30 December 2006

Barack Hussein Obama, the bell tolls for thee

Update 1 Feb 2007: The extremely funny Melvin Durai made some suggestions for this post. You can read his take on Obama here. So I'm changing the post based on his suggestions (*).

I’m sure there are good reasons to elect Obama. However, going by the advertisements of candidates in prior elections, superficial reasons are more important. So, here are the best superficial reasons why Obama should be elected as President of the United States of America in 2008:

10. He hasn’t been in office long enough to be on the board of Halliburton. Everybody should have the opportunity to be on the board of Halliburton.

9. He’s so popular in Kenya that Kenya could become the 53rd state (after Puerto Rico and the UK).

8. No other would-be President has supported good manners. Joe Biden could sure learn some good manners.

7. He’s a great guy to have representing USA. His dad’s Kenyan, mom from Kansas, second dad Indonesian, half-sisters Indonesian, dog's German shepherd, cat's Persian, he has the whole UN in his family.*

6. Anybody who does a video about the double meanings of supporting a football team and announcing his entry into the presidential race deserves to win that race. (Go Colts, sorry Obama.)

5. For the bigoted who will not vote for African-Americans – he’s not really African-American. His dad was Kenyan and his mom is from Kansas.

4. Obama was on Oprah. She was impressed. Bush was on Oprah. She was depressed.*

3. His middle name is Hussein. His last name is similar to Osama. Get a president who has the names of your worst enemies. Battle for hearts and minds on Arab Street, anyone?

2. Grace (of Will and Grace fame) had a dream where Obama was in her shower and “Ba-racking her world.”

1. He looks like Nelson Mandela. He didn't spend time in prison, but he did suffer through Harvard.*

27 December 2006

Who's the man?

Not me, certainly:

SEXID

Here are some of my results. How about you?
(Take the test here)


Angles

This task tested your ability to identify the angle of a line by matching it with its twin. This is a spatial task, which looks at how you picture space.
Your score: 16 out of 20
Average score for men: 15.1 out of 20
Average score for women: 13.3 out of 20

If you scored 13 - 17: You found this test neither hard nor easy. This suggests your brain has male and female traits when it comes to spatial ability.

Spot the difference
This task tested your ability to identify which objects changed position. You lost points, if you incorrectly identified objects.
Your score: 43%
Average score for men: 39%
Average score for women: 46%
If you scored between 34 - 66%: You may have a balanced female-male brain.

Systemising
Your systemising score is: 17 out of 20
Average score for men: 12.5 out of 20
Average score for women: 8.0 out of 20

Systemisers prefer to investigate how systems work. A system can be a road map, flat pack furniture, or a mathematical equation – anything that follows a set of rules. A score of 15 and above suggests you're good at analysing or building systems. Men in general are better at systemising.

Eyes
This task tested your ability to judge people's emotions.
Your score: 8 out of 10
Average score for men: 6.6 out of 10
Average score for women: 6.6 out of 10
If you scored 7 - 10: Your result suggests you are a good empathiser, sensitive to other people's emotions. Women generally fall into this category.

I think the test is false! I am much more of a caveman than this indicates. Does the BBC not peruse my posts about attractive women and video games?

Merry Christmas

We had a fun Christmas party. I had a little time to play with the camera and discover that I had a poor man's SLR.

SD300

OrangeNuts

OrangeNuts2

wine

24 December 2006

Being 10 again

Recently Lova and I have been rediscovering our largely misspent childhood / adolescence. (The local opinion around here, and to our faces, not just backstabbing, is that we never left adolescence.) Anyway I chanced upon the “adult swim” channel which was telecasting the cartoon Voltron, a staple of my childhood. I immediately clicked the DVR option to make a series recording. For the uninitiated, Voltron is a cartoon about a robot, the defender of the universe.

voltronform

The premise is simple, there’s an evil king Zarkon who destroys planets and takes the population as slaves. He has a son, Lotor, who plans to be even more evil than the dad. Lotor is in love with Princess Allura and true to his demonic nature, wants to lay waste to her planet, make all the people slaves and take the princess as his wife. The Princess and four other space explorers pilot 5 robotic lions who can combine to form the mighty robot Voltron.
zarkon Lotor

