Sunday, May 31, 2009


For those of you who are still unaware of Google Wave, here is the question they aim to answer:

"In the current world which is aware of IM, blogs, and microblogs, what if one was to re-invent email from scratch, using the experience gained from exposure to these communication paradigms"

The answer, created by the same guys who created google maps and wowed us, is below. I strongly recommend watching the whole video, it gets more amazing as it progresses.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Love: Math and Bio

N had this link to a very interesting NYTimes opinion piece on the Math behind love as her google status today. Some snippets

The premise:
suppose Romeo is in love with Juliet, but in our version of the story, Juliet is a fickle lover. The more Romeo loves her, the more she wants to run away and hide. But when he takes the hint and backs off, she begins to find him strangely attractive. He, on the other hand, tends to echo her: he warms up when she loves him and cools down when she hates him.

and then he goes to model them... using differential equations, no less
Add to those possibilities the two ways Romeo could react to Juliet’s affections — either increasing or decreasing his own — and you see that there are four personality types, each corresponding to a different romantic style.


Although these examples are whimsical, the equations that arise in them are of the far-reaching kind known as differential equations. They represent the most powerful tool humanity has ever created for making sense of the material world. Sir Isaac Newton used them to solve the ancient mystery of planetary motion. In so doing, he unified the heavens and the earth, showing that the same laws of motion applied to both.
And in the end, he shares with us what happened when he applied math to his own love-situation back in the day, and why math stopped working beyond a point, but only due to a clearly mathematical reason.

Seriously, go read it.

Moving on, another discussion today (with M) made me do a little googling, and brought me to this article about the biological aspects of love. (Sorry but their claims do not have citations).

First, the premise:
We call it love. It feels like love. But the most exhilarating of all human emotions is probably nature’s beautiful way of keeping the human species alive and reproducing.

With an irresistible cocktail of chemicals, our brain entices us to fall in love. We believe we’re choosing a partner. But we may merely be the happy victims of nature’s lovely plan.
Then, the interesting bit about how the body behaves, in reaction to hormones, during the phases of "love" - lust, attraction, and attachment. Among others, this gem:
Does love change the way you think?
A landmark experiment in Pisa, Italy showed that early love (the attraction phase) really changes the way you think.

Dr Donatella Marazziti, a psychiatrist at the University of Pisa advertised for twenty couples who'd been madly in love for less than six months. She wanted to see if the brain mechanisms that cause you to constantly think about your lover, were related to the brain mechanisms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

By analysing blood samples from the lovers, Dr Marazitti discovered that serotonin levels of new lovers were equivalent to the low serotonin levels of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients.
And finally, they talk about a fool-proof three step procedure titled "how to fall in love". But for that, you should read the article :).

So, what do _you_ think ? Feel free to comment anonymously if you so desire :-).
P.S. Another way to increase your dopamine level - sports! And I sure _love_ the fact that I have resumed playing tennis regularly :).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Ghazals

Will be posting about my trip to the center court on the opening day of the french open in a bit, but for now, here are some ghazals I am listening to.

My favorite, if one can choose among these gems, is ranjish hi sahi. The lyrics in the devnagri script are here, and in Roman script (with full translation) is here. A direct link to its video is here.

One of my fav. lines here
किस किस को बताएँगे जुदाई का सबब हम
kis kis ko bataayengay judaai kaa sabab ham
Who else must I explain the reason of separation

तू मुझ से ख़फ़ा है तो ज़माने के लिए आ ।
tu mujh se khafaa hai to zamaanay kay liyay aa
Come, despite your displeasure, to continue the ceremony

Friday, May 22, 2009

Power without God

I have often exclaimed how any serious political candidate in the USA has to repeatedly announce his/her Christian beliefs, while in India it is not so, apart from those who explicitly want to benefit from pandering to the people of their own faith.

My friends often countered this with the fact that while Indian masses already know your religion from your surname, they also _assume_ that you are a "believer" in a higher power. That if it came out that a politician was agnostic or atheist, they would never win in India.

Well, the cat (some cats, at least) are out of the bag! The ToI reports that as many as six cabinet ministers took their oaths of office only on the constitution, no "help me God". From the article:
Six cabinet ministers of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's new team are 'non-believers'. These ministers "solemnly affirmed" that they would bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution while taking oath today.

