Wednesday, February 27, 2002


I am appalled by this report in The Newspaper Today.

"The opposition to the VHP's Ayodhya Temple movement found a deadly echo... in... Godhra in Gujarat when at least 40 people, almost all of them VHP's Ram sevaks... coming from Ayodhaya, were roasted alive and several others injured when locals Muslims set a bogey of the Sabarmati Express on fire... "

May be I am too conservative... but I find this report extremely prejudicial and inflammatory. Thank god this page requires registration.

Osama Bin Laden fooled by 'nuclear swindle'

"The world's most wanted man is believed to have been tricked into buying worthless metal drums painted with skull and crossbones motifs to fool him into thinking they contained materials he could use to make nuclear weapons."

Why do I find this report hard to believe?

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

An excellent cartoon

Check out the brilliant summation of BJP's predicament by Ninan.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a looksee.

Child aid workers demand sex for food and favours

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has sent a team of investigators into refugee camps in west Africa following the revelation that large numbers of children have been sexually exploited by aid workers there.

Shocks will never cease.

If you like putting broken things together, try this storehouse of jigsaw puzzles.

Slaves Are Us

We are all slaves.
Slaves of our destiny. Our desires. Our expectations.
Slaves of other people's destinies, desires and expectations.
Slaves of our wealth. And poverty. Our ability. And inadequacies.
Of our relationships. Our Family. And Society.
We are slaves at the workplace. And in the classroom.
Slaves of our faith. And our lack of it.
Of the weather. The local train. The new car.
We are slaves of the clock and the calendar.
Slaves of music and movies. Slaves of the Web and the cell phone. Slaves of technology and science.
We are all slaves...
...And we are the masters.

Smudging the Footprints of the Mahatma

In a rigid, exam-focused education system in South Korea, the Gandhi School is a breath of fresh air. And now it's being pushed toward bankruptcy.

Quotable Quotes

"God is the sum total of our ignorance."
- Khushwant Singh in India Abroad.

"It's when you are going uphill that you realise you are going downhill."
- A birthday speech in a movie on Star Movies, I don't know which. But here's a clue: The scene had Meryl Streep wearing a frock...

Monday, February 25, 2002

Is Weblog Technology Here to Stay or Just Another Fad?

The New York Times analyses the phenomenon of "so-called Weblogs".

Do I note a hint of condescension here?

Third Voice: Vox Populi Vox Dei?

Update on my inline chatting post: A good article from First Monday on the phenomenon

I am just feeling contrarian today.

While everybody just can't stop singing praises of Sanjay Bangar, I must strike a discordant note.

Of course, the young player's century in just his second test is a laudable effort. But, tell me, which Indian player doesn't score on our pitches? He came in at a time when India was absolutely under no pressure. One century, against the lowly Zimbabwean attack, and we are all going gaga over the discovery of an allrounder. I think our celebrations are a bit premature.

Sanjay Bangar's selection ahead of Virender Sehwag is a big mistake. The logic was that he could turn his arm over, if necessary. He bowled eight overs in the first innings and none in the second... And, I am certainly not impressed with his "dibbly-dobbly" stuff.

On the other hand, Sehwag is one of the most exciting batting prospects we have had in a long, long while. On his day, he can decimate any bowling attack. And he has proved that time and time again. To make him sit out for someone as ordinary as Sanjay Bangar is a travesty.

I hope Sanjay Bangar proves me wrong (I doubt that very much). But what I hope even more fervently is that such whimsical selections don't demoralise a player of the calibre of Sehwag.

Aamir Khan's Double Standards!

Cricket and movies. I love them both. But naturally then, I loved Lagaan. And now it's been nominated for an Oscar.

Shouldn't I be hip-hip-hurraying?

Frankly, no. Because, the manner in which Aamir Khan and his band of merry men are pushing the film to the Oscar jury sucks.

Here's a man with an avowed distaste for awards. He has been contemptuous of all Indian award functions. But Oscars? Hey that's a different story altogether. It's no matter that you have to convince the jury to merely watch your film. No matter that you have to canvass support for your film. I find this whole charade double standards at its worst.

And to think that the film was all about a triumphant struggle against colonialism!

Even if it wins an award now, I won't be joining the applause.

Search engines head for "Pay for Placement" trouble

Mark Nutritionals Inc, which produces and markets the Body Solutions weight-loss program, accused AltaVista, Kanoodle, FindWhat and Overture of selling the placement rights to "body solutions" to competitors.

The company's lawyers call it Internet piracy.

Raising a stink to quell a riot

"British police forces are considering using vile smells to quell riots, disperse anti-globalisation protesters and end hostage situations."

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Was just wondering? Whatever happened to those inline chat thingies like ThirdVoice, GetGooey, ICQ Surf etc?

Pay Attention!

Web 'turns people into goldfish'

A US expert says obsessive browsing can cause attention spans to drop to as little as nine seconds - equivalent to that of a goldfish.

What's that you are opening, a new window? Umm... err... where was I... damn!

Don't drink coffee in a mug!

A New York man bled to death after falling on shards of a broken coffee mug

Friday, February 22, 2002

According to a Times of India anchor story today, putting a comma between numbers on a cheque and measuring your temperature in Fahrenheit could make you liable for a fine.


BBC gets interactive

It is offering multiple simultaneous live feeds of all the action at the Winter Olympics in Utah. How it works?

"Press the red interactive button and the BBC serves up three video feeds of live events to choose from, all accessed via the same screen. Scroll down to the action you want, and press the button for the full-screen version, or scroll back up and watch all three events at once."

A great site. This explores the history of telephony and mobile telephony and explains basic concepts of digital wireless and cellular technologies.

US may pay ransom for hostages under new policy

After all the tough talk, this looks like a step back in the war on terrorism.