Every episode has the same story. Lotor trains “robeasts” as opposed to robots to try to deactivate Voltron. He also plots to separate the voltron force so that they cannot form Voltron. Initially he succeeds and his Robeast only faces 4 lions and beats them up.
blue redlion

robeast
Then the fifth lion shows up and they form Voltron. Voltron fights a little, gets beaten, eventually decides to “form blazing sword.”
5lions voltron2

blazingsword

That’s it for the Robeast… one swipe of the blazing sword kills the Robeast, Lotor goes back to plot a new way of separating the force and training new robeasts. Of course the Voltron force could save themselves a lot of trouble by destroying Lotor’s home planet, which they never do. They also should just form Voltron immediately and have the blazing sword all the time. Then every episode would only last 10 minutes (5 minutes for beginning and ending scene, 3 minutes for the scene that forms Voltron, and 2 minutes for the explosions when the robeast dies.) This is probably why I do not write this series, but it's a classic and I love my Voltron.

Lova and I also acquired a used Xbox and currently we are fulfilling a 3 year dream of playing the game Dead or Alive: Xtreme beach volleyball. The plot of this game is brilliant. The female characters of dead or alive (a fighting game) are invited to an island, ostensibly for a martial arts contest, but in reality there is no contest. So they decide to take off their fighting clothes and don bikinis and play volleyball against each other.

xtremevolley

This is one game where watching is as much fun as playing! And don’t worry, it’s not all about volleyball, the girls have to form relationships with each other based on gift giving and going to the bathroom together and whatever else ladies do to bond. This allows them access to better volleyball partners. Better partners mean more victories, which means more money to buy more bikinis. Again, the scriptwriter of this game should be awarded a Nobel or something. (Opponents of the game do say that it's against women, but those are the same sort of opponents who believe that women should be pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen for all time so I don't lend their opinions much credence. And anyway, the volleyball scene in Top Gun did not draw any opposition from these groups so they are being hypocritical.)

Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy new year, happy holidays, and may the gentlemen who visit the blog play beach volleyball with the xtreme crew and may the ladies play with Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and cohorts (or the other way round if they prefer).

18 December 2006

Sunita Williams poops in space!

The Indian media coverage of Sunita Williams is getting a little over the top. Every turn she makes on the space shuttle and the ISS is covered in excruciating detail. Now I agree that it's a great moment for humanity that people are up in space doing all sorts of wonderful things. I think the media should focus on that and all of the astronauts instead of just one because her daddy happens to be born in India. I can understand being proud of an Indian in space, but Sunita's achievements owe nothing to the Indian space programme. If her dad had stayed in India she would not have been in space today.

I wish the media would talk about the importance of having a space programme and try to motivate the citizenry to start thinking in a scientific manner. That is the sole difference between first world countries and everyone else - the citizenry in first world countries believes that there are practical solutions to every problem - not "I cannot poop because God wills it" but "I cannot poop... maybe I should invent a laxative." The right to a scientific mindset should be one of the fundamental rights of every human.

I do have to admit that I have a hidden agenda for writing this. The post was partially motivated by my jealousy of all the astronauts... the moment I have the money I'm going to space... and I'm taking Ginga with me. Hey, maybe that will help my marriage prospects.

10 December 2006

Temple and State

Since it's almost Christmas, here's a primer on how the 330 million hindu Gods work - yes I'm sure Jesus is one of them.

For non-Indians who don't get this with their mother's milk, hindu Gods(esses) are arranged like a modern democracy. At the top is 'Ishwar' aka 'Bhagwan' who doles out power to everyone else. So Ishwar is kind of like the population that elect the leaders. Of course, once elected, the leaders forget about the people until 2 months before the next elections. Anyway I digress. Under Ishwar are 3 Gods who manage the whole show - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Vishnu is in charge of the ministry of education, sports, youth development, medicine, art, all the creative stuff... Shiva is in charge of intelligence, defense, judiciary and all that kinda destructive stuff. Brahma is supposed to keep the balance between the two. Occasionally Brahma's ideas are a little crazy, but they seem to work, for example, he got Vishnu to cross-dress as a woman and give birth to Shiva's baby. The baby was adopted by a childless King and eventually went on to kill a demoness who was causing trouble for the population.

