Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Please save the Chimpanzee

It is perhaps a defeatist cause to be writing something like this on a blog that is hardly read. But I have nothing to lose.
See this.
I'm not being all emotional here about the cuteness of the animal or something. We are wiping off several species everyday anyways, and I shut up and mind my business. But the chimpanzee is our closest relative, and a critical element in understanding our own evolution, and our nature. We just cannot afford to wipe off such a species! Too much information is lost in the process. Of course we can clone them or breed them like we do chickens and preserve them. But that alters behavioral patterns tremendously from when they are in the wild. So while it may help with structural and genetic studies, it destroys considerable behavioral information I think. So I mechanically signed here. I'm feeling kinda desperate right now, so I won't even urge you. Its just some rant.

I also sometimes imagine a world without animals. But I suppose I'll never live to see that day. So its all good.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Because I'm stranded

My advisor has left for home and is on a two week vacation starting yesterday. That kills all incentive to work because things were already pretty relaxed at work and I was under no deadline pressures. I am reading a book which I enthusiastically took to lab this morning thinking I'd read it there. But we made other plans, and the book is in lab, and I'm at home now. Its too late and too cold for me to go all the way to lab and get it. So I have nothing to do. Hence I'm going to try one of those ramble posts.

I had finished the work for some paper a little ahead of the thanksgiving deadline that my professor had assigned. So that tuesday I was totally idle, and my labmate and friend was bored. The advisor had left for some conference out of campus and would be heading home. He was in the thanksgiving mood already it seemed. So friend and I decided to catch a matinee by slipping out of lab. At the ticket counter, I flashed my asu id in the hope of getting the usual student discount. The issuer replied, "Sir, the matinee tickets are already at the discounted rates so we don't offer any further discount." Embarassed, I slipped my id back in and bought the tickets. As we stepped in, I realised why they were already discounted: There was not a single person in the entire multiplex which had almost 14 screens! That was a little eerie. My friend and I were laughing at ourselves and our vettiness for having come to a matinee movie on a tuesday! Anyhow, we had bought tickets for this movie called Madagascar, which turned out to be a movie which even Miss teen south carolina would find dumb. We were 15 minutes ahead of time and when we took a peak inside the theatre, there was no one! Naturally. So we idled away the time by looking at the various new movies to be released on all the 14 screens in the next month or so. About 5 minutes prior to the movie we entered the theatre again, and to our mortification saw three young blonde kids, and their parents staring at us two young men in disbelief! I literally ran out of the room at top speed because I had burst out laughing at our awkward situation! After uncontrolled riotous laughter for almost 10 minutes, my friend and I decided that it would be best if we kept our faces down and quickly moved to the last row of seats and slid down on our seats and stayed that way till the end of the movie. As we walked in, I burst out laughing again and walked in only after another 5 mintues, while my friend managed to make it successfully.

Today was another such day. No advisor, no work. Labmate/friend and I decided to go hiking on a mountain range in the phoenix area. We took friend's roommate along too. He's this stupid, impulsive and hence hilarious character. Friend and I were going to look for directions on google maps when be butts in declaring he's been to the starting point before and hence knows the directions! We ask him for reassurance at least 10 times and are still skeptical. He's one of those show off types. Anyways, we didn't want to offend him, because he's also one of those short-tempered types. So we decided to take him on faith and hit the streets. We decided to lunch before starting the trek as we were hungry. So I had taken a gallon of water from my home because I drink a lot of water in general and the last thing I want is to fall short of water on a trek. My friend knew about it but his roommate didn't. So we are sitting there and lunching and his roommate declares, "We forgot to get water for the trek." Before I could let him know that I'd brought a gallon he impulsively blurts: "But that's ok. We can asked for a sealed cup of water at the counter." Happily, I ROFLed inside my head at this precious gem! I was imagining us carrying sealed coffee cups filled with water in one hand and trying to do a trek which is rated as strenous! See:
Summit Trail. ( Echo Canyon)
Trail ascends through spectacular sandstone rock formations and unparalled views from the summit into Greater Phoenix.

Trail Length: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,264 feet
Summit: 2,704 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous

It turned out we had to use both hands at several places as there were some really steep climbs. Let alone that we ended up needing a lot more than just one sealed coffee cup of water!
Anyways, so we finished lunch and headed of towards the mountains following this chap's directions. As we approached the mountains, he got confused. I said, we should call someone up and ask for directions to the parking. He said, "No dude. That's not necessary. We can see the mountains right. Let's just head towards it and we should be there." Ahem, a mountain range extends over several miles and all roads in phoenix probably lead to the mountain range ultimately. He then started pointing to random houses and saying they looked familiar and he had a strong gut feeling we were on the right track. So friend and I humoured him and we continued on. Eventually we realised we took a road that was actually climbing up the hill! Not exactly our idea of trekking. So after going about a quarter of the way to convince him that his familiar houses were perhaps deceiving him, we took a u-turn and headed back down. Eventually, I got off the car and trespassed into some private mansion, where a dog charged at me and was stopped only by the owner closing the gate just in time, and took directions on how to get there. It sucked that we couldn't all go up together. The friend's roommate gave up at 1/3rd of the way. Friend gave up at half way and asked me to go ahead. I was determined to finish for having taken all this trouble to get here. So I marched on and got to the top. It wasn't all that bad. Friend meanwhile managed to gather some determination and made it 3/4ths of the way. So I met him on the way down and at least down part we did together. It started raining on our way down and the rocks became a little slippery, so that made it somewhat tricky to climb down these steep rocks. Turns out even a monolayer of water is sufficient to make palpable difference to friction coefficient. Friend twisted ankle on one of those slippery rocks. That's not good.

I saw moonam pakkam over the weekend. Thilakan was brilliant as always. I realised that Jagathy can act as more than just a goofy idiot. He was impressive in the movie. I also realised what happens if one creates a movie/story where the main character is killed mid-way. It started off realistic and interesting. Everything upto the killing of the main character was nice. Tragedy in movies is rare, and hence appealing to me. But when the rest one hour was spent in different people taking turns crying it taxed me emotionally, and when they took turns staring at the sea in the hope of spotting a dead body, it taxed me intellectually. Its like having a one hour cookery show and completing the preparation of the dish in half an hour. The rest half hour being spent on showing different people chewing on the food.

