Saturday, June 29, 2002

Baby bomber pic raises row.

Parents leave babies in toy stores, save money on baby-sitters.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Enetation lets you add the comments facility to your blog.

I hate to play spoilt-sport to all those who have been waxing poetic about the rains. Here's why we get that wonderful smell after a burst of showers

Monday, June 24, 2002

You know you are getting old when a twinge in your chest rings alarm bells...

...And you heave a sigh of relief when the doc gives you an antacid

Has Plastic been hacked?

Just checked it. And in ascii characters is a message Please Stand By... signed your pal Carl?

Update: Madman says Carl must be Carl Steedman, and Plastic may have been down for some maintenance. It's back up again.

Why not listen to the message instead of shooting the messenger?

A good take on the government's reaction to Alex Perry's article in the Time Magazine.

After promising so much in the preliminary stages, the World Cup, at least as far as I am concerned, disappointed in the knock-out stages. Though, upsets continued to be the norm, the football certainly was a lot more defensive. Two goal-less draws in regulation time on Saturday was a bit too much for me (apart of course, from calling all the results wrong). When Brazil promises to play pragmatic football, you can be sure the cup is losing its froth.
I hope the semis pack in some attacking football.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Search for truth: New technology for catching liars could put more people's honesty to the test.

Sodium Amytal ('Truth Serum') being administered to Godhra carnage accused

I think this is a big story. Because, sodium amytal is a psychiatric medication, not a truth serum.

Here's some stuff from the Michael Jackson case.

"It's a psychiatric medication that cannot be relied on to produce fact," says Dr. Resnick, a Cleveland psychiatrist. "People are very suggestible under it. People will say things under sodium Amytal that are blatantly untrue." Sodium Amytal is a barbiturate, an invasive drug that puts people in a hypnotic state when it's injected intravenously.

"Primarily administered for the treatment of amnesia, it first came into use during World War II, on soldiers traumatized -- some into catatonic states -- by the horrors of war. Scientific studies done in 1952 debunked the drug as a truth serum and instead demonstrated its risks: False memories can be easily implanted in those under its influence."

Here's more reading on the subject.

Friday, June 21, 2002

What's that stuff filling your cavity?

Well, it's a phone and radio rolled in one.

CNet catches the World Cup fever, as it weighs the rants and raves over US's campaign is Japorea.

Salon's review of Minority Report.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Newsweek scores World Cup own goal.
Newsweek, one of America's most authoritative and prestigious magazines, has committed what is possibly the biggest gaffe in its history with a cover story declaring the World Cup a disaster

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Hollywood Reporter review of Minority Report

Being Tom Cruise

Time Magazine cover on Tom Cruise, who celebrates his 40th birthday and stars in Spielberg's Minority Report

Miracle temple offers 'strength' to soldiers


An article in The Independent, London singing hosannas to the pleasures of Bollywood.

Some interesting perspectives, here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

How to drive a Royal Enfield across the Himalayas

Yeh Bullet meri jaan!

Internet activist gets under skin of anti-porn filterers

Bennett Haselton helps minors disable filtering programs designed to block Web sites that their parents deem offensive or pornographic though his site Peacefire.
While Haselton is a hero to some Web-savvy minors, he's something of a supervillain to filtering advocates.

Can people send signals after they die. Researchers clash over whether science has the answers.

I certainly don't. And I am not buying other people's answers till I get there myself and send a few signals to scare the hell out you guys remaining out here.

Nigeria Hoax Spawns Copycats

The Nigerian bank account scam, one of the best-known e-mail frauds, is taking on new forms. Recent versions involve a US commando and a World Trade Center survivor, among others.

Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid

Scholars finally tackle the question that has plagued humanity since time immemorial.