The trinity delegates responsibilities to specialised divine beings... Ministry of Water is headed by Indra - one of the perks of his job is that a flying elephant transports him around. Ministry of Justice is headed by the God of death (appropriately for the times I suppose). His transport is not fancy - it's a black bullock. The war ministry is headed by one of Shiva's sons (no not the Vishnu one... this was a normal man woman son). Another one of Shiva's sons, Ganesh, heads up the Civil service which is supposed to remove all obstacles and ease the process of getting things done. Ganesh is the elephant-headed one and Shiva did not contribute anything genetically to him. Now husbands may think that their wives go to extremes when they fight but Shiva's wife, Parvati, is somehting else. She fought with him and created a kid out of the earth (well... since this is a PG blog I'm not going to entertain other possibilities... but Vishnu springs to mind as somebody who might want to play a prank on Shiva). Kid was very good and kept beating up all of Shiva's henchmen who he sent to console Parvati and eventually Shiva had to show up and behead Ganesh to talk to his wife. Parvati was not very happy that her son died and refused to talk until he came back to life. So Shiva decides he's going to be funny and puts an elephant head on the dead kid... that too a defective, one-tusked, elephant head and brings the kid back to life. To take the joke further, Shiva gives Ganesh a rat as a mode of transport. The elephant head makes Ganesh eat a lot and never again be a military threat to his father. Hmm... maybe Shiva didn't do it for giggles after all.

Brahma has kids too - 2 of his daughters head up the finance and education ministries. He's not as popular with Ishwar for some reason, maybe because he's not as flamboyant as the other two. Brahma kind of sits around, meditates, and doesn't interact with people much. I mean, when he wanted to have kids he just popped them out of his forehead and stomach.

Vishnu's more accessible to the people because every now and then he disguises himself and lives among the population, doing Robin Hood types of acts (politicians of today note - no AK47 weilding bodyguards for protection either). For instance he helped Manu (the Indian Noah) during the flood, got rid of several dictators as well as military leaders who got too uppity with their weapons (as Parasurama). Not to mention all the women... 16,000 wives during just one disguise. Yup, Vishnu does get around. Very flamboyant.

Anyway the population can go to one of these ministries to get their jobs done... and there are more of them every year... for instance now there is an actual temple that people pray in before going in for a US visa... so there's a ministry of US visa approvals as well. Can't find the link right now but I swear I read it somewhere. What we really need is a Ministry of sport... we don't have one... we just have a messiah called Sachin Tendulkar right now... he'll be deified in due course I'm sure. We're also missing a ministry of Outsourcing... maybe that's what Jesus is in charge of.

Every good democracy needs an opposition, and this is true in this case as well. The opposition are collectively known as asuras (called demons and the face of evil and hellspawn and other such flattering adjectives by the ruling gods). The asuras love to establish tyrannic dictatorships every now and then, even over the gods themselves. Now it's possible that in the past the asuras were the ones in power. For members of the Zoroastrian religion (Iranian cousin of hinduism - although now in exile in India) the asuras (ahuras) are the good guys. Anyway every now and then Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahma decide to give support to one of the asuras in the vain hope of having them defect and join the Gods, or possibly just to create trouble so that they can come down and be saviours of humanity. (Indian training of LTTE, US training of Afghan and foriegn terrorists to kill Russians, US/Canadian/UK training of Sikh terrorists, Iran's help to Hezbollah come to mind here. All the creations eventually turned back on their creators and had to be put down.) Anyway as soon as an asura gets conditional invulnerability from death, he or she decides to rule as a dictator and eventually gets eliminated by Vishnu or Shiva. Create a straw man, beat him to death and look good in front of the people. Brilliant. No wonder these gods have been around for a few hundreds of thousands of years. The picture is of an asura called Mahabali and Vishnu in one of his disguises sitting behind him, updated for the modern age, of course.

Coming back to the title of the post, in the west there has to be an actual separation of church and state... otherwise this whole one God Almighty thing would make for a dictatorship. In India we don't really need that - the government basically runs like the religion of 80% of the people so democracy is intuitive. This is why ministers can go on religious pilgrimages to drum up votes for the elections and people don't really mind.