The Prime Minister and 13 of his ministers took the oath in the name of God.

This who didn’t, are A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, M Veerappa Moily, S Jaipal Reddy and C P Joshi, a first-timer in the cabinet.

The other ministers who took oath in the name of God include Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Vayalar Ravi, S M Krishna, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kamal Nath, Meira Kumar, Murli Deora, Kapil Sibal, Ambika Soni, B K Handique and Anand Sharma.

Given that our home minster is a non-believer, does that mean that God won't bless India?

In any case, this agnostic feels that it is a good sign for the country when a politician can openly acknowledge his lack of belief in a supernatural power, while still stressing their intention to do their duty in accordance with our governing document; one that didn't come to someone in a vision, or is not comprised of God's own words, but is a living, changing, evolving entity, much like our rich culture.

Amen to that!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One way for the Right

I wrote yesterday about the options in front of the BJP, and how "logically", it makes sense to go more to the right, although that would personally make me sad.

However, last night, as I was watching the Colbert Report, and Meghan McCain appeared on it. She is the daughter of Senator John McCain, and describes her as pro-sex, pro-life, and pro-gay-marriage republican.

'nuf said, watch the video.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Meghan McCain
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

I don't agree with her PoVs, but she does infuse a fresh breath into the Republican party, and provides a voice to many people who want to be economically conservative and socially liberal.

Now, if LKA's frank, articulate, socially liberal beautiful daughter (not sure if Ms Pratibha Advani has appeared on TV yet) was to show up on TV... oh wait, the most famous women the BJP has got are these ladies.

So dear readers, what say? Who can become BJP's Meghan? Hai koi Meghana?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Right to go?

After my initial post about the election results, here is some analysis.

Well, I guess better writing has been done by the likes of M.J.Akbar, who wrote in this wonderful piece:
The BJP might want to consider a fundamental fact about our country. India is not a secular nation because Indian Muslims want it to be secular. India is a secular nation because Indian Hindus want it to be secular.
A similar PoV comes from this article on offstumped, a right-of-center blog [ref: abi]:
4. Riots have consequences we can no longer be in denial on VHP’s conduct. There has to be accountability for the rot in Orissa.


10. Last but not the least, it would be in complete denial if it did not ask tough questions of how Acts of Adharma in the name of Hindutva have been condoned and the relevance of Hindutva as an ideology to guide on Socio-Economic issues.
Now, I agree that these elections have shown that going extreme right-wing is not the way, and indeed the BJP experts were trying very hard for people to forget that the only thing that their "nidar neta" (fearless leader) had done to show his fearlessness was to whip up religious frenzy and demolish a mosque. However, Varun G served as a big jolt to the people who had begun to lean towards the NDA. Then they said "jab wohi development, wohi corruption, humein riots ke bageir mile, toh koi yeh kyun lein, woh na lein?" (paraphrasing the nirma super ad).

And this brings me to the big question - where does the BJP go from here? Clearly the question they face is very similar to what the republicans in the USA faced after their defeat in 2008. Behind all the explanatory interviews on how this was NOT a big defeat, there was definitely some soul searching going on. The BJP is undoubtedly in a similar situation, and if you see the comments on offstumped, you will see that far-right and the center-right people airing their differences.

I sure hope that their move more to the center in social terms, and work on creating a distinguishing brand for themselves devoid of religious connotations.

However, the thing that bothers me is this:

Unlike the Republicans in USA, who are both economically "and" socially on the right w.r.t the democrats ("tax cuts for the rich" and "no abortions no matter what, because God said so"), the BJP is _only_ socially on the right. Of course, no party can be economically be on the right and win in India.

But that leads to a problem - the desi masses seem to currently be OK with the UPA's economically--center-left and socially-left agenda. The only way that the BJP _can_ differentiate itself (without going economically right) is by going _more_ socially right. Going towards the center will need them to depend on the UPA to fail so that people think of them as the other viable centrist national party, and I think this version of the UPA govt. is more politically shrewd and less bound by 'allies' than the last one.

So, what else _can_ the BJP do but move more to the social/religious right?