Salon's review of Monsoon Wedding

Cool: Moments of Simplicity

Cheap Gimmick or Great Advertising?

Ads for Robin Hood Software, which makes an application that eliminates all traces of your 'illicit' activities is trying to hard-sell its product by frightening the wits out of surfers. Only, much of what they claim is simply untrue.

According to me this is neither a cheap gimmick nor is it great advertising. It's simply a cheap lie.

How Embarrassing?!

The New York Times puts out an editor's note separating the fact from the fiction of one of its articles.

Is there any credibility left, at all? Can one believe anything?

For isntance, this ABC News report points out that all the hoo-ha over a woman being vacuum-sealed to an inflight toilet seat was also a piece of fiction that grew to become an Urban Legend.

And while, the media is reporting a lot of fiction, Village Voice lists 10 questions that they are not answering.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

This report in Mid-Day about Bombay Municipal Corporation's plans to auction its official vehicles says the corporation spends Rs 1 crore -- yes one crore -- every month on each of its official vehicles. This includes driver salaries, their overtime, fuel and maintenance charges.

Don't you think this figure is a bit rich? I would believe anything about the people who govern us, but I think there might be an error in this one...

If it's true, what do you reckon they do with the crore? Give the cars a fresh coat of gold paint everyday? Or perhaps they use aviation fuel?

No wonder the BMC is bankrupt. According to this pretty old article by Sucheta Dalal, our city godfathers spend 75 per cent of revenues on salaries.

Lately, I have been harsh on the quality of journalism, especially the variety practised by Indian journalists.

Makes me wonder how I performed when I was one.

As a journalist, you tend to live in an ivory tower, caught up in your own world. But when you get to the other side, one gets a fresh perspective on what makes relevant news and what doesn't... what makes a good headline and what doesn't...

I suppose I should be more forgiving... But, hey, there's no fun in that... :)

A new byline has made its appearance on The Times of India.

"By A Good News Reporter"

What in heavens does this mean?

I know we are all up to our collective necks in depressing news of filthy politicians, wars, hunger, quakes and what not... But isn't this stretching it a bit too far?

Question for the day

Does anybody, ever, read archives on a blog? At least, I don't think anybody does on mine...

:( Maybe no one's interested in my past :)

Sleeping with the enemy

"Two men -- an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim -- risk harassment, jail and death for their love."

I find this story amazing simply because here are two people defying every single rule in the book. They are transcending cultural, communal, regional, moral barriers to sustain their relationship. And they are doing it under the constant shadow of fear and death.

Too late to stop the hangman?

The US state, Missouri, is determined to execute Joseph Amrine for murder even though every prosecution witness and the jury foreman now say he's innocent and new witnesses point to another man. Why? A federal law says the evidence came in too late.

What was that about justice being blind and the law being asinine?

ISI dumping fake currency in Hyderabad

Aren't we all tired of reports like these? They smack of being plants...

Anyway, that's not why I am putting it here. Here's a para from the story that takes the cake.

"Intelligence agencies which nabbed a few members of the gang and seized the fake money earlier, pointed out that the currency has an uncanny resemblance with the notes printed by the Reserve Bank of India and are capable of being bypassed by a brilliant bankers’ eye, to the extent of 99 notes to 100."

Forget the horrendous editing. But the words in bold really make me crack up... What's the point of making fake notes if they don't look like the real one? Does it really need a mention? Please....

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

If you downloaded the Anthrax screensaver, you have reason to believe that you might have contributed in some small way to a scientific feat.

The screensaver, which enabled Oxford University scientists to use the idle computing power of millions of computers worldwide to discover a drug for Anthrax, has hit pay dirt in just four weeks.

Hannibal would seem like a teddy bear.

A Nigerian man killed his boss and turned her into pepper soup

There's a touch of irony in the URL... it says type=human news!

This is anything but.

Thirty years ago, an accountant killed his entire family: his mother, his wife, and their three children.
Now, he's saying why he did it.
He says he wanted to spare them the shame of losing their New Jersey mansion and to make sure they got to heaven.
He sure as hell won't be meeting them there.

BBC reports on a study on Web rage.

Just take a deep breath. Count to 10. But for heaven's sake don't smash up your laptop, like one person in the article did.

Ken Layne is debuting a new column on Fox News.

Here's how Fox News describes the new intitiative:
"Beginning this week, Fox News brings some of the web's newest voices under its wing with the addition of the Fox Weblog. With it, we hope to bring the far-flung corners of the Internet to your desktop, with a little commentary on the side. For those who don't know, a weblog is a tour of the Net guided by a pilot you will come to know over time. We hope you enjoy the tour."

If you can't stop them, take them into your fold. The Media is finally waking up to the fact that blogs could someday actually threaten them...

Is the last bastion crumbling...?

Google is introducing a new program that allows Web sites to be displayed more prominently...

This is worrying...

Are these guys dumb or just very optimistic?

Kidnappers in Brazil accepted post-dated cheques as ransom.

I wonder if they will sue if the cheques bounce?

Robbers can be generous with their booty.

Youths, armed with spades and knives, broke into a house in North-West Delhi. Roughed up a 60-year-old schoolteacher, and cleaned up about 25,000 worth of jewellery and 15,000 in cash.

Just before leaving they handed over on request Rs 1000 to a relative of the teacher for his return ticket to Jammu and Kashmir since he had to attend a family wedding...

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says that Pakistanis can speak English like the Englishmen. And, says, they can teach China a thing or two about the Queen's Tongue.


Requires subscription

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

All Asian E-Mail = Spam = Block! Block! Block!

I find this a bit difficult to digest.

"A new great wall is being built, this time across the Internet.

Constructed by frustrated systems administrators and intended only to stop spam, the wall could eventually cut off much of the e-mail communications between the East and the West."