Unfortunately the people confuse the leaders for Gods who are not accountable for anything, forgetting that the people themselves are the source of the power.

07 December 2006

Zambia's on the Onion

OK how spooky is this? Right after I wrote a post on a coup attempt in Zambia and Hulles added to it here, the Onion comes up with coup attempts in Zambia... I'm sure all of you guys are now thinking that my secret identity is a writer for the Onion... "Mild-mannered scientist by day, hilarious comedian by night."
Yeah I know you're really thinking "Idiot by day, moron by night" but rest assured I will not leak my secret identity... you will be left to wonder, am I an Onion writer or a moron?

Edit: Just noticed that Hulles blogged about the Onion article and he also has a hilarious post about outsourcing his blog... reading his other posts, I think he's probably on the staff of the Onion and keeping his identity a secret - but not from me... he dropped me a hint... saying that the Onion reads Mosilager ;)

Went to park, took some pictures

sunset

Trees and colours

06 December 2006

Make love, not war

A kissing scene in the movie Dhoom 2 between Aishwarya Rai (of Miss world and Revlon fame) and Hrithik Roshan (beloved of the damsels) has caused a gentleman in India to believe that it caused offence to women and "promoted vulgarity in society, especially among youth," leading to the actors being sued in court.

Well buddy if there were more kissing in the world there would probably be less violence. Also, newsflash - there's a lot more of what you would describe as 'vulgarity' going on in Indian schools than a hundred years ago when you were a student. It's more likely that men felt offended that Ash did not kiss them rather than women being offended. So... take some classes on the meaning of gender chauvanism, stop wasting the court's time, and let them get on with real problems (why does it take 13 years for judgement in the 1993 WTC bombings case?)

Are such people unique to Asia or are they found in Europe / USA as well?

Diaspora

There is some resentment of the Indian diaspora (currently ~22 million) in their host countries. In Zambia this resentment was due to the higher standard of living of the ‘foreigners.’ The resentment was fanned by the ruling authorities so that the general population thinks that they are kept poor not due to the policies of the government but due to the shops that people of Indian origin owned. General Idi Amin of Uganda eventually kicked out all people of Indian origin, thereby collapsing the country’s economy overnight. They were all invited back after the General moved on.

Another cause of resentment is the refusal of Indian origin communities to assimilate, i.e., intermarry with the local population and eventually be absorbed. Some of this does go on, but it’s very rare. The countries playing host to the diaspora should not worry so much. For thousands of years refugees came to India and were allowed to keep their communities and their beliefs. So now we have Jews whose ancestors came to India after Roman persecution migrating to Israel… that’s about 2000 years of non-assimilation. We have Parsees (Zoroastrians) who escaped persecution in Iran 1000 years ago… yes, they still exist, although their numbers are going down due to their women choosing to have fewer children. There are also numerous tribal beliefs that still survive from years ago. Well the point is that in India, a tribe or community can not only survive but flourish without any calls from the majority to assimilate. Is this because of the caste system that allows this to happen? Different groups of people are just lumped into castes that do not intermarry and allowed to go about their business. OK so maybe there is something good about the caste system, n’est ce pas? Other than that aspect it’s pure evil.

So, my fellow people in host countries, don’t worry about the presence of non-assimilating Indians. You would not have to assimilate in our country. Well, other than the essentials of survival - whistling really loudly in the movie theatres, honking on the roads, ensuring that cows have the right of way, saying yaar instead of 'man' and voting for Amitabh Bachchan as the actor of the millenium on the BBC website.

