was present. Its sequence was identical to the algal version, indicating that the slug had probably stolen the gene from its food.

"We do not know how this is possible and can only postulate on it," says Rumpho, who says that the phenomenon of stealing is known as kleptoplasty.

One possibility is that, as the algae are processed in the sea slug's gut, the gene is taken into its cells as along with the chloroplasts. The genes are then incorporated into the sea slug's own DNA, allowing the animal to produce the necessary proteins for the stolen chloroplasts to continue working.

Another explanation is that a virus found in the sea slug carries the DNA from the algal cells to the sea slug's cells. However, Rumpho says her team does not have any evidence for this yet.

In another surprising development, the researchers found the algal gene in E. chlorotica's sex cells, meaning the ability to maintain functional chloroplasts could be passed to the next generation.

If you didn't click the previous link to see it, now is your time to watch the video.

Sadly, all Chloroplast and DNA is digested to mush in our stomachs, so don't go looking for algae yet :).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Looking into the Future

This weekend, I had two [three?] futuristic experiences.

Firstly, on Saturday morning, I played a game in the musée des arts et metiers known as "the secrets of the museum". Each participant was given a cellphone which could read and write on RFID tags, which had been attached to certain articles in the museum, including a model of the statue of liberty!

The game began with each participant having 4 images in their cellphones. Our job was to gain as many points as possible by

  1. "putting the item back where it belonged" by going to object in the museum [using the map they gave us] and waving your phone next to the tag attached to the object. Funny thing, when you did that, the tag talked back to your phone, adding a new item to your phone. So then you had to go and put that back, and get more points :).

  2. "answering simple quiz questions about the object that one just put back". Upon being put back, the object asked you a multiple choice question, which you could answer to gain points :).

  3. "collecting 4 objects of the same color in your phone before putting them all back". The 16 objects that were involved in the game were divided into four "colors", and if at any time your cellphone contained 4 objects of the same color, you got extra points. Kinda reminded me of the LEO "jackpot" game which I loved as a kid.

  4. "by exchanging objects with fellow gamers". To help in objective 3 above, you could also exchange objects with another person by putting your cellphones close to each other. So I was occasionally seen stopping people and asking "hey, you got a green object? I can give you a yellow one in return."

The game was cool, and we passed an hour without feeling it. The museum is also very nice, and I will surely visit it again. Pictures of the event are here and here. The ones containing me start at this place [pic 35 of 64]. Huge thanks to F for being my teammate [you can see her in the pics].

Of course, the game above was part of an experiment in pervasive computing, and I look forward to meeting the researchers again. I believe that technology has a lot of potential for making education interesting for kids, kinda like this experiment of teaching English to village kids using radio.

The second "futuristic" thing that I did on Saturday, which is something I had never done before, is something I won't talk about quite yet :P.

The third thing was to read this post on A's blog on the focus of Japanese auto-makers on research to make cars of tomorrow, and not cutting R&D funds even in the recession of today. Also, see the second video there where they interview the CEO of their airlines, JAL.

That's it for now, will be posting details about item 2 above in some time ;).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Links: Good, Hopeful, Pretty, and Crazy

Am busy with a proposal [to a funding agency, you-who-thought-otherwise!], so just posting some interesting links I came across today:

1. Good news: 64% of Kashmiris said, lets vote now to get better living conditions, worry about separation later.

2. Resilience news: Bihar flood victims finding ways to improve their lives using software, bamboos, and banana-trunks! [and yes, “Mobile inspectors” with GPRS-enabled phones have been deployed by the State Disaster Management Cell to travel incognito to these camps and take photographs of their conditions. -- right up my research alley!]

3. Science wackiness: particles that can mix and un-mix water and oil by remote UV-light control.

4. Nature cuteness: A gallery of rain-forest snaps, to remind you that a football-field-sized portion of them are disappearing every SECOND! [my fav. snap - this one]

5. and finally, Japanese gadget craziness: the face-bank!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On the Moon!

I am happy today. Yes, I need to work on the weekend on a grant proposal, but the Indian tricolor is on the Moon now! [thanks for the news PK]

In spite of all the craziness going on in India, news such as these give us hope, an important and required trait in these times

Also, from PK, is a nice piece to remind us on the national anthem.

It is a nice coincidence that the flag-landing happened on Children's Day, and I give you these videos to further celebrate :).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Good News on Children's Day

Today, November 14, is celebrated in India as Children's Day. I wish I was there today, and contribute in a more concrete manner, but the least I can do is point you to some good work being done on the occasion.

Here, from the latest addition to my google reader, is a post about how kids in Karnataka are being introduced to ideas of responsible self-government.

Read the post, you won't regret it.