Good, so I've killed time and can now go to sleep and pick up that book tomorrow. That reminds me, library has been giving me hell. About a month back I got a notice to return a book called 'Digest of catholic mission history'! I went to them and said, I'd never issued such a book. I also hinted that they could take a look at the other books I'd had issued to rest any doubts they might have on my claims. They agreed to do three searches in their library to see if they can spot it(don't ask me why three!). They've done that and not found the book. So now i've got a notice to pay up for a book I never took!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Evolution isn't evolved!

Stupid evolution! Why the hell did nature lose wings along the way?! Couldn't there have been some random mutations to permit growth of hands on top of the wings? And all creatures subsequent to birds retained those wings? You know where I'm headed? Yes, I could've been flying now, damn it!!

On second thoughts, if that did happen, would there have been too many flying creatures then making me feel so damn bored of flying about with all those other stupid creatures?

Who knows!

Monday, December 08, 2008

2 minute crash course in cooking

I'd bought a can of condensed mushroom soup this weekend. Having returned home late from lab I wasn't in the mood for a full fledged dinner. Thought I'd make the soup. Here's how I did it:

1) Place a large empty vessel on the stove and turn the flame to maximum so that the soup will be ready in 2 minutes to eat!

2)Then, get down to washing a ladle with which to stir the soup, and a spoon with which to empty the condensed can of soup into the vessel.

3) Read the instructions on the back of the can. All this while the pan is still on maximum with nothing in it.

4) Read the following instruction: Heat soup + 1 can of milk. Also read that it serves 4 people.

5) Wonder if I should really be emptying a one gallon can of milk into just 10 ounce of condensed soup.

6) Decide wisely against it but pour 5 cups anyways so that it can be had twice.

7) Dig around in the fridge for some veggies to make the soup tasty.

8) Find a huge bag of cole slaw veggies lying around and discover with considerable shock that it is one whole day past expiry.

9) Decide to get creative and quickly empty the whole bag into the soup only to realise there's so much cabbage it rises to twice the height of the soup which already has 5 cups of milk in it.

10) Decide there's just way too much milk already and wisely avoid adding any more water.

11) Go sit in front of TV while milk reaches a boil and ask roommate whether one should really be adding a one gallon can of milk to just 10 ounce of consensed soup??

13) Get the following response: One can milk implies fill the empty soup can with milk and pour once!

14) Lavish praise on roommate's intellgence.

15) Comment on the stench that always arises from cabbage.

16) Realise that its not the stench of cabbage but a strong burning smell.

17) Run hastily to switch off gas.

18) Empty half the unnameable unsightly uninhalable mess into a bowl and attempt to taste it.

19) Burn tongue.

20) Wait a minute and taste again.

21) Retch.

22) Make realisations:

Realise that it is the milk that burns if flame is on maximum. Cabbage doesn't.

Realise that cabbage too burns given enough time.

Realise that a pound of cabbage in half a gallon of burnt milk+condensed mushroom soup is not quite creativity.

23) Take consolation in the fact that it was all done in 2 minutes at any rate! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An idea

It occurred to me that we do not have great libraries in India and books are not very affordable. However, there's a vast reading public in all the major cities, whose home collections if brought together would provide for an excellent library. With this in mind, I am thinking of the possibility and issues with setting up an intermediary, a company which sets up one or multiple offices in a city(depending on the size of the city) which act as nothing but an exchange medium for books in the following way: People can become members of the library on the company's website. They can then upload the list of books they possess with basic information like author ISBN no. etc: When a user request is placed for a book, the search will retrieve all the sources of the book and the edition/year etc: If they are interested they then place a request for a copy of that book. The source can drop off the book at the nearest office of the company and the requester can pick up the book from the nearest location to the user. The company can commute between its various offices transporting the books. The company would be charging a monthly/annual membership fee and a borrowing fee which will be a fixed daily rate ensuring that the source gets a fee in accordance with the number of days the requester keeps the book and the company gets a commission out of each transaction. Any issues with this? If you can think of none and you are person with entrepreneurial ambitions reading this, you are free to take up the idea and start a company.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another gem I need to remember:

Some of us friends were camping in the Colorado mountains over the labour day weekend when one friend came up with this absolute gem(it loses some of its 'effect' when translated from tam to english but the idea itself is still stud)!:

Why do you think Indian women wear sarees? Way back in the past our great ancestral men realised that all our Indian women bloat up into 'drums' (peepas for those who know tam) soon after they are married. Earning only mediocre incomes they realised they can't afford to keep buying new clothes every year, so they decided to come up with the these 9 yard long sarees so that the women will never grow out of their clothes!


A couple of gems:

Just so that they are registered in my memory(:-|):

"Stable relationships are for horses" - Gautam Prakash

"Stable relationships are with horses, after all you can ride a horse" - Satya N Vishwanathan