01 December 2006

19 November 2006

Captain Solo and General 'Fidy'

Democracy sometimes relies on the complete incompetence of its opponents.
One morning in Lusaka I was woken up by my dad, "Hey, get up there's a coup on." So I woke up, turned on the TV and there was a message flashing saying that the country had been taken over by the military and there was a curfew. Since we lived near the mass media complex (yes there was only one TV channel) we heard what sounded like machine gun fire as well. Rumours abounded that somebody from the military called 'Captain Solo' (no I'm not making this up) had taken over the country. After 3 hours or so the vice-President of Zambia, 'Grey Zulu' (no I'm not making this up either) came on TV, he looked shaken up, white as a ghost, with eyes darting all around, and sweating a flood said, "Don't worry, there was a coup attempt but it has been foiled. The perpetrators have been captured. We are still looking for Captain Solo. The president is safe, you are all safe." Well we didn't feel very safe after watching this guy's performance on TV, but were happy that things seemed to get back to normal. The whole story came out during the next few weeks. Apparently a few army soldiers including Captain Stephen Lungu (aka Captain Solo) had decided to take over the country. Their plan consisted of taking over the Presidential palace (and capturing the president) and also taking over the mass media complex so they could get on radio and TV that a coup had happened. They were able to take over the TV station but not the presidential palace because patriotic elements of the army parked a couple of tanks in front of the president's place. Anyway the loyal troops got to the mass media complex and captured all the guys except Captain Solo. He was later found hiding in a dustbin (garbage can for the Americans). There is an epilogue to this, the coup plotters were all jailed. After a few years a bunch of Ukranians got thrown in jail as well for overflying a sensitive military institution. Then Captain Solo and company were back in the news complaining that the Ukranians were too strong for them and treated them badly and ate all their food and so on. Actually I don't know what happened to them, I think the Ukranians were eventually deported, and the coup people were sentenced to death. I don't know if it was actually carried out.

The other day, in Madagascar, a general called 'Fidy', no relation to 50 cent (pronounced fidy cent in some circles), told the army to take over. The president, who was flying around, had his plane redirected to another airport. Apparently Fidy had some issues with not being able to run for President in the upcoming elections. Anyway the army said, "General Who?" and could not understand why he was telling them to take over so the civvies are still in control.

Lucky for Zambia and Madagascar that these clowns are so incompetent. Imagine if they knew a little bit of what they were doing, we'd have been plunged into warring factions like Somalia and other such tin pot countries.

...in other news 7 days to my thesis due date and 21 days to my defense... woohooo! This place is almost Doctor Warrier's Kraal!

11 November 2006

Ladies, get ready for Mr. Lova Lova

So I, my favourite 'citizen of the world' blogger Lova, and two unnamed persons of the female persuasion went to Chicago on Friday night to catch the incredibly funny Russell Peters and his opening act, Angelo Tsarouchas. As we got to Chicago with ample time left for dinner before watching the show, we, as in the ladies, decided that we should go to some place called "Nordstrom". Now people who have seen my pictures on the various blogs will realise that my understanding of the phrase 'shopping for clothes' means bargaining with roadside vendors who sport loud Hawaiian shirts, wear sunglasses at night, and have at least one missing tooth, for the express purpose of paying less than $10 for any item of clothing. So anyway we found ourselves in a shopping mall where names such as "Armani" stood out and every article of clothing seemed to be priced in Kwacha (Zambian currency, about 4000 Kwacha / dollar) based on the numbers of digits seen. While the ladies amused themselves by doing whatever they do in such establishments, Lova and I got the offer of going on a Comcast dating show for a renumeration of 20$ for recording a video profile and 300$ if we got selected. I of course felt all sorts of butterflies in my stomach and refused manfully to take part. Lova claims he was influenced by me to submit his profile and in the process signed some document swearing he is a U.S. citizen -add yet another one to his basket of nationalities - according to the lady who gave him the document, "Don't worry, we get lots of Puerto Ricans, they're not U.S. citizens either," anyway there was a TV setup and lots of lights and an interviewer asking Lova questions. After having chickened out of my own profile, I proceeded to be a good friend and to take some pictures for posterity's sake and also to humiliate him in the blogosphere.





Seriously though he came across as a good catch based on the snippets of the interview that I heard so ladies... he is out there. I'm sure he'll post some of the questions and answers on his blog (maybe with a little bit of persuasion on his comments space... not that I'm suggesting that you do that...)