The latest issue of Outlook has an interesting cover story on how Indian language writers are reacting to the fame and fortune of Indian Writers in English (IWE).

Most of those in the former category are pretty contemptuous of IWEs.

Some choice quotes:

"They are such necromancers, creating something out of nothing."
- Marathi Author, Balachandran Nimade

"A third-rate serpent-and-rope trick."
- Rajendra Yadav, Hindi

"...It makes both the IWE and their readers intellectual pygmies."
- Gurdial Singh, Punjabi

"It’s like the sambhar served in a five-star hotel."
- B Jayamohan, Tamil

"I know why they write in English. It’s because they’re insecure in their own mother tongue."
- Sunil Gangopadhyay, Bengali

It's not a case of sour grapes, they insist. Methinks, it sure seems so.

About 19,000 Americans are wrongly reported dead each year.

Imagine having to call up a government office to find out if you are still alive!

Please bear with me, and read the following paragraph:

"If primordial soup had been predictive Alphabet Soup, your cup would have surely runneth over -- with A for Acheulian, B for Bhimbetka and C for Chalcolithic Caves or that kind of prehistoric ABC. And if you want to get to the end of your cup and the rock bottom of history, take a holiday at Bhimbetka, the largest collection of prehistoric art in India."

This is how a travel piece in Outlook Magazine begins. Hieroglyphics would be easier to decipher, don't you think?

One of the best shows on television -- my favourite pastime these days -- is Kamzor Kadi Kaun.
Before you think I have lost my marbles, hear me out. I nominate it as the best unintentionally comic show.
On what other so-called "general knowledge quiz show" would you have a participant call Gorbachev the first president of USA (poor George!) and another place Kargil in Pakistan (was the war a waste of time then?)
The reasons for voting out people range from the ridiculous -- "Woh mujhe tassan de raha tha" (He has been spoiling for a fight) -- to the downright insensitive -- "Woh buddi hai" (She is very old).
The cribs by participants who have been voted out are a study in pettiness.
Watch it, if only to realise how ignorant we all are, and how petty, too.

Frightening! Frightening! Frightening! And Scary!

Warning: Plug ahead!

While a lot of people, everyone from Time magazine to Guardian are discovering the wonders of blogging, as far back as December 2000, reported on Blogger and Manila.

It isn't a Pulitzer prize-winning article. Nor does it, in hindsight, foresee what the blogging phenomenon has today evolved into. But it's there.


Ken Layne pans the Wired article on blogging. And I agree.

Lesbian mother denied custody; Judge pans homosexuality

"In awarding custody of three teenagers to their father over their lesbian mother, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court wrote Friday that homosexuality is "an inherent evil" and shouldn't be tolerated."

Monday, February 18, 2002

New Ways We'll Move in the Future

This ABC News article explores the future of transportation. By air, rail and sea.

Someone once told me, if you want to keep a secret, don't tell anyone.

Keep Your Secrets tells you how to effectively deceive, misdirect, lie, and hide objects and/or activities.

Do I see a lot of politicians queueing up to sign up on this page?

A milestone: Full TP has just crossed a 1000 visitors, since I started counting a little over a month back.

My advice for the day: Don't blog too much. And even if you do, don't take it too seriously. It messes with your mind.
A very 'knowledgeable' friend says keeping a diary leads to schizophrenia.

If you thought POTO was bad, take a look at the proposed UK Export Control Bill . Here's what Independent has to say

"Laws being introduced by the Government would give it the power to see academic papers before they are published and suppress them. It could also prevent the use of e-mails between foreign colleagues.

The Export Control Bill... could also mean foreign students working in British laboratories would need 'licences'."

OnlineBlog, maintained by a Guardian journalist, has a post about Port41, touted as an alternative to Blogger.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Math is rooted in metaphors, not divine inspiration, says a new book which examine where mathematical ability comes from.

Junk food is, well, junk food.

Here's a guide to jumping off the fast food track.

More on 20.02.02

Uri Geller is conducting an experiment on this palindromic day, through which all your wishes could come true.

Don't worry, says the psychic, if things start falling off the shelves during the experiment.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

I have been watching a lot of television these days. And the most entertaining shows on prime time are political talk shows. They are unintentionally hilarious.
On almost each and every one of these shows -- across channels -- one pemanent guest was Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party leader.
I don't know why all these channels and producers love him so much. He doesn't say anything new, gives us the same political spiel and platitudes, wears a similar suit... I mean, why?
I have really had enough of that man....
I hope our channels find some more interesting guests...

Update: Mea Culpa. A very observant and anon commenter caught out an obvious flaw in my post. Instead of searching for Nasser Hussain, I did one for Naseer Hussain :( So BBC is out of my bad books. NYT remains there.

Have you ever tried searching the archives of news sites on the net.

Most of them are so damn poor.

The worst of the lot is New York Times.

It takes ages to search. And it's results are anything but relevant. The advanced search, for a large part of a day that I tried reaching, never quite made it to my desktop window.

Here's a good test: Try searching for George Soros. When the results do load, choose the closest match option. This is what I got. It sucks.

The Archive search on BBC is pretty decent. But try searching for Naseer Hussain and you will see how they fail.

It's the same story with most news web sites. But what bugs me about NY Times is they actually have the gall to expect someone to experience one of the worst searches and pay if they find the needle in the haystack.

Friday, February 15, 2002

A Riddle

If a compulsive liar says he’s lying would you believe him?

This is a bit like the Liar’s Paradox and Bertrand Russell’s Barber’s Paradox.

Some dimensions of Truth, additions welcome….