P.S. Another good news is that one of my good friends is pregnant :). Yay for you-who-sent-me-her-pot-bellied-pic-yesterday :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good News - True and Fake

To start off this post on a problem-solving note [inspired by the discussion on this mutiny post, I guess], I point you to a new website that aims to highlight the positive actions being taken in India right now. Behold, The Better India. [ref: Abi]

Their aim:
The Better India is an attempt to bring out the happy stories, the unsung heroes and heroines, the small good deeds happening across India and showcase them to the world. Over here, you will be able to read about the incremental progress being [made] by the industrious people of this country, the developments happening on the social and economic front.

This is a great initiative. Please visit their website, and add it to your list of feeds etc.

Moving on, some Americans were shocked to note on Dec 12 that the war in Iraq was over. The reason -- a special edition of the New York Times. [ref: Abi again :)]. The video below shows is their press-release.

New York Times Special Edition Video News Release - Nov. 12, 2008 from H Schweppes on Vimeo.

That's it for now. I will focus on the crazy news later, tomorrow perhaps :).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why we Fight - Blame it on the Genes

After having lively discussions on posts such as this one, and talking about solutions in the discussion here [see the end of the comments there], it was interesting to see an article on New Scientist today talking about the very reason for war.

They first start by asking:
IT'S a question at the heart of what it is to be human: why do we go to war? The cost to human society is enormous, yet for all our intellectual development, we continue to wage war well into the 21st century.

and then claim that:
"Warfare has been with us for at least several tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years." He thinks it was already there in the common ancestor we share with chimps. "It has been a significant selection pressure on the human species," he says. In fact several fossils of early humans have wounds consistent with warfare.

And there are interesting behavioral differences between males and females in this, as they found out:
For example, male undergraduates were more willing than women to contribute money towards a group effort - but only when competing against rival universities. If told instead that the experiment was to test their individual responses to group cooperation, men coughed up less cash than women did. In other words, men's cooperative behaviour only emerged in the context of intergroup competition (Psychological Science, vol 18, p 19).

and then, there is the hormone angle:
He found that cricket players on the Caribbean island of Dominica experience a testosterone surge after winning against another village. But this hormonal surge, and presumably the dominant behaviour it prompts, was absent when the men beat a team from their own village, Flinn told the conference. "You're sort of sending the signal that it's play. You're not asserting dominance over them," he says. Similarly, the testosterone surge a man often has in the presence of a potential mate is muted if the woman is in a relationship with his friend. Again, the effect is to reduce competition within the group, says Flinn. "We really are different from chimpanzees in our relative amount of respect for other males' mating relationships."

Hmm, reminds me of why I feel nice playing TF2 :).

Here's to a more [improbably, but hopefully] peaceful future.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fighting Terror with Truth

Coming close on the heels of the anti-terror fatwa that was signed by 6000+ Indian Muslim clerics, reports are coming from officials within Delhi Police that "plans are being drawn up to impart education about Islam to young Muslims with the help of clerics from neutral Muslim organisations". From the ToI article:
This will address those who are vulnerable to get manipulated into terror in the name of religion. "Except Atif Bashir, who was killed in the Jamia Nagar encounter, all the Indian Mujahideen men arrested in connection with the Delhi blasts are products of public schools and not madarsas. They haven't been subjected to communal discrimination. However, on questioning them we realised they have no knowledge of the Quran. Hence, they were manipulated by Atif. He told them things like Jehad means a war against non-muslims and anyone who fights for Jehad becomes a hero,'' said the official.

Good move sirs, it is time the moderates in India stood up to state that acts of terrorism do not belong in any religion, and only by popularizing the moderate views of one's religion among one's youth can we bring peace.

One suggestion: can we have a "what is my religion about, and how it promotes co-existence" show-and-tell session in our schools? In this day and age, it will be a nice way for kids to know about their classmate's religions, and also about their own!

Ms. Shabana Azmi, I would really love to see your step up and join your voices with these moderate clerics, now that the media has given attention to the moderate factions of Islam, as you had asked for. This will be a good time to make your voice heard. How about recording some PSAs?

Anyone knows of a similar move to teach civility to our Hindu brethren of the ABVP, who believe in spitting at people they disagree with?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thoughts on the Anti-Terror Fatwa

As you might know, the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, a conference attended by thousands of Muslim clerics, scholars and community leaders in India has endorsed a religious ruling against terrorism. BBC coverage here.

The Jamiat explained that "jihad is a constructive phenomenon and a fundamental right of human beings whereas terrorism is based on destruction. It is required to define 'jihad' and 'terrorism' in the right perspective, which stand poles apart. Terrorism is the biggest crime as per Quran," the resolution said.

However, there is more to it than the basic news, which I must say, is a good thing which I can tell my right-wing Hindu nationalist friends who believe that all muslims are non-progressive and violent. Previously, I have covered fatwas against terror, and against cow-slaughter.

