Sunday, March 31, 2002

Dutch legalise euthanasia
The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to legalise mercy killing when a controversial law on euthanasia comes into force on Monday.

A fascinating story about how beef is made in the US.
It's seven pages long and in places quite boring. But it's worth the read.

Man, this must be the biggest heist of all time!

A thief stole a 3000-pound, 30-foot, in-ground swimming pool. Now there's a $2000 reward for information leading to the culprit.

My advice: Check the backyards!

April Fool's Day 1582 onwards.
Have a great day.

Do you have an artist in you? Try your hand at art online by making your own masterpiece

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Excellent essay on how the law of averages builds a case for the existence of God.

Friday, March 29, 2002

The Silicon Zoo: A fascinating look at the creatures lurking in chips, including a Pepsi Ad in a HP CPU-support integrated circuit.

Students asked to write essay on ethics. That's the subject they were least qualified to write on. And 31 of them did the next best thing: they plagiarised their essays from the Net

Yahoo users fume over "spam" switch

"The ire stems from changes in Yahoo's "marketing preferences" page, which the company uses to secure permission to send service promotions... Yahoo said it had reset the default preferences for all members in a way that would require them to manually request that the company block the messages in the future -- even if they had declined to accept such e-mail in the past."


Thursday, March 28, 2002

A Brilliant Madness: The True Story of John Nash.

There's a timber mart right outside my office gates. The shop is pretty strategically located, because some distance away is a crematorium, and round the year it gets its business from the dear ones of our departed. But today the dead will have to wait. There's a serpentine queue of rickshaw-tempos outside the shop, buying firewood for Holi.

Drivers License Search

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

There’s been a lot of talk about music piracy, and how file-swapping denies musicians and record companies their due.
Maybe. But my experience with MP3s and music downloading has been quite contrary. In fact, I have given music companies and artistes a lot more business simply because of the free downloads available.
Let me explain. I have downloaded lots of music. Mostly from audiogalaxy. I rarely listen to them either on my office PC or my home computer. What I download from the web are songs of artistes recommended to me, usually those I haven’t heard. I sample them. If I like it, I head for the nearest music shops and buy CDs or cassettes of that artiste, based on the condition of my wallet. No MP3 can quite match the quality I get from a CD on my system.
I discovered Jagjit Singh on the Net, after which I have collected CDs of almost every album of his. Then I tried Mehdi Hassan. I liked what I heard. And went and bought a couple of cassettes to begin with. I plan to boost my collection soon. I am now on to Abida Parveen… Simon and Garfunkel… (I know, I know, my music tastes are just maturing :)
Without MP3s, I would never have bothered with these artistes. And I am sure there are many out there like me.

Googleblog: Search firm gets into weblogging

That's what Internet News titles its article on Google's new News Search Service. Is this classically a blog? It's just another search service that scans news sites, like say a Moreover, instead of web sites. How does this become a blog? By that definition, all search engines are blogs...

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

The only comparable performance to Russell Crowe’s John Nash that comes to my mind is Dustin Hoffman’s Rainman. And Crowe’s portrayal of a schizophrenic mathematical genius in A Beautiful Mind is far superior. I am surprised he didn’t win the Best Actor award at the Oscars.
I saw Gladiator about a year ago. Crowe is not only a completely different character in A Beautiful Mind, he is a completely changed man. The transformation is astounding.
He is John Nash. And he is A Beautiful Mind.
A story of a man who is as difficult to understand as the theories he propounds. Crowe draws you into his vulnerable world that constantly flits between the real and the imaginary. Your heart goes out to him as he fights the demons of his mind. And, you are uplifted, when he finally finds a way through the labyrinthine maze to discover that the only place he can find reason is not in his brilliant, yet flawed, mind, but in his heart; not in the cold logic of numbers but in the sublime equation of love.
Enough said. Go watch it.

I think there’s a glut of money in the market. I have got calls from three leading multinantional banks in the space of one week. And all of them want to give me their money.
Thanks, but no thanks!

Why do faith, sex and laughter make such an unhappy menage a trois?.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Am I the only one, or has VSNL become horribly slow. Over the last week, there has been a perceptible drop in its speeds... and the new number 172226 that promised faster speeds has still not made good on it...