The philosopher: The Truth is...
The Argumentative SOB: The Truth isn’t…
The Liar: I speak the Truth
The consumer: The Truth is something I haven't been told yet.
The opportunist: The Truth is nothing but a lie that hasn't been caught out.
The fatalist: Truth happens.
The Banker: Truth has no value
The Stock Broker: I am bullish on Truth
Raja Harishchandra: Read my lips
The X-files fan: The Truth is on out there... on Channel 8
George Bush: Make no mistake, we will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. That is the Truth.

Here's a new catchphrase for bloggers (with due apologies to Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks)

"You've got comments!"

Who Am I?

I am the Chosen One.
I may even have been Gandhi in my past life
As a child, I easily could have convinced the entire class to stage a sit-in against the math teacher. But I wouldn't think of doing these things becasue I am sooooo sweet.
Perky and armed with tons of self-confidence, I am not afraid to actively pursue my goals and dreams.

I am also an Insightful Linguist.
Like Charles Dickens, I have the natural fluency of a writer and the visual and spatial strengths of an artist. Those skills contribute to my creative and expressive mind.

I discovered all these wonderful things about myself -- things I have been trying to convince those around me with little success -- through two tests at emode.

I indulged in these distractions after reading Sylvia's article about the emode tests.

Go ahead, discover good things about yourself, too. But don't expect anyone else to believe it!

Thursday, February 14, 2002

If you have a fascination for numbers, maybe this here, that I got in my mailbox may interest you.

"As the clock ticks over from 8:01PM on Wednesday, February 20th, 2002, time will (for sixty seconds only) read in perfect symmetry. To be more precise: 20:02, 20/02, 2002.
"It is an event which has only ever happened once before, and is something which will never be repeated. The last occasion that time read in such a symmetrical pattern was long before the days of the digital watch (or the 24-hour clock): 10:01AM, on January 10, 1001.
"And because the clock only goes up to 23.59, it is something that will never happen again."

To be successful in business, be a Valentine, says Yahoo's Cheif Solutions Office Tom Sanders in a new book called Love Is A Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends.

"Business is really not rocket science. Success, he says, comes from being loving, compassionate and touchy-feely."

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Norway prison prescribes Viagra to sex offenders, because they are "normal" individuals, too.

I see Jay Leno having a ball on this one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Net thieves find new way to nab cash

This is clever, clever!

Commit a crime to cast your vote, EC orders

In an astonishing move, the Election Commission ruled late today that those without a criminal record would not be allowed to vote.

In a terse notification, the EC said those without a history sheet are simply incapable of evaluating the merits of most of the candidates contesting elections. "It takes one criminal to understand another," it said.

It has also lowered the age bar to accommodate juvenile delinquents.

The EC has ordered a revamping of the electoral rolls in consultation with the law-enforcement agencies.

Political parties have been too stunned to react to this sudden development. But this correspondent managed to corner one of the electoral candidates -- whose crime sheet includes two murders, a dacoity and polygamy.

"What do you think of the EC's new order?"
"It was high time someone realised that the country needs people like us."
"Why do you say that?"
"Look at me! I have three wives, four houses and more money under this bed than you can earn in several lifetimes."
"Would I have progressed so far, so soon, if I had been an honest man?"
"Probably not."
"Then how can an honest country ever expect to progress. You think you can fight crime with the law? No way! The only way to stop crime, is to legalise it. No crime, no criminals."
"If there are no criminals, who's going to vote?"

A direct fallout of the EC's order is an unprecedented surge in crime rates around the country. Large-scale bookings of crimes never committed have been recorded at police stations which, in turn, has spawned a wave of crimes actually committed.

This correspondent ran into one such criminal at a police station in Mumbai:

"What crime did you commit?"
"Oh, I have committed two crimes. One that I didn't commit and one that I did."
"What do you mean?"
"I asked this policeman here to book me on a shop-lifting crime that I didn't commit. Hell, I have not shopped in ages, ever since I was laid-off in the dotcom meltdown."
"So what crime did you commit?"
"I committed the crime of bribing him to book me on a crime that I didn't commit."
"I am confused. Will you be voting or not?"
"Of course I will. Not as a shop-lifter, but for bribing a law-enforcement officer. Our cop here will be voting too, for accepting the bribe."

Monday, February 11, 2002

Crushed cockroaches in coke a secret remedy for back injury, claims Olympic athlete.

Shiva Kesavan is a Luger (someone who hurtles down icy tracks at unimaginable speeds for fun and gold). And he is the sole Indian representative at the Utah Winter Olympics.

The Newspaper Today has an article. You will need to subscribe to read it though.

A Net love story, at last, that warms -- yes, yes, it's a cliche -- the cockles of my heart.

Emails, word plays, distance, enchantement, romance and the meeting of minds... what more could one ask from a love story?

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Thought For The Day

Unravelling the threads of Life;
we entangle ourselves

Conversations With A Creature Called Conscience

Conscience: Why do you always lie?
Me: What nonsense! I never lie
C: You are lying now.
M: Of course not!
C: Remember the time you went to that exhibition, and an artist asked you what you thought of his work. You said: “I like the bold strokes. And your use of colours speaks of pain and suffering. There is a rare bleakness to your canvas.” You were quoting from a review of a different artist you had read long back. But what you really wanted to say was: “What a messy blotch of colours. What was this man thinking?”
M: (surprised) How do you know all this?
C: I know everything about you.
M: I couldn’t hurt him, could I? He had put in such a lot of effort.
C: Are you always so concerned about hurting other people?
M: Of course I am.
C: You are lying again. Remember the fight you had with your closest friend?
M: Yes I do. He was being such a jerk.
C: You said mean things and hurt him real bad, didn’t you?
M: Yeah, I was angry then.
C: So, it’s ok to hurt people you like? But it’s not ok to hurt strangers you will never meet again?
M: I didn’t say that.
C: See, that’s what I mean. You lie all the time.
M: You are twisting my words.
C: Liar.
M: What do you want from me?
C: I want you to consult me more often.
M: What are you fees?
C: I am not one of those high-flying consultants you see these days. I don’t have a fancy office and a foreign degree. So I dispense my services for free.
M: What’s the catch?
C: There’s no catch
M: Are you lying?
C: No.
M: Why should I consult you?
C: I can make you happy.
M: Is the service guaranteed? I mean, since I am not paying you, I can’t even ask for my money back.
C: There is no guarantee. In fact, sometimes you might feel more miserable after you have consulted me. But I can assure you that I will not catch you unawares and make you feel miserable when you are actually thinking you are happy.
M: How do I contact you?
C: When you really want to, you will know how.