The Times of India had an article about how some Muslims are not quite supportive of the fatwa, on the grounds of "but of course Islam does not condone terrorism. Why should we have to state it?". In my opinion, while their assertion about Islam is true, they must acknowledge that there is a strong smear campaign going on claiming otherwise. This fatwa will go a long way in quelling the fears of the less-informed, as well as perhaps against those extremist clerics who are trying to influence at-risk youth to take the violent path and are using religion as a justification.

On a different note, there were also resolutions asking for 10% reservations for Muslims and asked that "Muslims and Christian Dalits should be treated on a par with other Dalits by amending Article 341 of the Constitution".

My take on this is similar to my take on the Maharashtra CM stating that Muslims will be given preferences in Police Jobs in the state in addition to asking them to "learn Marathi as it is the state language and also been used for the Government jobs".

Dear Sirs, while you are making such progressive statements denouncing the heinous acts of terrorism and asking people to learn a language that can help them secure more jobs, please do not mix your message with the populist call for community-based reservations. Instead, how about openly saying that you are "not" for reservation for your [or any] community, but for aid [perhaps even a time-bound reservation plan] based on economic status?

Progressive fatwas like this make us go forward, but community-based reservations threaten to further aggravate people and threaten to take us back. Please think about this before including it in your resolutions.


On a slightly different note, I bought DVDs of Dor, A Wednesday, and Mumbai Meri Jaan yesterday (in addition to my usual mutton biryani and half-kilo imarti). Planning to watch them in the coming weeks :).

Friday, November 07, 2008

The FUD of Hinduism

From the wikipedia article on FUD.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic of rhetoric and fallacy used in sales, marketing, public relations and politics. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative (and vague) information.

Recently, I, like many of you I guess, received a PDF titled "The Death of Hinduism", which in my opinion was a classic FUD piece that used misrepresentation and cherry-picking of facts to stir up paranoi among Indian Hindus that the Christians were converting everyone away from the right path, and therefore destroying the country. Those who want to spend time reading extreme-right wing paranoid propaganda can click this link, though I do not recommend it as a proper use of your time.

I have had many discussions on this with people, and perhaps will post something on it later [haven't had time to package my outrage properly], but Bharathwaj wrote a wonderful piece on this today. From the post:
I had just sent that person a small email with the following message.

"I dunno who you are and how you got my email Id. But I totally condemn this email. I m a born Hindu and I follow dharma. Whether people get converted or not, or whether the politicans support or not, its finally we who should take care of ourselves. I m living out of the country and I follow Indian tradition and values. I cant go and ask another fellow Indian why he/she is not following it. It just depends on themselves. I can find a lot of extremism in the attachment. Hinduism is all about acceptance and tolerance. That's where we tell "Hindusim is a way of living".

And for all those who doubt his credentials, note that he was the grad student who _did_ the pooja [yes, he, not the panditji from the temple] at the Hindu Students' Organization's Diwali function when I was at USC.

Swami, I'm proud of you! Keep it up!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gay? Fine by HC

In pretty much the only good piece of news I read today, the Delhi High Court has asked the VHP, which opposes gays, to substantiate their claim that "gay sex causes bodily injury". From the article:
Senior Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leader B.P. Singhal, representing the VHP, was pulled up by the division bench headed by Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar who were hearing a petition filed by Naz foundation to decriminalize gay sex among consenting adults, considered an offence at present.

"In several countries where the ban has been lifted (from gay sex), no one has claimed that the act is injurious. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not say that it causes injuries to people involved in such acts," the bench said.

Maybe Mr. Singhal is talking about gay-rape causing injury, but is ashamed to admit it. It is high time Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which "provides punishment up to life imprisonment for indulging in gay sex" was repealed.

While the cause of gay rights progressed just a bit in India, it suffered a setback in California, with Proposition 8 succeeding, which seeks to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision allowing same-sex marriage.

The shocker, a majority [ref: B] of the african american and latinos voted to deny this right to the gays. From another article article:
Exit poll data showed seven in 10 black voters and more than half of Latino voters backed the ballot initiative, while whites and Asians were split.

Though blacks and Latinos combined make up less than one-third of California's electorate, their opposition to same-sex marriage appeared to tip the balance. Both groups decisively backed Obama regardless of their position on the initiative.

Obama has said he is not in favor of gay marriage but supports civil unions. The president-elect opposed Proposition 8.

Apparently, religious beliefs make you forget that you yourself were/are discriminated against. In case you missed this, watch this daily show video again.

Change has come to American, but a lot still needs to be done.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Analyzing the Terrorist Vote, and Post Election Fears

Although I watched NBC's election coverage for the speeches from 4am today, and listened to NPR for the analysis, I would have loved it if comedy central has free live access to its Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert election night special.

Well, it is online now [full episode link], and I present some gems from it for you.