P.S. this is not unlike the current US scenario, where being economically right is taboo, thanks to the crisis. As a results, the republicans have resorted to the only possible gambit - go extreme right on social aspects. Not saying it is working, but I can understand their reasons.

P.P.S. On Grover's demand, and to showcase the victory of "let's just do our work and forget about killing our fellows" over intolerance, here is the video of the day:

update post watching the song: Just to be clear, I LOVE the acknowledgment of national achievements and culture part in the lyrics, but disagree with the blatant "everything western is bad" allusion in the video. I especially support Saira Bano's right to bare her back and wear a wig :).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Verdict 2009: Same Same but Different

As many (all?) of you would have heard by now, the UPA coalition is set to make the next govt. in India, which means this man is the king again, and minus the pesky left parties or "fourth front".

The campy remix with Snoop Dogg is here.

My "analysis" tomorrow. Promise.

In the meantime, what do _you_ think of the results?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Desi Folk Remixed

Not much to write today, but thought I'd share what I am swaying to right now. I must say I get very happy when I hear (good) remixes of folk songs.

Below, you will find "genda phool" (Delhi 6) and "pardesi" (Dev D). If you got any recommendations, please post them in the comments, and I'd be happy to add them.

and if you are interested in Indian poll predictions [or in smiling :-)], I strongly recommend reading the Daily Tamasha's scoop that a newborn is predicting the results now!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Comedian in Chief

Am super busy, but here it is - a set of wonderful jokes about Obama and his administration, by the guy himself

And here is the video of the official comedian of the evening, Wanda Sykes.

and of course, the best - Colbert roasting Bush!

I'd love our pols to do similar things, and no, am not talking about the comedy that happens when the parliament is _in_ session :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Tower and the Gelato

The Tower:

and the Gelato:

And for more, check out the entire album.

Am crazy busy with my presentation, so here are some quick facts.
1. Had gone to Pisa for a project meeting. (yup, work related :-) )
2. Missed my flight, rather, wasn't allowed on my flight since I had only taken my work-permit card to the airport. In my immense smartness, I thought that it will be enough of a photo ID. Needless to say, I was wrong :P.
3. Luckily, got the next day's flight. Half a day of meeting, and a wonderful dinner by the seaside missed :(.
4. Saw snowcapped mountains under the clouds while flying (perhaps the alps). And then I saw one mountain peak piercing through the layer of clouds! surreal! Sadly, the camera was in the overhead compartment.
5. _Walked_ from my aircraft into the terminal at Pisa airport. Very much like Patna :D
6. Total time spent in Pisa: under 24 hours.

The rest of the story is in the pictures, in 40,000 words ;-).

And for those who missed the link to the album, thanks to my blog' colors,

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Chamko! A sweet soap :-)

Not sure how many of you have seen Chashm-e-buddoor (wiki, imdb), but it is one of my favorite sweet middle-class romantic comedies.

So if you got some time, rather, _when_ you get some time, have a look.

M personal favorite scene is the Chamko soap one, which is around 45:00. :). Simply the best!

Sorry for removing the embedded version - it asks for a password. You need to register on the site to view videos.

In lieu of that, I give you two nice songs from the movie. However, nothing matches the chamko sabun scene :)

Here's wishing for more contemporary sweet middle class romantic comedies! (e.g., the first part of Oye Lucky)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Strong Emotions

For strong outrage:
Homes of Sikhs razed in Pak; India irked

[would like this to be read by the guy who was selling me the idea yesterday of how "moral policing" is needed for society - I am sure the Taliban feel that enforcing shariya is " moral"]


7 teachers, 2 students drown in Gujarat

WTF?!!? How do 9 people drown together! What were their buddies doing?
and FYI: I myself have been in a precarious situation back in a picnic during my college days, but it wasn't like 9 of us were in risk of drowing and noone saw it.


For strong wow!ness
My Valetine's day gift to you - an Onion!
[ref: J]


And for strong, satirical laugher, these:

A great tale of poetic justice (watch till the end):

and then, I am amazed at the probability knowledge of the science teacher in the clip :P

and in other news, I am off to Pisa on Sunday evening! Any travel tips?