Question for the day:
Why does the right fit on a belt always fall between two holes?

A Scam a Day

Get headlines from around the world about the best swindles going.

Savage girls and wild boys?

Can human beings be raised by animals? Can we have a 'social relationship' with them?

A new book examines these questions.

I thought of a cool baseline for a future weblog. I am sure some one has already used it (Update: Yes, it has. And on Blogsticker, too!.

Love Me, Love My Blog!

So, here's another:
Don't blog when you slog
Don't slog when you blog

I emailed this article, The Domesticity Wars, to two fellow bloggers who are about to get married.

While there are many truths in both the arguments presented in the article, the fact is that no amount of reading, no amount of advice, no amount of self-counselling can quite prepare one for what can only be described as a life-changing experience.

Every person, every experience, every instance, every relationship is so gloriously different from the other that it becomes well-nigh impossible to lay down a perfect set of dos and don'ts. You discover them with time by accident, serendipity, sharing, disagreement...

Yes, we may have to part with some of our independence -- maybe, in some cases, even a part of our identity. But, tell me, which relationship doesn't extract something out of us? There would be no relationship if there were no give and take. If there were only expectations and no responsibility.

The question is: is what we get in return far more valuable than what we bring to the relationship? Are we comfortable with the exchange? Can we live with it?

Marriages, some have said, are about making compromises. Nothing could be more untrue.
Marriages, according to me, are about making choices. If, in your mind, you are compromising, instead of choosing to do -- or not to do -- something, then you are burdening yourself -- and the relationship. An accummulation of compromises is the surest way to disenchantment.

So when is a choice a choice and not a compromise? In a compromise, you will either lose something you don't want to or you will expect something in return. A compromise is akin to a favour. A rain cheque. You will want to encash it some time in the future.

A choice on the other hand is more selfless. It doesn't come with extra baggage. It makes you feel a whole lot better. And, the best part about it: it is based on caring, love, respect and trust.

If you have those last four things going in a relationship, I don't see why compromise should ever be necessary.

Friday, February 08, 2002

An MSNBC reporter attempts to track spam to the source.

An interesting read.

I found this post by Oblivio on The Obvious, a blog recommended by Nidhi.

It is just too funny (smile funny; not ha-ha funny).

Los Angeles Times reports on the Tihar jail, which it calls "the perfect spot for a merger between militant Islam and the Indian mafia".

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Some have asked me what I meant by "The heaviest responsibility is a collective one". I did not mean heaviest in any literal sense.

Let me narrate an apocryphal story which most of us would have heard in our childhood.

The Mughal emperor Akbar had great faith in his subjects. He believed they were responsible citizens, hard-working, loyal, and honest. His trusted minister Birbal vehemently disagreed. After much heated debate, Birbal informed Akbar that he could prove His Majesty wrong.

Akbar agreed to an experiment.

A royal decree was prepared. It required each and every subject to contribute one glass of milk to a collective pot, which was kept in a secluded spot. They were given a week's time to do the needful.

At the end of the week, Birbal led Akbar to the pot. After much ceremony, the lid was removed.

Akbar was shocked to discover that the content of the pot was more water than milk. "How could this be?" the emperor asked of his minister.

Birbal had a ready answer: "Your majesty, many of your subjects thought: 'If I put a glass of water in the pot, who would be able to tell, with all that milk others are poring in'. So they did just that. Of course, they were a few good men, who shouldered their responsibility, but they were outnumbered by the cheaters."

Moral of the story: If we want milk, we have to shoulder our collective burden. Or we will end up with water.

Salman Rushdie in The Guardian about how anti-americanism is taking the world by storm.

If you plan on using Internet Explorer 6 for your browsing, I suggest you read this CNet article.

"Many have encountered plenty of bugs and a lot of problematic behavior in the new browser -- everything from the way IE 6 plays multimedia files to security holes bigger than the Grand Canyon."

Is this the end of the road?

The tabloid Weekly World News has shut down its online version because:
"We want to see who our true fans are."
"We want to know who loves us."
"We want to keep our jobs."

According to Ed: "I've had enough of this free web crap. When I was a kid, the only thing we got for free was a beating."

Link found on Metafilter

The heaviest responsibility is a collective one

This is my thought for the day, as a follow up on my posts about voting.

The Real Reason Why I Haven't Voted

Mea Culpa: I have never voted in my life.

Not because I considered it a waste of time. But because I have led a such nomadic existence that the people who compile the electoral rolls must have had trouble keeping up with my peregrinations (isn't that a nice word :)

I was born in Chennai. Till my fifth standard I lived in Bandra, once called the queen of Mumbai's suburbs. I did my sixth standard in Mangalore, my seventh in Goa, the rest of my schooling and the first year of my junior college in Mangalore, and I completed my graduation in Mumbai.

In the 18 years that I have been in this city, I have lived with my parents in rented houses in Juhu, Andheri and Sahar (till my graduation); with my cousin in Antop Hill (when I was in that twilight zone between graduation and getting a job); at a community hostel in Kurla; at a bachelor's pad in Kamgar Nagar, Kurla; back for a brief stay at the community hostel, when my lease ran out; post-marriage I have already stayed in three houses: one at Malad, one at Dahisar, and finally I have come to settle down -- ah, what a relief -- in my own little home in Kandivli (read my posts about Home Sweet Home).