Aasif Mandvi on the Terrorist Vote:

The BEST moment in the evening's program [I love how Jon Stewart is feeling, and how the coal-bear is trying to hide it :)]:

And yes, now that it is all over, I know now what to do. Kinda like this:

and this: [ref: ]


Apparently, We Can

[no words]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Chuck and Larry, and Mac and Barry

With the elections in the USA going on, here are some pre-election videos from JS and the Coal-bear.

First, the debate on gay marriage:

Then, the campaign awards:

and finally, in case you haven't, GO VOTE!

Monday, November 03, 2008

D-day minus 1

[update: For a quick summary, listen to NPR's It's all Politics for Oct 30. Also, NPR's Political Junkie Ken Rudin gives it to Obama.]

Tomorrow, Nov 4., 2008, will be a red-letter day [or a blue-letter one, depending on who wins :)].

Not a lot to post today, since the pics and videos from the Salon du Chocolat and the Diwali function at maison de l'inde from yesterday are still in my camera. However, I am sure there will be a lot of buzz tomorrow and wednesday, once the results, and the voter-fraud lawsuits, are announced.

Where will I get my news from? Why NPR of course, loads of info, no BS. Sadly, I won't be going to any of the several bars in Paris which will have live election coverage tomorrow night.

All said and done, I do believe that no matter who wins, the US foreign policy of hypocrisy in trade and fake-belief in free markets [allow US farmers to sell their corn in India without restrictions, but please pay duties when you want to sell Indian Sugarcane in the US] will continue. However, I do feel [hope?] that Obama will bring a more pragmatic approach to the internal policies, esp civil liberties and the such.

In any case, it will be interesting to see how the next 4 years go.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

2 Reasons why Jon Stewart should host the Evening News

The first is that he spends the time and money to send the wonderfully witty John Oliver for this piece on "community organizers", which, frankly, should have been done by _all_ news channels right after the Republican Convention!

and the second is that he has the guts to laugh at the face of Bill Cristol for his pathetic attempt of explaining why McCain's campaign is doing what it is doing:

Seriously, give him a slot on National Broadcast TV! I am sure the daily show election coverage next tuesday will be more entertaining that any other, and almost as informative as the NPR one :).

In other news, I found S linking to this list of infrequently asked questions by Don Knuth. Great read, esp the quote at the very end.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quiz : What is this song about?

First of all, I love Dhingana, for their flash-based audio, and embeddable player :).

So, here is your task: Listen to the "maa da laadla" song in the list below:

and tell me in the comments, what do you think this song is about? How exactly did the "maa da laadla" [mother's boy] get crooked? This peppy song is definitely worth a second listen, trust me :). Also, the other songs are also pretty cool.

For those who give up, I recommend looking at the comments of the post, or watching the video [ref:satarkB]. Also, I never thought I'd say this about her, but Pinky Chops looks HOT in the swimsuit in that video :) [and so does John A, to be perfectly honest :)].

Hint: I got a T-shirt abt it, one of my most fav. ones :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On Women's "health" and some melodious music

There is a lot to talk about, as there is a lot wrong with the world [and my motherland] today, ranging from non-adequately overseen, underpaid, and under-pressure cops 'catching' 'terrorists' of all backgrounds, people from state A trying to push out workers from state B, who then for some reason are going back to their own state and destroying the public property there! And of course, the whole hindus-kill-christians-because-they-cause-conversions issue. Sure seems like the elections are approaching in the one-billion+ human-filled smorgasbord we call India/Bharat/Hindustan.

But I will talk about all that some other day [perhaps when the sh*t really hits the fan -- the ceiling in the room of Indian craziness it as high as its population density]. I will use the limited time I have today to give you a video about the election that is only 7[6?] days away, and some music to soothe you while you grapple with the death and insanity going on right now.

First, Jon Stewart of the "Daily" Show talks about McCain's use of "air quotes":

I LOVE Sam Bee!!
[aside: How many of you know what I am referring to you when I say "laser"? :)]

And moving on, here is my pick of playlist today from dhingana.

Here's to peace.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everywhere, the Lights!

back in the late 80s and early 90s, every year, this morning, a family would soak a bunch of diyas in a bucket of water, and go to buy sweets [sugar candy shaped like gods and godesses] and rice crispies [moori] from an old lady sitting next to a watch shop. And of course, firecrackers, lots of them [including some country-made sutli-bombs]!

The afternoon was spent in making the wicks for the diyas out of cotton, a delicate process -- too thin and it won't burn. Too fluffy and it would burn too fast.

As the sun started to set, father and sons would get atop the roof and start a pipelined process of setting the diyas, filling them with oil, and lighting them, while the mother conjured magic in the kitchen in the form of a ton of delicious foods.

And as the darkness set, this darkest of nights was transformed into a beautiful, lighted festival, which the whole family enjoyed together!

Oh, how I wish to relive those days.

Mom, Dad, Bhai -- Happy Diwali! [and to all you folks missing their loved ones today]

and to my readers, I give the following:

best wishes from me, wearing a Kurta in my office in Paris, while bhai is on a trek near Atlanta, and Mom and Dad are in Patna :-|.