Indian Government trashes Time magazine article on Vajpayee

Monday, June 17, 2002

The Samta Party has condemned this Time Magazine article (at least, I am presuming it is this).
I don't quite see what is wrong with it, except the fact that Time magazine -- and not an Indian publication -- has published it.
Much of it has already been talked about for months now in the Indian press, save an embellishment or two.
And here's the really funny part: "(Nitish) Kumar said that we never expect such writing from Indian media because 'Indian media is a responsible media'."
He must have a pretty short memory. Because in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, the media was branded anything but responsible.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Remember the game we played as kids called connect the dots. Check out whether you can do better than the American intelligence agencies at the game.

New computer virus can infect picture files, making it the first of its kind. Before you begin worrying about sharing family photos, here's some good news: it's not yet started it's infectious run.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Bill/Steve's Sexcellent Adventure

"In real life, Bill Gates screwed Steve Jobs and everyone else in the computer industry.

But in Slash fiction, it's Steve Jobs who gets to screw Bill Gates -- literally."

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Competition for Mid-Day?

The latest Business Today had an interesting piece of information, buried rather innocuously in an article analysing the merits of various media and entertainment stocks. In its analysis of the Mid-Day Multimedia stock, the article says the newspaper company might face competition in the afternoon paper space from the Times Group and the Living Media group (which owns Business Today and India Today and, if I am not mistaken, Metro in Delhi(?). Of course such rumours have been doing the rounds for a long, long time. But this comes straight from the horses' mouth, so there must be some truth in it.
Surely, Mumbai's hordes of commuters could do with a little variety. But can either of these really dent Mid-Day? There certainly is an opportunity. It's going to be tough, but not difficult -- the war for market share is going to be fought on the trains and streets of the city rather than in the reader's minds.
Let's see...

Search Tutorial

I came across the newest avatar of this great search tutorial today. It was earlier part of Mata Hari, a now defunct desktop search tool, at least it no longer exists by that name. But it's stilll pretty relevant.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Dog-noseis for prostrate cancer

"Researchers at Cambridge University Veterinary School in England are awaiting funding to test the viability of what they call "dognoseis" — detecting the traces of prostate cancer by training dogs to smell signatures of the disease in urine samples."

From my living room window I can see a bunch of gulmohar trees. They light up the skyline in flaming orange. The colour is now slowly draining out.

The seasons are changing.

BBC's news site has been down most of the day.
Wonder what their problems are?

Yahoo! is beta testing this new design?

What do you guys think?

I, for one, think the web site directory is a waste of prime real estate. I wonder if people really click through a directory to find stuff or just use keywords to search. Of course a directory is necessary. But I think it should come into play after you have searched (like in Google, which uses the DMOZ directory)

Danish publishers challenge linking to Web sites

Soon, the very raison d'etre of bloggers will be an illegal activity.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Keystrokes of Genius

An article about authors in love with their typewriters. If it came to a toss-up between their typewriters and their spouse, they would readily give up the latter.

A Rift Among Bloggers

Warblogs V Old Guard

Nineteen die after drinking cologne in Saudi Arabia

Saturday, June 08, 2002

A good thread on K5 about the problems with science reporting in mainstream media.

India's New Stumper: Parthiv Patel

The newest find behind the wickets for India. He's will soon be winging way to England for the forthcoming tests. And he's just 16.

Forging a career in art

A convicted forger who conned the world's greatest art experts for years is to have his own exhibition -- of fakes -- a British gallery owner said on Friday.

MTV Site Scoops Its Own Channel

The suspense had been palpable: Who would be the big winners in MTV's movie awards? Too bad the list had been on its website for days.

China Paper Bites on Onion Gag

"Beijing's most popular newspaper has unwittingly republished a bogus story about US Congress threats to skip town for Memphis or Charlotte unless Washington builds them a new Capitol building with a retractable dome."

This is funnier than Onion's spoof.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Sify had a double spread ad in Business Today. The first thing I check in an ad -- it's almost a reflex -- is the Web site address.
The address on this ad was: I was intrigued. Sifycorp, I assumed, would be the corporate site. So why would Sify want to send users to a page within the domain. I would rather have users hit my homepage, and ensure that information I consider important is easily accessible from it. And how many would actually remember the /corporate.
So I first checked (which true to its name is the corporate site, but I could find no link leading me to the /corporate page). Then I headed directly to The page redirects to, with information on its enterprise solutions. Now, wouldn't it have been so much easier if they had provided the address instead of, in the first place.
The logic beats me, especially when it comes from a company which says "making the Internet work for you".

