Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't Tase me Sis!

The next time you see a woman on the street who seems to be lost -- you may want to resist the urge to go and offer help. Sure, in the current times, you can get pepper-sprayed by mistake, but how about an electric shock for 30 seconds? and again? and again?

NPR reports on Taser parties being thrown by company reps to peddle these "personal safety devices". Of course, the safety issues are brushed aside.
Shafman addresses the safety issue head-on. "It is not a lethal weapon," she says. "It's never been proven that the Taser causes death."

In fact, the issue is complicated — and far from settled. More than 200 people have died after being hit by Tasers or similar electro-shock weapons. The Justice Department is studying what role Tasers might have had in some deaths.
Police Tasers shock for five seconds. These Tasers deliver an electrical shock for 30 seconds straight. Both can deliver repeated shocks — just press the trigger over and over. Shafman says the idea is to be able to stun a bad guy several times and run away.

So dear ladies, go get your Tasers, but please be careful. With great power comes great responsibliBZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTT!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SNL-Obama :)

SNL had a cute sketch to showcase how some journalists are so obviously enamored by Obama.

Now I am an Obama supporter too, but I like SNL's take on the obsession :).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Who handles the dogs when they are out?

NPR had an interesting post about animal wranglers in hollywood. Check it out here.

From the article:
Forbes was most surprised by the porcupines. He expected them to be really slow — and kind of dumb. Turns out they have a lot of personality.

"They learned to go to a mark," Forbes says, meaning they'd walk to a designated spot and stop. "They'd come up and put their front paws on your legs."

He didn't touch the porcupines much, however.

"We certainly didn't pet them backwards."

Funny how the segment starts with "If you are someone who stays until all the credits of a movie run out...", and indeed, I am one :).

The article also lets out another secret of the trade:
Sometimes there will be three or four identical cats for a single role. There's the Holding Cat, who can stay still. There's the A-to-B cat, who can run from one point to another. There's the Action Cat, who can do the tricks. It all depends on the animal's personality.

I wonder if animals make documentaries of us, and cannot distinguish between two of "those hairless ape creatures" :-).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Peas and Carrots

Came across this cute short. FYI.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar -- go watch it

As some of you know, I was excited about this one, and indeed, when I came to know that the movie is playing less than a mile from where I live, I figured, why not go there and take in some cinematography?

This post, much like my other movie posts, is not really a review -- I am sure there are various others talking abut it [though Grover's commentary is still missing].

Is the movie too long? Is a majority of it fiction rather than history? Are Akbar's problems solved a bit too easily? Do some songs end up being boring? Is the movie predictable? Does the final fight make you wonder where those swords keep coming from? I perhaps agree to most, if not all of the above.

But is the movie worth watching? Do all the actors match their characters? Has the "period movie" genre come of age in India? Hell yeah! I personally loved the looks, and some of the songs too, not to mention the seamless special effects. And most importantly, I hope this acts as a good example for others to follow. First Mangal Panday, and then now JA -- my hopes with desi moviemakers being able to make convincing-looking period movies are high.

So go and watch Jodhaa Akbar in a theatre near you. It will be worth the $8/200 minutes.
P.S. Those who know me well know how tough it is for me to say this, but I kinda liked Aishwarya's acting in this one. There, I said it. Happy?
P.P.S. Check out Sonu Sood's acting in this one. I think he should get more opportunities.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Raised Maps and some Bhangra

NPR's morning editions are always interesting, and today's was no different. Among the several interesting segments was this one about raised maps for the blind. I strongly recommend a listen.

As an extra, check out this piece about DJ Rekha. You can also listen to three cool foot-tapping numbers from her new album.

Friday, February 15, 2008

YES ??!

OK, so after my V-day post, I got this in the email today:

Now, I knew that someone loves me, but this is interesting.

So, anonymous-gifter-who-is-interested-in-PhDs-returning-to-India, since you have exhausted your free gift quota on the facebook, want to post a comment?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

No red roses, no hearts in the air

Yeah, you read it right -- I am celebrating the singles-awareness-day today :), writing research-related stuff on my new tablet.

But my lack-of-time does not mean you all should not enjoy. For your reading pleasure, I provide the following:

1. A NYTimes article [via JD] of love and diet, aptly titled "I Love You, but You Love Meat". I know I will feel sad if I dated someone who does not eat meat, and I had to endure my chicken-curry all by myself :-|.