P.S. NPR on Diwali in India, and in USA.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More on Desi Libertarianism

Abi has linked to my post on the Jago party, and has given his comments on it. Judging by the "hoax" tag he gave the article, I think he doesn't think too greatly of them. Go there and read the comments too -- he gets some pretty smart readers [not to say that you aren't :)].

Also, thanks to all those who posted on my last post on this.

Some answers from my side to the points you raised:
Regarding _association_ : I would _not_ want to be associated with people who are not well-thought out. And _joining_ a party does not mean I get to drive their agenda, which takes a lot more time than I currently have [I have other places whose agenda I can help guide :)]

Regarding Death Sentence for Crimes: My stance on the death sentence has been mellowed of late, esp given the large number of death-row prisoners who have been found not guilty by DNA evidence recently in the USA. So, until we get a foolproof way of determining if someone indeed did a heinous crime [time machine anyone?] I'd let the judges decide which cases are the "rarest of the rare" where it is needed. The stance of the party on that topic is definitely näive in my opinion.

Regarding multi-party: In my opinion, a multi-party system is the ONLY one where each voter has the possibility of finding _exactly_ what he stands for. A 2-party system simply cannot handle this, since people are not one-dimensional. E.g., in America, who do I vote for if I hate abortion but support gay marriage? In a multi-party system, there are no limitations for a party to be created to support exactly that mix of stances. Of course, we are assuming that the people running these parties actually _believe_ in what they stand for, as opposed to changing stances according to the wind -- but that can happen in any-party system.

Regarding Cautious Aggression: Well put Anshul. my sentiments exactly.

Regarding "pure" libertarianism: Reminds me of the post on no libertarians in a financial crisis. In my opinion, libertarianism _is_ a "pure" philosophie, in that it is based on a very strong belief on let-me-alone. Anyone claiming to be a "soft" libertarian is not one, IMO.

Regarding reducing birth rate by providing education and career opportunities to women: Interesting idea, and I hope it is true, but in the absence of a citation, I call BS.

So, what did I decide regarding Jago party? I won't join it officially right now, but will keep a close eye on the developments. Lets see what happens in the near future.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And the Gaffy goes to ...

'tis the final stretch in the US presidential elections, and tensions are high. Prime time for slips-of-tongue, boo-boos, or as the official term goes -- Gaffes!

Watch the following video.. right till the end :)... amazing stuff!

On slightly more formal side, Brian Williams got to interview McCain and Palin


I wish Mr. Williams had some more cross questioning ["so, anyone who thinks he is better than others is an Elite? How abt McCain, who thinks he is better than anyone to be president now?"] and tried a bit harder to keep them on point ["please Ms. Palin, give me one 'precondition' you would place before a dictator before talking to them"].

Brian Williams' opinion of the interview here and here.

Also, it is just me, of does hearing Palin speak with her superlative use of conjunctions [and also but] make you also want you gouge your eyes out?

Finally, guess who else thinks that unregulated free markets were a bad idea.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crossing Borders: Horizontal, Vertical, and Cricketical

Three pieces of news hit me today, each of them making me more proud than the other. it is nice to see India crossing three different boundaries:

1. Cricketical: We defeated the leading test-playing nation in the world by a huge margin of runs! Take that, aussies!

2. Vertical: Chandrayaan 1 [NOT Chandraaaayan, as the crazy news people have been saying] ( chandra=moon, yaan=craft) lifted off to the moon! Hurrah for the team behing it! [brochure, photo gallery, report]

3. Horizontal: Perhaps the biggest news for me was trade routes have opened across the LoC between the India and Pakistan controlled regions of Kashmir. Two reasons - firstly, trade is always good for the people of the reason, who are by now tired with all the death and destruction; and second, this will hopefully make people think about making the LoC the international border and end this thing once and for all! After all, why pay customs duty across a line if it isn't an international border ;-)?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To Jago or not to Jago?

A few weeks ago I was told my a friend of mine about the TATA Tea Jaago Campaign, which is a pretty interesting ad campaign. And if a tea-company manages to sell some tea while getting a ton of Indians registered to vote, I have no issues with it :).

While googling for Jago, I ended up on the website of Jago Party, a new indian political party whose mission is "to make India a very safe, strong and rich country, [...] using and strengthening democratic institutions. "

Some interesting salient features they mention are

1. Reservation for none, job for everyone through free English education -- Reservation is against the principle of equality and it is a punishment to the merit. Hence Jago Party will abolish all reservations.