I find the political cricus in Maharashtra laughable. The twin partners are busy whisking their representatives out of the city (in chartered flights, paid by you and me of course): Congress to Bangalore, and Sharad Pawar's NCP to Indore. The reason: to keep them away from temptation.
This does tell me a few things:
The party doesn't trust its own.
Their faithful are open to coercion and corruption (do I hear a chorus of "tell me a new one"!).
That till the cattle parade before the governor, people in this state will have to do without many of their elected representatives (a lot of them would say good riddance, though).
Horse-trading is passe. It is naive for people to expect that such things don't take place. But that's precisely what is most worrying. The fact that politics is a dirty word -- and expecting anything better is naivete.

How I Realized The Internet Bubble Was A Pyramid Scheme

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

A case of the the right hand not knowing what the left is doing

Vajpayee proposes joint patrolling at Almaty.
The next day, Defence Minister George Fernandes rules out joint patrolling as an option.

(Update) Cat Among the Pigeons:
Guess what. Veeresh stayed true to his word. This morning there were two mails from Hyundai officials promising an audit of the service centre and my car since it was purchased three years ago. The story unfolds...

Sending your car to a service station is so much like putting your life in the hands of doctor. I mean, I wouldn't be able to tell between a saline drip and an injector fluid (just kidding, but you get the idea).

The only difference is at least you can trust your doctor.

Once every four months, I send my car to an authorised Hyundai Service Station. The basic service charge is Rs 450. They call it labour charges. I don't know what that covers because they charge me for everything under the moon over and above that. By the time I take my car back -- after they have tinkered with a bunch of filters, tighetened some nuts and bolts, filled it up with liquids of every shade, and given it a good wash (which our watchman does everyday for Rs 150 a month), the bill has soared to 1500.

Yesterday, it was that time of the year again. And there was bad news. They said the muffler on my silencer (why a silencer would need an additional muffler beats me -- it's a tautology, if ever there was one :) had rotted, and will have to be replaced. Total damages, after service: Rs 5900 :(
Then something happened that made my day. I sent a mail to Veeresh Malik, a car columnist. Frankly, I didn't expect a reply. But I just wanted to do something about my helplessness with cars. The first mail waiting for me this morning in my inbox was from Veeresh (such promptness should put many of our customer service cells to shame). He empathised with my predicament, and felt that the muffler shouldn't have rotted in three years, adding that in equally saline and coastal countries Hyundai offered a six-year comprehensive warranty on its mufflers. He also promised to forward my mail to a Hyundai official.
It was not so much that he took the time -- and trouble -- to answer a personal query that made me happy. But the fact that there are very few people who are willing to share what they know -- with people they don't know.
Finally, I can't really blame the service centres. But my own ignorance about cars. If you are too lazy or unwilling to learn, you have to pay the price. It's really a tough call :)

What's in my bookmarks?

Over the years of surfing, I have accumulated a prize collection of links. I don't even go through a quarter of them in a day, but they sit there in my favourites folder triggering bouts of reading anxiety.
I am too lazy to link all of them, but most of you guys would know it anyway.

On my toolbar: Blogdex, BlogThis, Daypop, iTools, Mefi, OJR, Railway Time Table, Morever, Exam Results.