I have always wondered how it would feel like to vote. I have always envied that dot on fingertips of all those around me. I have always wanted to be part of the world's greatest and largest electoral process.

Maybe I will vote some day soon (I am slowly accumulating all the trappings of an identity: a driver's license, a passport, a ration card, a statistic in the census, an ownership agreement on my home, a PAN card... so a voter's ID may not be such a distant dream) Maybe it will be on an electronic voting machine. Maybe my candidate will win the elections and change the world... Maybe...

But for now, I urge you guys to go out there and cast your vote, however futile you may consider the process to be.

There can be no excuses -- including the dirty dozen below -- for not voting.

They are coming to get us!

Code, forget subs, I think a lot of people will now have to start looking for fresh jobs.

So who will remain? Oh those Op-ed people! "Will Newsblaster replace human writers or editors? No. Human writers and editors provide an ability to interpret and analyze information that Newsblaster simply does not have. Human journalists make connections between facts and between events or stories that can add context to a current report. This kind of contextualization is something that Newsblaster cannot do."

I suppose there's still some hope.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

A Dirty Dozen of Excuses Not to Vote

It's election time once again in India. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur are due for the circus. Closer home in Mumbai, the fever is on for the municipal elections. A lot of us won't be voting. So, I have made a set of 12 excuses for not voting. If you can think of more, do let me know.

1) I voted last time and my candidate lost. So what's the point?
2) No one's come around yet to buy my vote.
3) I just had a manicure.
4) What if the booth gets captured when I am voting?
5) They are all devils.
6) I don't know the candidates, the contesting parties, their manifestos... You don't expect me to vote in ignorance, do you?
7) I have never come across an election that's been won or lost by one vote.
8) My cat's ill.
9) Someone stole my car.
10) I have a headache.
11) I don't know how to.
12) To hell with it...

Turning a buck with muck
Politicians weren't the only recipients of Enron's largesse. Influential journalists also got tens of thousands of dollars.

SMS on Landlines soon.

Spice Telecom subscribers in Punjab are already texting messages to landlines. The telco is in talks with operators in other cities, reports Economic Times.

God save us from mobile spammers! Imagine "boost your sex life with tigara" on your instrument at home!!!!

Guess what's the flavour of the month on eBay
Enron, that's what!

So bid for items ranging from annual reports to book of ethics, to vision and value desk cubes, teddy bears... and what have you...

There are somethings we take for granted. We never question their usability. Never wonder why they are the way they are.
Have you ever thought about your keyboard? Why was the QWERTY keyboard that most of us use invented?
In fact, the QWERTY keyboard layout is relic of an earlier age, and no longer applicable.
"Christopher Sholes, the (QWERTY) inventor, chose the layout mainly to keep frequently used letter pairs—E and D or T and H for example—relatively far apart so that typists wouldn't hit them in quick succession, jamming primitive machines."
August Dvorak, on the other hand, invented a far more usable and efficient keyboard. Read this fascinating piece on the
Dvorak keyboard from Slate Magazine.

This teen has guts of steel.

About a 100 nails were extracted from a 17-year-old Romanian girl's digestive tract.

Does distributing complimentary condoms to Olympic athletes encourage sexual promiscuity or is it a good 'safe-sex' practice?
That's what the Salt Lake Olympic Committee and some Christian conservatives are debating...

If you love animals, don't eat them.

To drive home this message, R Madhavan, a popular South Indian actor crammed himself into a tiny cage.

Michigan judge flips coin to settle dispute.

Butter is better than booze!

A milk factory in Gwalior has decided to pay workers 10 per cent of their salaries in butter. The reasoning: They would be able to feed their families better, rather than wasting their money on alcohol.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Here's something for Googlephiles: The Google Programming Contest

The Grand Prize: $10,000 in cash; VIP visit to Google Inc. in Mountain View, California; Potentially run your prize-winning code on Google's multi-billion document repository (circumstances permitting).

Outlook landed at my doorstep yesterday, a couple of days late. But I found three articles worth recommending.
Pulella Gopichand’s interview: This man’s got what it takes. Hear this. Asked what refusing the Coca-Cola contract would cost him, he says: “It is not ethical for me to go into such details. But, more importantly, when you give up something on principle then you can't weigh it against money. If I think about the cost, it is no longer a principled stand.”
Khushwant Singh’s malice: After six years of litigation with Maneka Gandhi over Truth, Love & A Little Malice, it’s worth reading these excerpts to see what the fuss was all about.
And this one’s from some one who sometimes goes by the nick Crazy Diamond (Now I know why). Anita take a bow. Your hometown is hot, happening and swinging.

Two days after my post about being a reluctant writer, I volunteered to do an article for Rediff. It's on Googlewhacking.
What prompted me to do the article was the fact that much of the media hype surrounding Googlewhacking ignored one little fact. That Googlewhacking is not a new game. I played One Hit Wonders, a twin of Googlewhacking, almost three years ago. I decided to put the record straight.
Would love to have feedback from you guys.

E-mail limits communication, creates confusion, hurts feelings

Isn't this bus driver one hell of guy...
Now that's what I would call making a difference, in whatever little way you can... if this reminds you of Chicken Soup for the Soul, so be it...

The Palestinian Vision of Peace

Yaseer Arafat, the Palestinian leader, writes an op-ed article for New York Times.

To read, you will need to register free.

Monday, February 04, 2002

File your tax returns online.

Justice at the click of a mouse

Consumers and small businesses in the UK can now use the internet to get all debts owed to them settled online -- and by a court.