2. Hang terrorists, murderers, rapists & corrupts; Judgments in 3 months – In order to reduce crime, mandatory death sentence would be given to terrorists, murderers, rapists and corrupts. Police will be given adequate powers, equipments and staff to meet their challenges. [they did say they would have oversight - AP]

3. All voters will get Rs 600 p.m. in lieu of subsidies, which will be cancelled.

4. 24 hrs electricity & comfortable train journey through privatization; less government activities & more private enterprises, including roads, water, schools, universities, hospitals, ports etc, and most of the Public Sector Undertakings would also be privatized.

5. No Income Tax up to Rs 4 lakh; Reduction in the number and rates of taxes.

All the above are interesting points, but the scary part for me was the "super free private market" part. So, I sent them an email, and Mr. Awadhesh Kumar Singh was kind to respond, and indeed hold a conversation over email on my queries.

I had specifically asked him about his views on the "free market" and what he thought caused the current meltdown in the US economy, and here is what he had to say:
The cause of the present crash in US economy is bad lending practices out of greed to earn risky profit by some of the biggest financial institutions.
Obviously, when we support free market economy, we do not rule out the possibility of some private companies making bad policy decisions. But free market economy has inherent institutional mechanism to punish such companies.

When a company is small, its mistakes are also small and it can be ignored. But in the present scenario, very, very huge companies are becoming bankrupt having trillions of dollars worth assets. Obviously, no democratic government can allow such companies to collapse, because it can have disastrous effects on the entire economy. Hence, the US federal govt is justified in saving these companies and ushering in sound management practices. Once they stabilize, they would be handed over again to the private companies. This is a kind of security and safety net being provided by the govts across the world to safeguard the interest of consumers like insurance policy holders, borrowers etc just like old age pension or medicare. Hence, it is fully justified.

To prevent such crisis in future, govt is also justified in putting in place proper regulatory mechanism for financial institutions to safeguard the interest of consumers. Our support of free market economy also is subject to such regulatory mechanisms.

Their FAQ is pretty detailed, and they are also doing some other interesting stuff - see their RTI page for example. Also, I appreciate their stance on personal freedom.

Recently, I got an email from them asking to join them as a member and pay a small membership fee. I would surely like to help out people who want to help out the country with new ideas [given how fed up I am with the powers-that-be], but with previous attempts at this by people who didn't know what they were getting into(post1, post2), I am not so sure yet, and need your PoVs.

The money is the not the big part, but association surely is. So, what do you say? Maybe I should just do this for now?

P.S. Do you think they are the desi libertarian party? Given they are OK with govt. regulations, it sure seems they aren't.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Funny Side of Politics

Starting off, thanks to L, here are some videos of McCain and Obama cracking jokes :)



And moving on, of course, debate analysis by JS:

and the press's love for Joe the plumber:

and my fav part -- the "undecided" voters!

and here is the Coal-bear's debate coverage:

And finally, The Coal-bear is a national treasure now!!!! congrats!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the winner of the 3rd Debate is ...

... Bob Schieffer !

Yes, given that I stayed up from 3am to 4:30am today watching the debate, and given that it was inforamative _only_ due to the moderator, Bob Schieffer, who started the debate with these amazing lines:

"I will encourage them to ask follow-up questions to each other. If they do not, I will."

and then followed it with

"By now we have heard aaallll the talking points, so lets try to tell the people tonight some things that they haven't heard."

And with those statements, he managed to do what no other moderator did in the past three debates -- actually get the candidates to talk to "each other" and directly address the points.

Of course, it was not 100% straight talk, but waaaay more informative and "debative" and the other debates.

So for this great performance Mr. Schieffer, I think you clearly deserve the gold medal.

As far as the candidates are concerned, I think noone clearly won this, but I certainly got to know more about the candidates' differences in views through the debate, and thus feel that the debate served it purpose :).

Full video at NBC and at YouTube [thx L], Full audio at NPR.

NPR's fact checking, and info about who Joe the Plumber is. Also super detailed fact check.

If you want a good audio analysis, this NPR post might be for you.

And, as a bonus, I give you this interview of Bob Schieffer:

And if you still haven't seen the documentary I talked about yesterday, go watch it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All X's are Y [and therefore a burden on society]

Let me begin by saying that
- all Biharis are corrupt
- all Indians are backward arranged-marrying idol-worshippers
- all Americans are burger eating fat people
- all Black people are stupid
- all Muslims are violent people, perhaps terrorists
- all Italians are mafia members
- all girls are stupid in math
- all white people lack family values
- all bloggers are shallow

Of course, I could go on and on about these "truths" and I am sure that all of you have heard/read/felt one of the above one time or the other.

As far as I know, these are called stereotypes. They cannot be proven from first principles, but if you assume that they are true, you can find examples to support your claim [Lalu is corrupt, my neighborhood Bihari IAS officer is corrupt, ergo, all Biharis are corrupt], and all counter-examples can be seen as mere "exceptions".

But you see, we can all talk and preach about these, but do we _really understand_ what being discriminated against feels like? Do we understand how _utterly arbitrary_ the criterion is which is used to determine if people of a certain race/religion/region/sex are inferior or superior?