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A game I like

It was 6 in the evening on Halloween. I was waiting for a bus at some isolated place in order to get home. The stop was deserted except for a young mom with a cat's mask waiting with her kid who was in the costume of 'hulk'. As I approached the bus stop the mom started staring at me. Being November it gets dark early and it was just about dark then. I thought she might be suspicious and to put her mind at rest I was walking about far away from the seats at the stop. One could see youngsters in costumes galavanting about. It reminded me that I must go to downtown later that evening. So many people gather on that one street that it really is more crowded than the mumbai station. Its a sight worth absorbing because usually the people keep a goods train distance from each other. The bus was being unusually late; one would think it was getting into its costume for the evening. I could see the mom turn back and throw quick furtive glances in my direction now and again. But I got tired of standing and went to sit down anyways. I sat in the seat farthest from her. As we waited, the kid got restless. Eventually, he struck conversation with me, and having heard me for a while the mom got friendly too. Meanwhile, a man jumped the waist high wall that defined the parking space of a fast food store behind the bus stop and approached us in haste. Before we realised what was happening, he pulled out from behind him a big bag of chocolates and said, "My wife thinks this kid has the cutest costume she's seen all evening and wanted to give this to the boy." The mom accepts it gratefully, but abashed by the unexpected kindness. The man jumps back up over the wall and departs in his car. The kid plays around with the bag of chocolates while the mom and I get acquainted with each other. Time flies by during conversation and the bus arrives. As we get in, the driver pulls out a bag of chocolates, shows it to the kid and says, "I just picked up this bag before the beginning of this trip so you're lucky kid." As we are seated in the bus, we are given company by a couple of drunks, one of whom was a guy intending to sell drugs to the college students at the mall close to campus(I know because he showed us the stuff in the middle of happy conversation). At the next stop, a couple of white trash people walk in. The lady has just enough teeth to prevent the jaws from colliding. The man is hunched enough that if you put a mirror to his face, you can see the outline of a dome from the side. As the lady sits down, she is feeling around in her purse for something. I presumed it was a vanity case, because that's the only thing I've seen women ever feel around for in their handbags for during bus journeys, apart from cellphones. She pulls out a candy, and hands it to the kid saying, "I don't know how it got in there, but that's for you kiddo!" The kid must've been pleased with his good fortune because he was all hyper in the bus and doing various antics that had me smiling and indulging him with attention from my cell phone camera. I got some really neat snaps(one of the drunkards can vouch for that!) considering the bus was moving and I didn't exactly have image stabilization and a tripod to work with. So the drunkard asked the mom is she wanted to give her email address so that I could send it to her. I made no offer because I thought she was somewhat the shy sort. She smiled and said nothing. After about five minutes, while I was still indulging the kid with my camera, she asked for one to be taken with her and the kid together. I knew the email address was coming. Five minutes later she passed me a little piece of paper with her phone number on it. Coincidentally, we were getting down at the same stop. She asked me to call her so that she may give me her email address to which I could send her the photos if I would. I agreed to that and she quickly disappeared in the opposite direction to which I had to go in.

Later that evening I went to Mill Avenue, the downtown. I went with a book in hand because there's a bookstore (Borders for those of you familiar with it) nearby and I had a feeling that I would get bored of the costumes. I took a quick scan of the two sides of that street. It was mostly what I'd seen in the previous two years: Young girls in slutty costumes showing plenty of meat, guys in scary costumes, and kids in cute costumes feeling a want of attention from all the elders furiously trying in vain to catch each other's attention. I went into the bookstore and sat reading till the store closed. As I sat there, I thought of that mom and her kid who were merely returning from the kid's school as on any routine day. It amused me to think of the curious game of Chance in which the kid got completely unexpected gifts of chocolates from strangers whom he'd never asked for "Trick or treat?", photographs of himself to admire from another stranger, and compliments on his delightful costume from drunkards and drug peddlers, while in stark contrast there were gathered the several hundreds crowded into this one street desperately seeking attention, and may be a bit of 'luck' in their own notion of it.

Here are some pictures:

I feel an emotion is a feeling

A discussion with a friend got me wondering 'what is a feeling?' I thought for a while and the only thing I could conclude was that the feelings are different forms of vanity. But in a sense that might be trivial because all things might ultimately boil down to that. So I went to the lord who provides all the answers. Google's first worthwhile hit was wikipedia. It taught me a valuable lesson in tautology.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reality professor

Below is a picture of a note that was stuck on one of the professor's doors during his absence. The numbers beginning with 'B' are room numbers in which he might be located. Below that is other places where you might find him available and open to discussion:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Shop till you shop

I just thought of a nice line to represent the consumerist women:

"I'm going shopping for clothes to wear when I'm going shopping for clothes."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Aaj kal, mere kuch pal

I've been tagged by Silverine. A few years down the line I fear my memory might not permit me to do such tags so it is very fortunate that I received it now.

The Tag

Two questions in each category answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are all set.


Your oldest memories...

The oldest memories that 'I' can recall are probably from the third standard. I recall having a fat friend called Jaganath whom I really admired for some reason(yeah, oldest memories are like that only!). I had a friend called 'Vaidish' who was the principal's son and I was strangely excited at being his friend. I viewed the principal of the school with the same kind of awe with which a religious man might view god. So I was pals here with Jesus no less, and always felt a special thrill to be going around shoulder-to-shoulder with such an important man! Then what I have a very vivid memory of is this incredible thing called 'soya milk' which used to be served chilled in little steel containers at the lunch hour from a steel drum for Re. 1 by one of the 'aayah's . There would be a mad rush for it, and that drink always felt like ambrosia to me. I never lost my desire for it but they stopped the supply that year or the next :( I also remember our 'pochaiah' ringing the bell after every period. (I believe that was his name and he was actually the peon, but I was for a very long time under the impression the guy who rings that bell is called 'pochaiah'.) I also remember a guy called 'Sunil' who was actually the school watchman's son. I have a distinct recollection of his face with his half-chipped front tooth. I remember his clothes were always very yellow(we had to wear white shirts). I knew he came from the hut behind one of the classes. I understood that he was poor. I remember feeling sad about it. I remember him as being an extremely fast runner. I greatly admired him for that. I wanted to run like him. I also remember that this other guy called 'sohail' used to beat me in running. I must've taken my running very seriously back then.

What were you doing ten years ago?