Here's an application of the Net, that the consumer movement in India should really consider.

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Is this a joke or what?

The Mumbai transport commissioner has apparently ordered that all private vehicles will have to change their license plates from the current white-on-black to black-on-white by July 1.

If you don't do it, you will be fined.

The report doesn't answer the question why. If any of you can figure it out, do let me know...

For all those new to blogging, this article from Time Magazine might help.

Thanks Nidhi for the link.

I was always a reluctant writer.

Writing an article, for me, was like a visit to the dentist. Best left till the last minute.

I had to be cajoled, coaxed and threatened on the pain of death by my editors to deliver.

If anything was worse than writing an article, it was interviewing an eminent personality. Which is why the number of people I interviewed in 10 years of journalism can be counted on my finger tips... something a regular reporter would notch up in a month or two of journalism.

There was another -- more important reason -- why I didn't do much writing. I was a sub-editor. The person who did all the dirty work, got all the abuses, and, often, very little credit. But I have no regrets. That's what I enjoyed doing most.

So, what does a sub-editor do, really? Technology and specialisation have considerably reduced the burden of the sub in the modern-day newspaper office. In fact, I wouldn't be suprised if, like the proof-reader, the sub-editor too is buried by technology.

In the good ole days, the sub-editor was a manual content management system. Sub-editors had to keep a hawk's eye on the wires, which were delivered through antiquated telex machines (you would know you were in a newspaper office by their distinctive clatter), co-ordinate with in-house reporters and outstation bureaus, oversee lay-out of the pages, edit copy, decide on importance of stories, and give the headlines.

I wasn't on the newsdesk -- who, I envied, had all the fun with breaking news. I was on the features desk -- the guys who handled the softer stories like human interest, profiles, entertainment, celebrities, etc.

That's why I rarely edited copies. I rewrote them. While the newsdesk put news as its top priority, for the features desk it was style that mattered.

Some of my best work were not those I wrote under my own byline -- in fact, I was always very diffident about my own articles. But those that got credited to other writers -- from whose original article not a single word would find its way to the published version.

Constraints of space meant that we didn't have the luxury of indulging the ramblings of our writers. 2000-word articles would be hacked to tight 800-word pieces. And I often crossed swords with writers, whose egos were bruised, sometimes justifiably, by my marauding pen.

My editor once called me a butcher. All my journalistic life, I wore it like a badge of honour.

Mumbai could surely do with some of these disappearing toilets!

Why do I get the feeling that this is part of a concerted campaign to discredit MP3 file-sharing programs.
First it was AudioGalaxy. It was reported that people who had downloaded the program were actually allowing a snoop into their machines. Now, BBC reports that there's a security hole in Morpheus, which could allow any one to gain access to your private information.
If you can't get them to shut down by legal means, how about some terror tactics?
I might be flying a kite here, but I simply don't believe in coincidences.

Am I happy I am no longer a journalist.

Thanks Madhu, once again, for a good read.

Saturday, February 02, 2002

Sylvia would probably call this synchronicity.

On Saturday, I put up a post with a reference to Primal Fear, a book I had read some 10 years ago, which was subsequently made into a film.

Usually, I wouldn't be caught dead on Saturday evening surfing channels on the Telly. But last night, I was doing exactly that. And, what do you know! Primal Fear was showing on Star Movies.

I didn't watch it for long, though. Because I quickly switched to Super Selector.

When I watched it for the first time, I thought Naseeruddin Shah made a very poor host. On this show, however, the actor was in his elements. Whether it was quizzing the guests, talking cricket and movies, or taking viewers through the final countdown, Naseer did it in style.

The best thing about the show was Zakir Hussain's impromptu performance. There was no tabla. But that didn't stop India's leading percussionist and 'the sexiest man' from coaxing a superb rhythm out of -- hold your breath -- a bat and ball. What's more, he got the other guests -- Navjot Siddhu, Harsha Bhogle and Tabu -- to accompany him in the rhythmfest.

Another highlight of the show was the January winner being forcefully advised by his brother on the camera not to share their winning tips and strategies with the viewers. The whole incident was actually pretty funny. Just shows how seriously some people take the game.

I think Super Selector is one of the best game-shows to hit India. Primarily because it plays on the passions -- cricket and films -- of the people, and uses the media -- television, the Internet and even the press -- to the hilt.

I have a team -- wishfully called WinningCombination -- participating. At the moment, I am somewhere in the boondocks -- ranked below 50,000. But I have not abandoned hope.

Here's my team anyway:

Yousuf Youhana
Stephen Fleming
Darren Ganga
Michael Vaughan
Virender Shewag
Andrew Flintoff
James Foster
Shoaib Akhtar
Darren Gough
Waqar Younis
Shane Bond

Wish me luck! If I win, I promise you a gift from the Caribbean Islands.

If she were alive Marilyn Monroe would have been 75 today. How would Hollywood's most endearing face have looked at this ripe old age?
A police officer, who uses his expertise in forensic sciences and computers, offers a rare insight, through a process called "age progression".

You have had AIDS day. Friendship day. Women's day. How about a Palindromic day?