How Flash, bad CSS implementation, and pop-ups are killing web usability, and driving users away.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

Musharraf warns India against 'misadventure'

Pakistan has been warning India of misadventures for a long time. If you need proof check out this link from RediffSearch, and this, and finally this

Brinkmanship, jingoism and very little effort on the ground to do anything but issue cross-border threats... I am really tired of all this... and someday this brigadier might just get his death wish!

Ayodhya (at number 1) and Gujarat (at number 6) make the Top 10 searches on Daypop.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Last evening, I got an answering machine at home. Like all new gizmos that come into my house, and my wife never tires pointing it out, I tinkered with it like a “child with a new toy” (my wife’s words, not mine) well into the night. Setting it up, discovering its wonders, scripting the outgoing message, rehearsing how to say the words, and finally getting freaked out hearing my own voice. It sounded strange and alien. My voice had a distinct accent, and was extremely self-conscious. Is that how I sound? Or do machines do strange things to human voice? I guess it takes a lot of getting used to talking to a machine.

If you have my number, call me at home and leave me a message. Don’t laugh your silly heads off, or I will kill you :)

Sunday, March 17, 2002

The Lord of the Rings is one big disappointment.
I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why reviewers have been giving it more stars than you can count on a clear night, and why the Academy Awards have handed it 13 nominations.
It’s got great special effects and top bracket production values. But beyond that there is little to recommend in LoTR.
I am not one for great cinema which conveys subliminal messages. I want entertainment. And that’s where the movie fails me.
The first half is pretty good, as the film introduces the viewer to the history of the ring, the unlikely hero on whom it falls to destroy it, and the motley fellowship that will protect him on his perilous journey.
The second half degenerates into an inordinate obstacle race, filled with gore and violence and the grotesque and the macabre. These lines from a review in Chicago Tribune sums it up pretty well: "The film is remarkably well made. But it does go on, and on, and on--more vistas, more forests, more sounds in the night, more fearsome creatures, more prophecies, more visions, more dire warnings, more close calls, until we realise this sort of thing can continue indefinitely."
At the end of it all, you don’t even get a feeling of catharsis, and in fact you leave the theatre with an incomplete feeling.
I didn’t even realise the movie had ended till the doorman flung the doors open. Neither did most of the crowd, who had the kind of look that said: Is this it!

Saturday, March 16, 2002

The day is not far when you would get beer on tap from your PC.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Soundbug turns flat surface into speakers

Cool and Amazing. The Soundbug can be plugged into the headphone socket of, for example, an MP3 player or a Walkman and then fixed by suction to a flat surface -- effectively turning a desk or window into a speaker.

Man allowed to keep ATHEIST license plate.

No thanks to god for this one.

Bush to dump nuclear waste in quake zone

President George Bush has approved a plan to move 77,000 tons of nuclear waste from around the country to a storage area under the Yucca Mountain, home to 33 earthquake faultlines.

Check out this link to find out how destructive thermonuclear weapons could be.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

And thereby hangs a tail...

An 11-month-old baby boy with a 4-inch long tail born to a Muslim family in Khera, Chandigarh, is being revered by Hindus as a reincarnation of Lord Hanuman.

The baby hailed as Bajrangbali (Lord Hanuman) has been attracting hundreds of devotees who seek his blessings and offer cash, jewellery and expensive clothes.

If you are an atheist in Florida, don't mention it on your license plate. The state doesn't like it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

A friend tells me that religion is the root cause of our present troubles. Many seem to agree with him, post the Gujarat riots. I beg to disagree.
I am by no means a religious person. I neither believe nor disbelieve in the concept of God. I just don’t have an opinion either way.
And though fellow blogger, Sylvia, advocates reason, I see no reason to reason that one out. It simply doesn’t matter to me whether God exists or not.
If there were no religion, we would have probably invented something else similar to it. Humans, by their very nature, crave to belong. Religion is just one of the groups that we belong to. Battles have been fought over territory, language, ideologies, caste, class, gender…
These are layers of our identity, defining us. Like piles of woollens in winter, these layers make us feel warm and secure. We will repel any perceived or real threat to any of these layers with all our might.
So, how can we blame religion, when we are fundamentally divisive in nature?
I think religion is simply a scapegoat. A fig leaf for our natural prejudices. By blaming religion we absolve ourselves, and deny our fundamental nature: which is to differentiate, to distinguish, to belong to one or another group…

Slate tricked into publishing fictitious diary about the life of an automobile executive called Robert Klinger. Slate is now in search of the non-existent man, and also has an article on not being spoofed.