2. Abi's V-day links. Edition One and Two.

3. Customary anti-V-day propaganda from our conservative hindu friends back home. My suggestion -- follow Indian culture, ban Valentine's day, celebrate Vatsyayana day instead :-).

P.S. So, any women interested in someone with a PhD who wants to go back to Indian academia? :P

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Travelling to the US with a laptop? Be prepared to be searched

Check out this article [ref: /.] about how U.S. Agents can inspect and confiscate your digital media. From the article:
The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background, many of whom, including Mango and the tech engineer, said they are concerned they were singled out because of racial or religious profiling.

Funny, since I am sure the US Govt. does not do racial profiling.

To protect your corporate [and personal] secrets, check out this slashdot comment, and maybe think of using truecrypt :-). Then again, maybe if we do not give them the password, we end up living in an airport.

In other US Govt. news, check out this Daily Show Video [warning: mildly adult content]

And finally, a sad fact about the number 1411.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A sweet tablet

Finally, I purchased a tablet PC! It is a gateway and I love it so far. Sadly, firefox does not come with tablet PC support natively. However, the great GeckoTIP extension brings tablet functionality to it and other Mozilla tools.

Yes, this post has been prepared using only the stylus - no keyboard used. I guess it will help me even more, esp. since I can write faster than I can type, and somehow this thing has amazing handwriting recognition skills!

Looking forward to a tabletized future...
P.S. A HUGE thanks to H for pointing one to this deal, as well as driving with me to make the purchase.

Friday, February 08, 2008

In a lighter vein...

Wanna get some laughs? then come see me and my buddies in our first desi improv comedy show of the semester. Saturday at 4pm on USC campus, between THH and Bovard.

More details at the Vidushak Blog.

In other comedy news, it gives me great pleasure to recommend The Daily Tamasha to you all. It is in the spirit of the Onion, but with a desi chutney :-). And I am proud to say that it is written by none other than my dear Varun Grover of the GAP Nautanki Company fame from our ITBHU days :-). It has been placed in the blogroll for permanence. Funny thing, I just checked the blog, and he has blogrolled me :-). I, sir, am honored.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Protesting against protestors

Can someone please start a riot against rioters? I mean, seriously, how much more do we, as citizens have to endure before we get serious about the publicity-hungry mobs who will protest at the drop of a hat?

Why this outrage Animesh, you say. Well, it is because the best tennis player in Asia has decided to not play in her home country. And this is obviously because the powers-that-be do not have the ****s to step up and say "enough BS, leave her alone or we will send you to jail". It was Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty some time ago, and now it is Sania Mirza.

Now, I am all for free speech, but threatening speech is not done. There should also be court-imposed fines over frivolous PILs, so celebrities do not need to watch out for a national flag wherever they go.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

TZP and the origins of talent

I finally watched the amazing Taare Zameen Par today. Great movie. Please go and watch it if you have not watched it yet.

This post is not about the greatness of the movie, which many people have talked about already. This is also not about pointing out the faults in the movie, because I am sure people have talked about that too.

This post is to get your opinions on a question that we friends started discussing about while watching the movie. The question we discussed was:

"Talking about abstract skills such as art, are some kids just born with it? or can anyone be trained in them?"

Some PoVs:
1. Of course, abstract things like art are skills that the brain either has or does not have. You cannot "train" someone to paint.
2. The human brain is immensely malleable. Anyone can be trained to be a master painter.
3. At higher levels, abstract concepts such as painting and more "concrete" skills such as math are not much different. Thinking up of ways to turn a sphere inside out is as "arty" as painting a masterpiece. And yes, some brains might be better suited for a particular skill. However, anyone, with proper and appropriately-paced training, can become good at a skill, whether it is painting or solving partial differential equations. However, only a few can become true masters. What happens most often, especially in Indian scenarios, is that underpaid and uninterested teachers are not willing to make learning exciting. As a result, only the kids with "aptitude" excel, since the ones without it are not being trained properly.

There is more I have to say... but I shall wait for what you think about this topic. Is "talent" an inborn trait? How much of talent is inborn? [question changed to make it clearer]