In my tech folder:, Wired, Salon (don't ask me why it's in the tech folder), Zdnet (need to take that off) and Silicon Valley.. (a few bloggers will wonder why reg doesn't feature... keep wondering :)

In my news folder: ABCnews, CNN, CSMonitor, Drudge, Alternet (I had many more folders like alternative, science and stuff like that, but i cleaned them up and bunged them all into one now), Guardian, New Scientist, SciAm, K5, Plastic, Independent, LAtimes, MSNBC, NYTimes, Reuters, SCMP, Sydney Morning Herald, USA Today, WP, digitalMass at, Houston Chronicle, Sacbee, Fark, FEER, RobotWisdom, IndyStar, SFGate and Guess the surprising omission though I visit it most often?
(note: some days I start accessing them from the top, never get beyond the sixth site, so some days I start from the bottom, and sometimes just check the middle. I just scan the home page and head directly for their tech sections :)

In my Mags folder (which I access maybe once a week): Economist, OutlookIndia, The Atlantic, The Week, Slate, Frontline, Time, USNews, Esquire, New Yorker, Tehelka, Forbes, Variety, First Monday.

A new addition to my folders is Soccer and it's growing daily: BBC Football, Football365, CNNSI-World Cup, Soccernet-World Cup, Guardian-Football, Japan Today-World Cup, Slam Sports World Cup, CBS Sportsline Soccer, Sports Telegraph, SportingNews-Soccer, SoccerGlobe, Morever-World Cup, NYTimes-World Cup, Time-World Cup, Reuters-World Cup, Yahoo News-Full Coverage World Cup and Annanova-World Cup.

There are also flashes in the pan, links which come and go. Right now, there's,, SciAm's SciTech Web Awards,, FAQ on Calorie Restriction To Retard Aging, and Mindjack.

If any of you want to know the links to the sites, I would be happy to send it across for free :)

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

A good take on money by Gautam Chikermane in the latest edition of Intelligent Investor.

"...we either think that money is God, to be worshipped, or the Devil, to be damned. Trapped as we are in a society where the value of a human being is measured by the wealth he has, most of our thoughts and deeds -- from the choice of a career to our sense of self-worth -- are geared to the accumulation of wealth... Living in this perversion, we forget that money is neither the Almighty nor the Devil. Money is a medium of exchange, a measure and store of value, a standard that unites society. Money can be created, invested, spent and shared. It is one of the tools, perhaps the most widely used tool, of communication and transaction in modern society. It can be used, productively or otherwise -- and abused.

To understand how much value your life holds for others, think about how many lives your death will make a difference to.
I did. I thought long and hard, as honestly as I could.
My mom? Certainly, she would grieve deeply. But, eventually, she will find solace and strength in her surviving sons and, with time, joy in her grandchildren. She is also buffered by the distance -- geographical and emotional -- that I have put between us since I left her care to find my own feet.
The family that I was born into? They will react immediately with shock and sorrow. Memories will be dredged, and a few tears shed. But, beyond a point, life will go on as usual.
My friends? They will miss me for a while, and may even swap their favourite stories about me from our shared past. That's about as far as it would go.
In this whole wide world that I share with a few billion people and countless other forms of life, I realised my death will make a real difference to only one person -- the person I have chosen to live with till that happens.
It's one hell of a humbling thought.

PS: What set me off was late night solitary viewing of Oliver Stone's Platoon.

India's own K5?

Facing the Music

"Rock stars and music-industry execs once ruled the earth, but now -- in terms of size and profit margins -- the music industry is becoming the book business (minus the literacy)."

A good take on how the Internet -- and Napster -- have changed the dynamics.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

The truth about John Lennon's murder

What's the connection between horror writer Stephen King and the Beatles's assassination?

Steve Lightfoot promises to reveal all in a 24-page booklet. Actually it's quite an old conspiracy theory.

If you are gullible, it makes a great story. If you are sceptic, get a few laughs.

The Elderly Man and the Sea?

And we thought censorship of textbooks was the preserve of the Sangh Parivar.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Recipe for Victory: Hard Work and Pigeon Blood

Juju men, traditional healers who accompany African teams as advisors, won't be offering tips on game strategy. "Their job will be to facilitate a win by discreetly scattering charms on the field, putting hexes on opponents and smearing their teams' goalposts with magic potions to keep the ball out."

Shades of Harry Potter.

Google takes top prize in its own contest.

So, what's the big deal. I think it's quiet a neat way to get your job done.

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