And, wonder of wonders, behind it all appears to be an "Indian": Ravi Desai! Fact or fiction...
This is one interesting story...

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

An interesting topic: Can men and women be just friends?. And have long-term platonic relationships?

Monday, March 11, 2002

Would you call a show of skinless corpses art?

To me, it borders on necrophilia. But then I have always been a philistine.

A great article on how the mighty Coca-Cola has fallen.
Requires free registration.

Good thread on about Google refusing ads from gun and knife advertisers.

Don't take off your socks! This man may steal them.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Have you guys seen the latest LG Television ad?
A classroom is having a general knowledge quiz. The teacher shoots off three questions, and one smart kid answers them all "correctly". A classmate gapes at him in wonder.
After the class the classmate asks the smart kid how he knows all the answers.
"I watch television."
The classmate, who wears spectacles, complains that his mom doesn't allow him to watch TV because it's bad for the eyes. The smart kid says, buy an LG Television.
One of the questions is: What is a Koala?
And the kid answers: An Australian bear!
Now, the last I heard, Koala is a marsupial, like the Kangaroo. Unless some genetic interbreeding has happened since, I am sure it still is a marsupial.
Sylvia tells me that a couple of online Encyclopaedias she checked, like, too call it a bear. So I am not surprised an Indian ad agency did likewise.
For me these Wildlife Fact Sheet from settles the issue.
Moral of the story: Don't trust dumb ads, and don't trust online encyclopaedias either. Trust me :)

Saturday, March 09, 2002

Slaughter in the Name of God

Salman Rushdie on the Gujarat riots

Friday, March 08, 2002

Is the US Army dumb, or what?

A computer specialist was charged with operating a sex show Web site on a high-speed line which he got the US army to pay for by telling them it was used for communicating with forces in Bosnia.

Boring sex 'becoming global problem'

Like, we didn't have enough of them already!

Thursday, March 07, 2002

All you fans of Dilbert comics here's a cool game called: Whose phone is ringing?

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Bookies bet on Gujarat riots, 70 arrested

According to this report, some Rajasthan bookies even spread rumours about the riots to ramp up the gambling...

How much lower can we go?

AnswerBus Question Answering System

This one is streets ahead of Ask Jeeves when it comes to answering natural language queries. Try it... I think it's pretty cool.

I asked... Will Lagaan win an Oscar? Check out the first answer!

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

The man who adds some life and colour to Google's homepage.

Monday, March 04, 2002

What our sleeping postures reveal about us...

Sunday, March 03, 2002

I liked Indian Express's coverage of the Gujarat violence. Not for the depth and breadth of its reportage. But simply because it scruplously avoided naming communities in its reports -- not even euphemistically.

That's the way it should be.

A mob is a mob. It knows no religion. Just the frenzy of the moment. Many of them are just lumpen and criminal elements out to loot and relieve their frustrations by inflicting outrage on helpless people. The media shouldn't tar any community for the actions of a few: be it the people who burnt down the Sabarmati Express or the mobs that ravished Gujarat.

When we report on crime, the denomination of the perpetrator hardly matters. And the violence in Gujarat is nothing but a crime waged against innocent people and the state itself.

If it has anything to do with religion, I guess we all will have to disown our faiths.

A picture that tells it better than a thousand words.

Saturday, March 02, 2002

Washington Post ignores the trouble in Gujarat on its homepage, while The New York Times leads with it.
CNN, BBC and Los Angeles Times all reported the news quite prominently. So why didn't it merit importance in WP?

Why Google loves weblogs.


Google gets into distributed computing.

A new feature on the Google Toolbar will allow some scientists at Stanford University to use your computer's idle capacity to understand the structure of proteins.

But the interesting thing is Google may in future use it to improve its own services.

Friday, March 01, 2002

Was William Shakespeare merely a front man for Christopher Marlowe, the flamboyant gay genius and shadowy spy?

A new documentary revives an old controversy.

West Bengal police have nabbed the alleged organiser of the attack on Sabarmati Express, who was trying to sneak out of the country into Bangladesh. The detainee was a commander of the Muslim radical group Harkat-ul Jehad-e-Islami.

Three months into her marriage Sri Lankan woman discovers her husband is actually a woman.

She has now filed for divorce.

Employees don't believe US has closed down its new disinformation office.

Funny. Spoof.

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