I thought I did. And then I saw this:

From the article [ref: this post from a new blogger, who happens to be a great friend]

On any normal weekday morning, Jane Elliott looked forward to getting to her classroom at the Riceville, Iowa, Community Elementary School and to the teaching job she loved.


But that Friday in April, 1968, was not a normal morning. The day before, Martin Luther King had been murdered in Memphis. For Jane, that had suddenly made a lot of things different. She had made a decision about what she would do in her class, a decision that now made her reluctant to leave the house for school.


Then, suddenly, on the night of the day that Martin Luther King was murdered, all of these memories and experiences had coalesced into an idea of how she might give her third-graders a sense of what prejudice and discrimination really meant.

Jane took a deep breath and plunged in. "I don't think we really know what it would be like to be a black child, do you?" she asked her class. "I mean it would be hard to know, really, unless we actually experienced discrimination ourselves, wouldn't it?" Without real interest, the class agreed. "Well, would you like to find out?"

The children's puzzlement was plain on their faces until she spelled out what she meant. "Suppose we divided the class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed people," she said. "Suppose that for the rest of today the blue-eyed people became the inferior group. Then, on Monday, we could reverse it so that the brown-eyed children were inferior. Wouldn't that give us a better understanding of what discrimination means?"

Now there was enthusiasm in their response. To some, it may have meant escape from the ordinary routine of a school day. To others, it undoubtedly sounded like a game. "Would you like to try that?" Jane asked. There was an immediate chorus of assent.

I don't think words can do justice to the experience of watching the documentary.

If you have any respect of my opinions that I share on this blog, if you believe that any part of what I say is "interesting", I urge you to watch the whole documentary. If you don't have too much time, just watch the first chapter -- its only 10 minutes.

Being from an upper-middle-class family of the upper caste of the religious majority of a country whose national language is the same as my mother tongue, I had longed to be able to feel what the 'other side' feels, and this piece surely does the trick.


And if you are living under the delusion that stereotypes are a thing of the past in the USA or elsewhere, maybe this will remind you of where we are today.

See, Obama is a family man citizen, ergo, not an Arab.

Seriously, go watch the documentary. At least a part, to get yourself hooked :).

Extra: Wikipedia page on the doc.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hey America, Welcome to Socialism

We live in a weird world, where the "communist" country pushes shady practices in its industries, and the "free market" country BUYS UP PART OF 9 TOP BANKS. [ref: huffpost]

Yes, you heard it right -- the president who wants to make America like France is not Obama, it is our dear old "W".

From the article:
In pressing the bank executives to accept partial government ownership, Paulson's message was clear: Though officially the program was voluntary, the banks had little choice in the matter. In exchange for giving the Treasury minority stakes, the nine firms would jointly receive an investment worth $125 billion. The government would make another $125 billion available for the next 30 days to thousands of other banks and thrifts across the country.

Federal officials set conditions, telling the banks they could not raise their dividends without government permission and could not offer their executives new retirement packages, though the old packages would remain intact.

Paulson told them the moves would shore up confidence in their own institutions, spark lending throughout the system and send a message to smaller institutions that there is no stigma in accepting federal funding. Though some were reluctant, all of the executives complied.

And of course, some unpatriotic americans are appreciating this socialistic move and actually feeling good, thus improving the DOW index. How shameful!

The DSwithJS report is below:

and some advice by Wyatt:

And here is the coal bear, promoting a salt-based economy :)

But seriously, all those of you who believe that giving rich people tax breaks will lead to wealth "trickling down" and regulations are a bad thing -- you either START PROTESTING AGAINST THE SOCIALIST GOVT IN USA, or SHUT THE F**K UP FROM NOW ON!!

Seriously, I respect the GOP guys who chose to follow their ideals of free market and want to complete the experiment that started 8 years ago -- I might not agree with them but they atleast have the cajones to face the consequences. Those who wanted "free market without regulations" and now want "economic help from the govt" can get lost!


On a different note, this bittersweet segment from NPR reminded me of one more thing that is common between people of India and Pakistan -- arranged marriages.


And on a more certain note, my India trip is confirmed! Landing in Delhi on Dec 13, leaving on Jan 10 [or so my tickets say :)]. Details to follow. Would love to meet you this time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

F**K Me, I have a PhD!

A female friend of mine [who shall remain unnamed and uninitialed ;)] send me this article from New Scientist yesterday about the correlation between intelligence and sperm quality [emph mine]:

according to new research ... apparently a man's sperm quality turns out to be a decent indicator of his brain power.

Men who scored high on a battery of intelligence tests boasted high counts of healthy sperm, while low scorers tended to have fewer and more sickly little guys.

This suggests that intelligence might tip off a man's overall health to women looking for a mate with healthy genes, explained University of New Mexico evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller at a recent Harvard University talk.