I was a stranger in my own home :( Perhaps many of you don't know this but I was in the US during my 7th because my dad had to come to the US on some research assignment for a couple of years and he wanted the whole family to be with him for the last year before returning. When we went back, I was quite lost. I remember that when I first went back to my school, I came across my third standard teacher. I knew her well so I wished to make a salutation. But I didn't know whether to say 'hello' as I was used to saying or to say 'namaste ma'am' with the hands pressed against each other as we were used to doing in school. I think I ended up saying hello with my hands pressed together. I had a hard time in school that year having become very stupid from staying in school in the US I suppose, and my ambitious dad sent me to sanskrit and mathematics tuitions. I hated the mathematics tuitions because the teacher was a tyrant but I liked the sanskrit teacher so I really began to enjoy the sanskrit subject. Apparently, I had a terribly american accent :( Till my last day in school I used to be mocked for this incident which occurred: On the first day I resumed school, which was a little late, the class teacher asked me to stand up and introduce myself. I gave my name. Then he asked me where I stayed. I replied, "Yellareddyguda" and the whole class including the teacher was in suppressed grins. Apparently it sounded very funny in the american accent. I tried very hard to get rid of the accent after learning that. But the sad part was I never knew there was an accent so I didn't know that I actually sounded different from others. In my head I thought I was speaking exactly like them. So for a while during that year I used to check with friends after random periods of time to see if I was speaking normally yet :(


Today was an interesting day. I had lunch with my groupmate, his girlfriend and his girlfriend's groupmates. The whole lunch we sat discussing politics and had some interesting discussions. I had on an earlier day got sucked into helping out with some propagating materials science event in the evening. On that day I thought it would be fun to help out, which it was but then I also really wanted to work today because I was trying to understand some results so I was a bit disappointed about that. However, there was some work I had to do for collaborators that was going to do me no good and I got done with that so that pain's out of the way and I can deal with my work in peace the rest of this week. Also, I am currently listening to 'aaro viral neeti' by KJ Yesudas. I just love the man's voice! Wish I had a voice like his.

If you build a time capsule what would it contain?

Time capsules are too hard to comprehend, but taken to mean what's most precious to me, I'd say my family.


Tomorrow I hope to do the work I didn't do today.

What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?

I don't think so far ahead any more. I am happy I'm not in a position where I can answer that question. I am afraid of being in a position where I can answer that question. Also, in general, I'm finding it very hard to think about the future. I find that my notions of 'the future' are very vague. Although I say stuff like, "I'm looking to graduate in two years" to the most common question asked me, the truth is, I'm not looking to graduate in two years. I have no idea when I want to graduate. Its not something I think about seriously. I also find it pointless to think about questions that reach so far ahead. The complex network of possibilities almost make the question seem absurd. I bring this up because I also find this to be the case with the near future. I am highly unable to think about the future in a sincere way because I realise that in truth I can't even define my present state of mind and the present course of action I'll follow. Making plans for the future seems a futile waste of time. Those are my present thoughts on the future.

I tag:
Turkey/Hari/Babe(if you guys still write on your blogs?)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The beginning of election soap

The 1960 presidential campaign was marked by one novel development, the scheduling between September 26 and October 21 of a series of four nationally televised debates between the two candidates. Although the format for each session was precisely drawn, the debates did not serve to distinguish sharply the candidates' specific positions on the issues. The major differences that emerged during the debates and more generally during the campaign were those of style and personality. Kennedy stressed the need for more dynamic leadership to get the country moving again, extend the nation's international influence and improve the quality of life in America. Nixon, in contrast, emphasized his experience and ability to stand up to the Russians, sought to make an issue of his opponent's youth and wealth, and blamed the Democrats for inflation.

The television debates were not without significance. Television offered possibilities for a new political strategy. Brilliantly exploiting television's communication possibilities, Kennedy projected an image of efficiency, detailed knowledge, and vibrancy and recognized the distinction between scoring point and winning audiences (which Nixon did not because he was convinced of his superior debating skills). Not surprisingly, then, a Roper poll revealed that, of four million Americans who admitted having been influenced by the debates, three million voted for Kennedy. Television had made its mark and further transformed American politics by reducing the importance of issues and political philosophy and strengthening factors like personality, appearance, and projected image.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colourful past

The Brown decision changed the black history.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beating around the bush

Its fortunate my acquaintances at ASU don't know my blog. Info you need to know: 'opto' below refers to an optoelectronics course that this chap's taking now and that I had taken in an earlier semester.

Note: If one has a question, one should just ask!

Shail: hey dude
me: hye
Shail: i have question
i spoke to my prof
abt opto
its no way related to my research
and she asked
if i wanted to do anything in future
i was like kinda
she gave me a option of withdrawing from it
i just give too much of time
to that subject
and other 2 subjects
hardly get time for her work
should i withdraw?
me: your call
Shail: asking ur advice?
does W on transcript
matter a lot?
me: Oh, like that. I don't know

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Was bored at lab today so came home by about 5:30. Didn't sleep enough last night so was feeling groggy, but didn't want to sleep at an odd hour due to a sensitive bio-clock. So made myself a warm drink of instant coffee, filled a plate with crisp chips and sat down to eat while staring at the TV. We've got a basic internet connection at home so about 22 channels air free to our home. 8 out of the 22 were showing the presidential debate live. So I switched the TV off and wrote this post.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I'm in love

I never thought it was possible.

I also never doubted my orientation.

But I'm seriously in love with independent candidate for the 2008 elections Ralph Nader.

If I were a citizen, I'd vote for him not only this time, but in every election he might ever contest!

All this because I saw an interview of him on c-span by the commonwealth club. There's too much in it for me to narrate. They said the video would be uploaded on c-span.org/politics. It isn't there just yet. May be in a few days. I'll surely update this post with the link to that interview when it gets uploaded.

I never heard of him before, and in one interview, I'm a complete devotee of him!

Of course he won't win, and he explains why too in that interview :)

But Ralph Nader, may you live really long! Here's to your health!

Here it is!

It is a 1hr 7 minute video with no breaks.
PLEASE PLEASE watch this interview if you've read this post! It is the most awesome interview I have ever seen in my life! Such men are rare and it is such a delight to know they exist! :')

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Wish list

1) An ipod news reader app: Basically an app in which if you key in the website, it reads out the day's news on that website. If you aren't interested in that article, you just hit fwd and like playing the next song it plays the next article! This would be really convenient for when I'm engaged in mindless work.(One may ignore the 'when' for more accuracy)

2) Laptop lighting that can resemble reading a book outdoors on a cloudy day.