Friday, February 01, 2002

The first person I interviewed as a journalist was Rahi Masoom Reza, the scriptwriter of B R Chopra's version of the Mahabharat. I was a rookie sub with a magazine called, Onlooker, published by the Free Press Group.
I was nervous as hell, my palms were sweaty, as I was ushered into a plush room. Rahi Masoom Reza seemed to fill the room, as I sank into a sofa, losing my footing for a minute. He was pretty old, even frail I think, but there was something about him, a force of character, that made me feel very small. Or it may have been my imagination. In the periphery of my vision, I could see B R Chopra sitting in a corner, watching me.
I began nervously shuffling my papers, and mumbling my questions. He asked me to speak a bit louder, making me even more nervous. It was an ordeal, and I vowed never to do an interview again.
As the interview wound to an end, I asked him: "What other mythological epics are you working on?"
He said with a smile: "Ramanand Sagar has already done Ramayan and I have done Mahabharat, so which other epic could I be working on?"
To which, I had no answer.
My second interview was much easier. I was on familiar ground there. Dilip Vengsarkar had just been made captain for the tour of West Indies, and I was interviewing him in the stands of Wankhede Stadium.
Those were controversial times for Indian cricket. Mohinder Amarnath, considered by many as India's best bet against the Windies pacemen, had been dropped from the team. There was talk of a players union and of dissent in the Indian dressing room. Naturally, most of my questions were related to these issues. Along with me was a Sunday Observer journalist, whose questions were a lot tamer and strictly related to cricket.
Many would call Vengsarkar gauche (which is true sometimes even of his cricket). But what he is, is inarticulate (which certainly wasn't true about his batsmanship).
As the interview progressed, I could see he was getting increasingly worked up with my controversial questions. And when I asked him: "Is there dissent in the Indian ranks," he just stormed away, telling me quite categorically that he wasn't interested in talking about anything other than cricket.
The Sunday Observer journalist told me accusatorily: "You spoiled my interview!"
I turned my attention to the action in the middle. And for the first and last time in my life, I caught sight of a very, very young Sachin Tendulkar murdering some Ranji team bowlers, along with Sanjay Manjrekar.
After huddling with Raj Singh Dungarpur, the chairman of selectors, for a while, Vengsarkar called out to the Sunday Observer journalist. I remained seated. Fifteen minutes later, the journalist left, his interview done. Very reluctantly Vengsarkar approached me. He said: "If you have any cricketing questions, I will answer them. Nothing controversial please!"
And that was that.
Some others I enjoyed interviewing:
Kumar Bangarappa: Son of the former Karnataka chief minister and film actor. This was for a column called Out to Lunch for Sunday Mid-Day. I took him to a Chinese restaurant off Bangalore's M G Road, called Shogun (the choice of restaurant influenced by the fact that he was slated to star in an Indo-China or -Hong Kong production). He had absolutely no airs about him, was very polite and completely down-to-earth.
Pramod Mahajan: This was for a newspaper called The Indian Post. He was a non-entity then. And the BJP was not even a force to reckon with. I don't even remember why I interviewed him. What I remember though is that he met me at the unearthly hour of 7 am at his residence, fed me medu-wada sambhar and a lengthy spiel about Hindutva.
Madhuri Dixit: One of my favourite actresses. I met her at her residence, and shorn of make-up, she looked much better in real life than she did in movies. Got very irritated with me when I asked her about her marriage plans. "Do you ask male actors the same question?" I guess not

Teen accused of raping classmate says alter-ego did it!

This story reminds me of William Diehl Primal Fear. The chilling tale of a schizophrenic boy, who is accused of murdering a priest. A gripping courtroom drama later, the defense attorney actually proves that an alter ego did it...
The end has a dramatic twist... Get the book if you can, the movie is no patch on it.

The Web has Expired

Yesterday, I was watching some kids at play, squealing with delight... lost to the world, as traffic swirled around them...
And I was reminded of an American guest I had six months ago.
I asked him what he thought was the biggest difference between India and America. He didn't talk about the traffic, or the pollution, or the poverty, or the squalor...
Without batting an eyelid, he said: "The children here smile a lot more."

The line between ads and editorial is fast blurring online.
An interesting article on the state of the ads.

Pak Most Wanted: LK, Sunny & Bhai

In a sensational disclosure late Thursday, a highly-placed source confided in Full TP that, apart from Home Minister L K Advani, two other Indians, Plywood Ibrahim and Sunny Duel, figure in Pakistan's most wanted list.

A local newspaper reported Wednesday that a list of 'most wanted Indian criminals' compiled by the Pakistan foreign office mentioned L K Advani for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

According to the unimpeachable source (which automatically counts out the US President), Plywood is at number five on the list and Sunny weighs in at 10.

The cases against the two:
Plywood Ibrahim: The Pakistan foreign office is accusing India of exporting criminals to Pakistan with the aim of spreading terror in the country. Asked why there were not extraditing Plywood back to India, the source said that India's demand was part of a larger conspiracy, to malign Pakistan's name in the international community and absolve itself of blame. "India will just send him right back, after a while,'' he said. The source said Pakistan was looking at trying Plywood in their own courts or extraditing him to a neutral country. "But," said the source, "that is if we find him." According to him, only Outlook magazine and the Indian government seem to know where the man is hiding, and both are deliberately misleading the Pakistan government.

Sunny Duel: "He has single-handedly killed more Pakistanis than the Indian army," the source said. "Have you seen any of his movies," he asked. "It's a crime on the Pakistan population." Duel has also been accused of inflicting brain damage on children.

All attempts to contact Bhai on the email address provided by Outlook magazine were futile. A reply from Bhai was intercepted and deleted by the server because it contained a 'I Love You India" virus -- which, according to Symantec, is capable of blowing a computer to bits.

Full TP, however, managed to get through to Sunny's PA. Asked what he thought about Sunny's inclusion in the Pak most wanted, the PA said: "It's really nice to know that Sunny is popular across the border, too..."
So, what do they plan to do about it? "Oh lots of things... We have hired a historian to research freedom fighters... Sunny will be playing one every year... so far, we have got 27 of them...
"Wait a minute... I think Sunny's here...
With that, he puts me on hold... First, Jana Gana Mana begins to play over the line... a few minutes later, Vande Mataram begins...
Half an hour later, my ears ringing with cries of Jai He and Vande Mataram, I hang up.

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