"It's not necessarily that the same genes are influencing sperm quality and intelligence," he said. Rather, the two traits could be linked through a tangled web of biological and environmental interactions that has evolved to help women pick a mate.

Miller and his colleagues uncovered the apparent sperm-intelligence connection after reanalysing data gathered in 1985 to assess the after-effects of the Vietnam War, particularly exposures to Agent Orange. Of the 4,402 veterans who participated in three days of physical and mental testing, 425 provided sperm samples.

After accounting for factors that could skew the results, such as age, drug use, and abstinence before providing a sample, Miller's team looked for a statistical link between men's sperm counts and motility and their scores on several tests of verbal and arithmetic intelligence.

Though the connections between brains and sperm were "not awesome, they're there and highly significant," Miller said. All things held equal, good sperm and good brains go together.

More interesting papers on this topic can be found on his official webpage. I think his lap-dancers-get-more-tips-when-ovulating paper got the IgNoble prize this year also.

My take on this? I agree that there might be no direct link between intelligence [lets call it I ] and sperm quality [ S ]. The way I see it, men can be divided in 4 types:

  1. High I and High S

  2. High I and Low S

  3. Low I and High S

  4. Low I and Low S

Of course, in a "natural" world, Individuals with low S will be weeded out by their competitors, therefore leaving individuals of types 1 and 3 in the population with high probability.

In a society of a species which is rapidly developing by replacing natural defenses [fur] with "intelligently made ones" [fur coats], it would have been obviously favorable for females to choose type 1 males over type 3. Heck, type 1 males may have even fooled type 3 males and slept with their wives!

Assuming all the above is true, it is easy to see how the two qualities become indirectly correlated.

And assuming that getting a PhD is correlated with "intelligence" ... well ... you get the title of this post :).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Big Battle Between Good and Evil

It was so simple in the good old days, things were so black and white [figuratively, as well as cinematically]. The good prince from northern India fought with the evil power-corrupted king of Sri Lanka, and on this day by the lunar calendar, many eons ago, the force of good won over the force of evil.

Yes, Shubh Dussehra/Vijayadashmi to you too!

But nowadays, the battles are more colored. More gray than black and white. Take this one for example [full video, full flash and MP3 audio, and great analysis here]. As always, JS covers it best.

And comments on the body language and the general environment of the debate by the moderator are here.

Of course, the game is far from over, with both candidates taking donations from financial companies, and unwilling to tell the people that the borrowers _are also_ to blame for this, not just the lenders. Hence the grayness.


In other world-is-going-to-hell news, according to the Red List released recently, "at least 25% of the world's mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to the first assessment of their status for a decade".

The BBC has covered it here, New Scientist has maps for this, and pictures of some of the at-risk animals is at this NatGeo page [ref: J]. Yes, the Indian Tarantula is also at risk due to "over-harvesting for the pet trade" according to the BBC.

Add to it the wars in the world, the increasing violence in India, and this segment from the Rama wikipedia article comes to mind.
"The Ramayana speaks of how the Goddess Earth, Bhumidevi, came to the Lord Creator, Brahma begging to be rescued from evil kings who were plundering her resources and destroying life through bloody wars and evil conduct."

I surely think the time has come. The Earth surely is begging for help. Is anyone listening?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Talking about the [other] Debate

Hi there.
Having a good time, maybe want me to talk about how I felt watching the debate this early morning from 3:30am?

Well, I don't f'king feel like talking about it!

Much like JS, who had this amazing coverage of the VP debate -- so I had to post it!

See the entire episode for more amazing clips, including the view from Wasilla, AK.

Also, S sent me this amazing article from Rolling Stone Magazine about what the Palin choice means for America.

The scariest thing about John McCain's running mate isn't how unqualified she is - it's what her candidacy says about America
But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she's the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

This article says so many things that I have been wanting to say, but could't articulate well.

And more on that, from D, is this post on the new "terrorist" charge against Obama.

P.S. Debate analysis tomorrow. Promise.

update: The videos below _had_ to be added, they were so on point:

Six degrees of desperation:

Who _is_ the _swing vote_:

And more on negative advertizing:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I am a BeeriCorn!

What is a Beericorn?

What happens when the guys at Tremendosaur outsource one of their comedy scripts to India?

and How am I involved in this?

Well, see for yourself :) [link to their page]

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Thanks to Jacob and Justin for involving Adarsh, Pathik and me in this project of theirs :).

Disclaimer: There seems to be a confusion. Please note that the scripting, production, direction, editing, all was done by Tremendosaur. Adarsh, Pathik and I just acted [badly] :).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Don't VOTE!

Yeah, don't vote. coz you just don't care, do you?

ref: this google blog post

The video reminded me of Amitabh's scolding video for polio :).

On a related note, it is nice that our desi boys at TATA Tea are having a campaign of their own. Lemme check if I can vote from France too :).