Miner achievements

"The one strike that proved an exception to the wartime rule of short spontaneous walkouts, was the long, caotly and bitter 1943 bituminous coal strike. Again defying mine owners, Congress, the president, the military, and the public - which "damned his coal black soul" - John L. Lewis led his miners to a remarkable victory. As a result of the 1943 strike settlement, coal miners became the nation's highest paid industrial workers."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Democracy combined with technology can be a disaster

So the 700 billion dollar bail out proposal for the US economy got rejected and I learnt that it was mostly republican candidates who voted against it in the House. I was wondering why and I thought it must've been because the republicans need popular votes to win the upcoming elections. I guessed popular sentiment would be against this proposal because the stupid short-sighted media was talking about it in terms of taxes and stealing from the poor to feed the rich. But then, I figured, that couldn't really have made the candidates turn their back on a proposal that was initiated by their own party representatives! But I just read a BBC report where they state that thousands of individuals wrote emails to their own members of congress angrily demanding that they reject a scheme which is universally perceived here as a bail-out of Wall Street bankers.

May be technology isn't such a good thing after all. It gives too much power into the hands of ignorant people. Most congressmen i'm sure have a better grasp on the situation than the stupid average american public, and if they didn't get thousands of emails giving them an alarming reminder of the upcoming elections, they might've made a sensible decision after all.

When I read the flash news of the bail out in my lab, I turned to my American friend and told him in excited tones, "The bail-out proposal just got rejected!!" and he replied without even turning his face from the monitor, "Yeah." I said, "So you just read that?" He said,"No!" I: "Then how do you know?" He: "Because it was expected." I replied a little stunned, "What?!?! How?" He said, "Because we the people don't like it!"


Thursday, September 18, 2008

What are the odds

Yesterday, we were playing table tennis doubles. At the table were three Indians, and one Asian. One of the Indians casually asked in the middle of a warm-up rally, "Are you from China/Taiwan?" The guy replied, "Yeah, I"m from Taiwan. How did you guess?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Around the world in 800 days

Photographs taken at a bicycle stand on the ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Worthless lives

This trash is very aptly located right behind the rear entrance to the Engineering Research Center. In fact, my office is at the rear entrance on the first floor, so every time I take a break and go look out the window, I see this message, sigh in disappointment and get back to work.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brain fries

I went to Burger King for lunch today and a friend came along later. She asked me to order apple fries for her. It wasn't on the menu, but she said they'd have it. So it seemed like a special item. I asked for the apple fries along with my burger and apple pies. Here what the apple fries looks like:

Its about a quarter of an apple sliced in the shape of french fries.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


President's prophetic prediction

1928 - Herbert Hoover at the Republican Convention: "We in America are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land."

1929 - The greatest economic catastrophe in United States history.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

and still...

"In addition, adopting advertising techniques increasingly employed by private business, American politics became more packaged and American politicians more image conscious.
The ablest practioners of this public relations politics were Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Whatever their limitations as statesmen and political thinkers - neither had a vision of a just society or an appreciation of fundamental problems - both Harding and Coolidge were masterful politicians. Nor were they merely accidental presidents. Both men attained the presidency and commanded popular support by astutely using rhetoric to cultivate and project an image of sound, responsive leadership. Harding's speeches, as pompous and meaningless in content as they often were, were impressive policical performances.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


"When autumn came sports excitement did not abate. College football teams took up the slack, as each Saturday they waged their wars on countless athletic fields. Between later September and Thanksgiving of 1927, some thirty million fans paid over $50 million to watch college football. To accommodate the crowds earger to see the performances of such collegiate celebrities as Red Grange of Illionois and Bronco Nagurski of Minnesota, American universities built stadiums, sometimes derided as “lunar craters”, that held between 70,000 and 100,000 spectators."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some goats I like

I've been tagged by Silverine. For the past 4 years or thereabouts, I've been in the habit of taking notes from books I read in the hope of documenting the worthwhile because I usually forget everything. Such being the case it is naturally impossible to take on the task of listing a mere 5 quotations as per the rules of the tag. Today, I was going through some of the notes I've made over the years and picked out a handful of the choicest from what little I managed to go through. I am pleased with the final collection I have assembled here because it covers a fairly interesting range of subjects, and that is very satisfactory considering I'm only culling out from a tiniest collection of my notes. A note of caution: The content of the quotations aren't necessarily ideas I subscribe to. They are merely quotations that appeal to me.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche’s beautiful description of Arthur Schopenhauer:
    He was absolutely alone, with not a single friend; and between one and none there lies an infinity.

  • Arthur Schopenhauer:
    Most of our suffering lies in retrospect or anticipation; pain itself is brief. How much more suffering is caused by the thought of death than death itself.

  • Arthur Schopenhauer:
    Only a philosopher can be happy in marriage, and philosophers do not marry.

  • Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels(Note: Read the book to know definition of ‘Yahoo’):
    A soldier is a Yahoo hired to kill in cold blood as many of his own species, who have never offended him, as possibly he can.

  • Arthur Schopenhauer:
    We are unhappy married, and unmarried we are unhappy. We are unhappy when alone, and unhappy when in society: we are like hedge-hogs clustering for warmth, uncomfortable when too closely packed, and yet miserable when kept apart. It is all very funny.


  • Sriram Sivaramakrishnan:
    Is quantum mechanics Ψ-Φ ?

  • Anjali Philip:
    I learnt to cook at the tender age of 8 months, when I lifted a jar of salt and emptied it into a bowl of chicken curry.

  • Socrates:
    Tragedy itself is proof of the fact that the Greeks were not pessimists .

  • Bertrand Russell:
    We think of education as the transmission of a certain body of settled knowledge, when it should be rather the development of a scientific habit of mind.

  • George Santayana:
    Religion is human experience interpreted by human imagination.

  • William Somerset Maugham:
    The most important thing that money can buy is time.
The formating has been terrible because of my lack of familiarity with the blogger tools. Is there a way to directly insert a word formatted document in here?

I enjoyed going through my notes and must go through some more again some time. I tag:

I am not sure if even these 4 have RSS feeds to my blog. So if you are reading this and you have a blog ID, and you've left a comment, then you are tagged as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A joke warning

There was this North Indian in front of me in the line in Subway the other day. The lady across the counter asked, "So what kind of sub would you like sir?", to which he replied what sounded like, "I'd like a six inch tharki breast" :)

For those who are deficient in their Hindi knowledge(which is probably a majority of my few readers(or else i'd be under fire for this post)), 'tharki' in Hindi means a 'nymphomaniac' ;)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Abortion, infanticide, female foeticide - A thought process and its implicaitons in theory and practice

This post by Silverine made me think about the issue of abortion, particularly in terms of the 'right to live' or not of the foetus. Firstly, let us think about a 'right'. Only humans have rights granted to them. Notice also that they have to be 'granted'. So who grants these rights? Society. Ok, so which society? The aborigines of australia? The whites? The blacks? Each society has their own set of rules and rights that they guarantee. Fortunately, that does not complicate the present issue, because i'm only talking about the 'right to live', which every society guarantees, at any rate locally, to its own kind, if not to others too. Since this 'right to live' is then a part of every society, I shall broadly address the 'right to live' of human beings in general. As only human beings have rights, that means rights necessarily also have to do with conscious awareness of that right, because if i could give the chicken a right to pee on all people wearing white shirts, but it wouldn't, except by random chance, because it wouldn't understand the right, because animals don't 'understand', and understanding is a conscious process which only human beings are capable of. Ok, so let me repeat that key statement: for a right to be exercised, it has not only to be 'granted' by society, but also the creature to whom it is granted has to be 'aware' of it. I use the word 'aware' not in the sense of notified but in the sense of having a conscious understanding of what it means to the individual concerned. Now that we have a 'right' clearly defined, I shall alternately take the two stances of assigning a right to live for the foetus, and not, and see what rational consequences it has.

1) Statement: The foetus has the right to live.
Logical implications: The foetus has no conscious awareness of this right, just like the chicken doesn't, or the chicken's egg doesn't. Hence, if the foetus has the right to live, so does the chicken, and so does its egg, because there's no difference between the three from the point of view of the right to live which we humans may generously confer on them. They are none of them any more capable of exercising it. As a consequence, if the foetus has the right to live, all creatures have the right to live, including the ants in your food. This leads essentially to a jainist view. Note however that involuntary killing and killing for self-preservation are excluded because both of those are fall-outs of man as an animal.

2) The foetus does not have the right to live.
Logical implications: Thankfully, this does not have to trouble our conscience about killing chickens and eggs for breakfast. If the foetus can be killed, so can these. But, why stop at the foetus? Does a foetus get the right to live just because it changed its spacio-temporal location, i.e., it traveled through a canal, i.e., it is an infant? Logically, no. If a foetus has no right to live, then no more of a right does an infant have. The only difference between the two is spacio-temporal. Of course, this spatio-temporal shift results in a sensory dose to the granters. Meaning, you and I can see, touch, smell, and hear the infant. But a sensory dose is hardly a rational basis for deciding the right to live or not! An infant is no more aware of the right conferred upon it than a foetus. But what about children? What about adults? Where do we draw the line? In theory, I have already shown where the line is to be drawn. When an individual is 'aware' of the right to live, he has that right, by definition, provided it has been granted to him. Note that I use the word 'aware', because it is meaningless to expect, say the child, to 'state' its right to live. Language and its complications are immaterial here. So in theory that makes it simple. If there is a person who after 40 years of his life isn't aware of his right to live, he doesn't have that right, by definition. After all, the world we live in works just this way in the case of simpler rights. If someone isn't aware that he has a certain right, he is often denied it.

In practice, the theoretical logical implications of 1 are impossible to keep, because in practice, humans kill, and all too often for reasons other than self-preservation. But the goal is one that can be striven towards, even if not attained. It is possible for human beings to strive towards living with only that amount of killing of creatures as is necessary for self-preservation.

The problem with implementing the theoretical implications of 2 is that it is hard to define at what stage a child is 'aware' of his right to live. So the practical line has to be drawn somewhere. Probabilistically, one can be fairly certain that upto the age of 5 no child is aware of the right to live. While the foetus is like a chicken's egg, the child is like a trained parrot, and perhaps a little extra in other aspects. But for our purposes, they are the same. So, that makes infanticide quite permissible, and some extent of childicide too. Whether in practice people would start doing this extensively just because it is legally permitted is doubtful. So that got me thinking about to what extent people would do it if it were permitted. Because human beings have a notion of 'cruelty', which seems to them amplified if it is their own kind, the practice won't be very widespread. Of course, if there were to be a child grinding farm, it might be done a little more just as most of us would be reluctant to break the neck of a chicken and skin it ourselves, or stick a hot rod up a pig's arse till it screams and dies, but will gladly munch on chicken meat and pig meat. Anyways, in practice it seems like infanticide is practiced, more so in the developing countries. The problem is that its female foeticide. The problem is not that its a female, but that it upsets the sex ratio. So what? How does the sex ratio matter in a strictly logical sense? Is the human population going to go all the way to extinction from its present population of 6.6 billion because of female foeticide? No. So there's no long term worries of that kind. Hence, from the long term point of view, female foeticide is fine too. There are short-term worries though. A dwindled female population, leads to more frustrated males. That would directly have an effect on the crime rate. So, from the short-term point of view female foeticide is inadvisable. However, people seem to be doing it, in their blinkered look at self-preservation, because a man is a better work slave than a woman. They don't see the indirect consequences through crime, which works against that very self-preservation.

I've written this post because I'd like to encourage rational debate to see the flaws in these arguments.

Note: If you are simply disturbed and think what i've written is non-sense, there's no need to comment. I've taken that as the default anyways. If you wish, just put your name in for a head count, and go :p

Thursday, May 08, 2008

WTF headline of the day

Most people are familiar with this headline. But check this new one out! And if that isn't enough to have your eyes popping out, read the caption to the first picture.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Note: This post is very personal and one close to my heart, so if you aren’t interested in reading anything emotional, please skip this post.

This tag reminded me of my first kiss, but more importantly, of a time when I was happy. Truly happy. I’ve never regained that happiness since I lost her. It all happened so quickly that it almost seems unreal now. Yet, every second, every moment we spent together is etched in my memory like an engraving. The first time I saw her was on the streets of my campus. The moment I saw her calm, serene face, poised on an exquisitely slender body, I fell in love. I was so enchanted by her beauty that it was a while before I noticed she was actually sticking close to another man. With burning jealousy I looked to see who the lucky man was. I was heartbroken to see it was a friend I knew very well. He was much elder to me. She, on the other hand, looked younger to me. So he appeared old enough to be her father and I thought it a strange relationship. I knew he had a mature head, and I greatly respected him for that. I knew his love for her would be true, so I cursed my luck that the one time I truly fell in love, things had to turn out this way. I decided to be mature about it and took reign of my jealousy. I’d see her often after that, whenever I met my friend. I thought that strange because when I asked him about her, he said they had been together for a while now. Why was she suddenly showing up whenever I met him? Did it mean she was interested in me too? I stopped myself from continuing that train of thought. I knew that the most painful love is the unreciprocated kind, so I convinced myself that she had merely started spending more time with him, which increased the likelihood of my seeing her. I tried to grow detached, and every time I’d see her come with him, I would give her a pleasant smile, and then start conversation with him as if she wasn’t there, or she really didn’t matter. She seemed to be just fine with that, and she’d stick close to him, but stare at me incessantly during the conversation, and it would have my heart thumping, in spite of my efforts. It was frustrating, this strange behaviour of hers. It also affected the flow of conversation with my friend, so I decided I’d avoid meeting him for a bit, which meant I’d avoid her too. I hoped that would help me forget her, and these feelings for her. After all, it isn’t like she’s the only one of her kind out there I said to myself. I knew many who were more beautiful. Some of them were so beautiful, with their skin so soft, you’d think they’d melt if you touched them. At first, I simply tried to think of them, and distract myself. But her image kept coming back. Then I started spending more time with them, in the hope that at least when I’m physically with them, my mind wouldn’t get carried away. Somehow, that calm and composed face of hers kept nagging me, and it only estranged my relationship with the others. So I became very reclusive and kept to myself mostly. Nothing helped, and I knew I was incurably in love, but I used the pain as a drug, and when I wasn’t doing research, I’d spend the time thinking about her, and the lovely time we’d have together if she were mine.

Then, one fine morning, as I walked into my lab, I found her there. All alone. I was speechless. From her look I could tell it meant only one thing. I lost all restraint at that moment, ran upto her and smothered her with kisses. She didn’t reciprocate, but she didn’t refuse, and that’s all I cared for the moment, because I knew her reserved ways. That night, she came home with me, and it is the most unforgettable night of my life. From that day on, she became mine, and life was heaven. Every morning, I’d wake up with her head resting affectionately on my heart. We’d spend all day together, and her presence, rather than being a distraction, only helped me in my work. I managed to write-up a pending project report, that would otherwise have taken me two weeks, in just two days. Such were the miracles she brought into my life. I was overjoyed and I worked long hours in her comforting presence. Every now and then, I’d be reminded of my friend and I’d wonder what she told him, if she told him anything at all. A pang of guilt would flit through me, and then I’d be happy again.

I was having a perfect life, and I should’ve known that it cannot last. She began to lose weight. At first slowly. But when she started staying up with me when I worked long hours it became more severe. I was stupidly oblivious to all this in my state of bliss. Until, one day, suddenly, she choked, and fell terribly ill. One look at her emaciated body and I knew what was wrong. But I was afraid to tell her. That evening I went to the store and bought the medication that was needed to rejuvenate her. She took the medication and looked cheerful again. I knew, however, that her illness was terminal, and I shed a silent tear. I guess Mother Nature envied this girl’s sublime perfection. I was prepared to live with this. I felt it was all worth it, and to see her innocently rejuvenated by the medication every time she fell ill, brought a sad smile to my face. I didn’t want things to change. But, perhaps, I shouldn’t have wished that, knowing what luck I have when I wish for things.

It was a Saturday morning. The weather was just the way I like it, with the sun hidden behind the clouds, the diffused light giving a pleasant brightness to everything, and a gentle breeze blowing. I wished to take her out and so we set off on my bike. At the first traffic junction, as I made a turn, a hasty car took a sharp swerving left turn. I tried to dodge him and in the process lost balance. We both crashed on to the road. I had my helmet on so I recovered quickly. She had only her pretty cap. I’d told myself several times that I should buy her a helmet, but I didn’t, partly intentionally. She looked beautiful as she was. But in that cap, she looked like an angel. It was almost as if the cap completed her, and it gave me a strange thrill to see her with the cap on. I can’t forgive myself ever for this folly. She was a little hurt, and still lying on the road. Before I could turn around and help her, a bus sped past, and ran over her, mutilating her body. The cap was still on her head. I turn around in agony, and cried. I cried like there would be no tomorrow. I wished that bus had run over me instead, and I sobbed and sobbed relentlessly. The people around thought I must've gone mad. But I didn’t care. I cried till my eyes hurt.

Its two years since that day, and I still haven’t forgotten her, or forgiven myself.

After all, I can always find another one like her, but nothing can give the happiness of having stolen your best friend’s Mont Blanc

P.S: Now please re-read the article with a pen in mind :D

Monday, April 28, 2008

A conundrum?

Most women say, "I want to choose a partner who will be his true self with me."

I'm not quite sure what my true self is. That is one of the biggest puzzles. What's more I have a feeling, if I were to know my true self, and still be alive, then I'd be too content anyways to then wish to be with a woman. Interesting.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

To put it (in) differently!

An article I'd written back in undergrad that never went to print:

The Vedas and Upanishads introduced the concept of ‘atman’ or the ‘self’ which, in essence, declares that ‘only the self exists’. Whatever might have been their intention at that time, we have, very conveniently, interpreted it to suit ourselves, so that, the ideology now subsists as a pernicious indifference to everything and everyone around us.

I shall give you the simple example of our hostels. Some of us keep the very rooms in which we stay (or not) so dirty. This is only a small cluster and most of us, I’m glad, care to keep the room spic and span. But the room is cleaned by elegantly pushing the dust out on to the corridor (read dust bin), and this, in spite of there being a refuse bin every four rooms. The bathrooms are used to dispose of tufts of public (the ‘l’ is only to avoid crude language and out of concern for the prude) hair. If those aren’t enough to clog the drain holes then there are always the soap packets and shampoo sachets. On the one hand, we use showers without scruples and, on the other, we choose to conserve water by rendering the flush redundant! The stairs are, fortunately, cleaner with just the odd cigarette butt and a couple of juice tetra paks.The ground floor serves as a repository of SAC litter. There is a ‘tide’ of sachets all around the washing machine making for a bad ‘aerial’ view. When in the mess, in blatant disregard to the adage that ‘one man’s food may be another man’s poison’, we use the ‘same’ hand (or just ‘hand’ in the case of those who use both hands!)to eat food and serve ourselves or pass the food around. The boon of having a freezer for soft drinks is a bane to the mess workers as people callously leave the bottles outside the mess, on the floor, or more precariously, on the window ledges and the monkeys give a helping hand by deftly pushing them off the ledge.

This indifference doesn’t stop with the hostel, and how can it, for it seems to be in our blood, not our heads. There are always a few cycles parked so as to block the shed entrance and those who sincerely park well inside the shed are, with equal sincerity, prevented from removing their cycles by those who park later. I shan’t venture to elaborate on the little game of dominoes that we play in these stands everyday. We cycle or walk in groups at a snail’s pace and often in large groups thus occupying most of the road. Even ambulance drivers would be astonished by the privileges we fellow assume for ourselves on the road. We enter the class only to find that the professor who taught in the previous hour has been generous enough to leave his intellectual work for us to admire. And we do just that until our professor comes and decides to show his contempt for that work and erases it mercilessly. When the class ends, we leave behind signs of our ‘brilliance’. Only, it is seen in the tubes and bulbs, not to mention the fans. In fact, as we walk the department corridors our hostel rooms also give notice of our ‘power’ful presence with fans remaining switched on. When we are walking to the next class, or when we are just free, it is important for us to carry out our communications in a manner which suggests we are eternally anticipating an aero plane over our heads or practicing for helicopter conversations for we will all eventually be multimillionaires with the said conveyance in our possession. Indeed, it is therefore only too appropriate for the nearby classes going on that they should halt and watch us future luminaries rehearse.

So in every step one takes, starting from within one’s room, and moving in any direction, all the way till the end of this campus, one witnesses this appalling apathy. If I cover the entire institute in all its glory I am afraid I shall never have enough space to write it all and besides, it is my sincere wish that I get this article printed without censorship. That one is indifferent to dirt is no excuse to be indifferent to one’s surroundings. This is a cry to one and all, not to take responsibility to keep one’s surroundings clean, not even to show concern for the surroundings, but, only, to overcome this horrifying indifference and do what elementary common sense would dictate. Please! Let’s be different, or at least, less indifferent.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The amusing and the absurd - Part VII

There is a similarity between love and exams. In both, one is judged too quickly. Its funny that in the former we approve of it, in the latter, we don't :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

^:)^@My bro's status msg

Is Quantum Mechanics ΨΦ?

Copyright: Sriram Sivaramakrishnan

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I found the perfect reply :D

Sriram: stealing you status msg :)
me: :))
my pleasure
that's the idea in fact ;)
the propagate
4:05 PM *to propagate
did i show you my picasa pics?
4:06 PM Sriram: ur prev status msg?
me: yeah
Sriram: saw them
me: the langkawi island one
oh, good
Sriram: who did you go with?
4:07 PM me: with my soul mate
punctuate appropriately ;)
Sriram: hehe
4:08 PM me: :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The amusing and the absurd - Part V

I remember thinking one afternoon while travelling in Hyderabad that ironically as the traffic continues its exponential increase in both numbers and chaos, I foresee the number of deaths by accidents only decreasing. The densities are so high that vehicles move at a crawl all the time, and I've found that even at one's maximum speed in such traffic, its easy to come to a grinding halt to avoid, say, the ubiquitous auto that juts its nose into traffic from the side after picking up a customer.

The little birthday surprise :-)

I'm past the stage when I have any wish to celebrate my birthday, or even let anyone know its my birthday. Its quite insignificant really. Nevertheless I had a special birthday surprise this year. It was so special, not because it was all arranged grandly, but because no one arranged it. I slept late at night and so awoke only at around 10:30 am on a lazy Saturday morning. I had to go to lab to finish some work that needed urgent attention. In a dazed and inertial way I moved about the house getting myself ready. At the perfectly insignificant hour of 11:16 am I left my house for the campus. Just as I stepped out my house and faced the road, a couple of students on bicycles passed by, one of them carrying an inflated balloon which said 'Happy Birthday!' :-) It obviously wasn't intended for me, and they just passed along by. But the incident was special because of its absurd impossibility!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The amusing and the absurd - Part IV

How ironic that the common principal problem of the Indian and American masses is the same - ignorance :-)

It is very interesting that two very different factors have led to the same problem. In India, the lack of education is directly responsible. In America on the other hand, the problem is a little more twisted. It comes from such an excess of freedom and protection, that all things external to the nation would make little dent in the conscious mind, unless one deliberately chooses to bother oneself with seemingly remote affairs.

The amusing and the absurd - Part III

I distinctly remember being amused when during an India-Australia one day match, Robin Singh plodded, and very literally too, to a 50 and then ended up puking on the ground from exhaustion! It was the probably the only time I'd ever seen him make an even slightly significant contribution to the team's score, and very probably too the only time that he scored a 50 in one-day internationals, and to celebrate that by spreading his joy(if the pun may be excused) made me sneer at his fitness level. Today, I just learnt to my utter disbelief that Robin Singh is India's fitness trainer.