Russell Peters, hilarious as always, totally different jokes from his 'outsourced' dvd that's going around. I was sure that we would get picked on, being in the front row, but we didn't, he picked on people in the second row. No, there was no tap some bong this time but the guy did an awesome Trinidadian accent. It was spot on. He has a good Bush impersonation as well, better than John Stewart's in my opinion. "The Indians, they gave me mangoes, I gave them nukl... nuku.... goshdang how do you say that word? nul... nukular secrets."

09 November 2006

Arabic proverb

quwatu l- 'insani fi 'aqlihi wa lisanihi

The strength of a person is in his intelligence and his tongue.


That is so true... have to work smart and present it well to people so that they appreciate it. Hard work will get you places, intelligence and a good presentation skills will let you rule those places.

02 November 2006

Dubya explained

Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years' time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said. Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge.
Yes... I think this is already happening. Dubya, Kim Jong Il, Paris Hilton, the ozzie guy who said women are meat and men are cats. Why the hell does the "dim-witted underclass" have all the power? just had a scary thought... maybe they're not the dim witted ones.... oops.

29 October 2006

Get your game on

Cool Indian ad



26 October 2006

Stars



drunk lights looking down
they have their problems too
some will blow up others will wane
yet others will be eclipsed
maybe there are patterns there,
virgo, taurus, dipper, gemini,
that give us hope
maybe we stare at them because
they are a reflection of us.

21 October 2006

17 October 2006

Why single ladies avoid me

lack of the correct body odour...

to prove how similar we are to chimps, Danny takes part in a potentially humiliating experiment.

The scent of male sweat is controlled by their genes, in both chimps and men. In a blind test, three women were asked to sniff the sweat of Danny and Cody the chimp, to see which one they fancied most.

When they found out afterwards that one of the odours was from a chimp, there was laughter. When they realised that two out of three had preferred the chimp, there was nervous laughter.

Parking

I live in a small city. Our parking woes here cannot be compared to any major city anywhere else, however there are some interesting cars that have crossed my path in the course of attempting to park the car as close to the university as possible. A little introduction, however, before I begin. Students such as myself have the option of parking so that we have a 6 minute, 8 minute or 15 minute walk to lab. As lab is in the basement, during summers I love parking in the 15 minute area so I can enjoy some more of the sun and not be as pale as I am, right now when I tell someone that I'm from Africa, they just don't believe me and at least one European is competing with me to see if she can tan darker. Unfortunately during the summers there are not as many students and the 6 minute lot always has some space for my little Celica. During the winters of course, when it's -20 outside, the only space is 15 minutes away. Those 15 minutes feel like a lifetime in that sort of weather, especially if you are walking through snow. The other little-known aspect of walking through snow is if you accidentally get it inside your shoes (read: the snowmobiles have cleared the roads by stuffing the snow on to the pavements where they make little everests). So you get into lab and you are warm, and then there's a wetness inside your socks which suddenly makes it seem as if it is 2 degrees.

Anyway, cold or hot, I would rather get to lab as quickly as possible. Taking the bus is out of the question because the last one starts back at 17.00hrs (5pm) and my cells are late risers. Cycling is an option, but in the evening I like getting back to the GingaBoo very quickly and I don't like the uncomfortable seats that US bikes seem to be saddled with. (They are approximately 75% too small to be comfortable, without going into further details). At approximately 0700 the 6 minute lot fills up, at 07:20 the 8 minute lot fills up. At that point the only available space is in the 15 minute lot. There are certain times when the 6 and 8 minute lots have 1-2 spaces available. So I time GingaBoo's No.1 and No.2 so that I can start off at the correct time from home. On reaching the 6-minute lot, as I am too lazy to actually enter the lot and look for spaces, I just adopt the classic drive-by shooting speed of 15km/hr and turn my head sideways to the right to look at any available space. Unfortunately there are people who are even lazier than I am who have staked out the parking lot... they just sit in the lot waiting for somebody to come and move their car. There are usually 2-3 of these 'waitors'. They must be the children of either Bush's oil consortium or some kind of Sheikhs who are sitting on major oil wells because they leave the car turned on, read books or so while waiting for a space. being too lazy to join the waiting line, I turn to the 8 minute parking lot, hoping for better luck. Again, I do the drive-by, this time turning my head to the left. Usually, no luck, but every now and then I spot a place that the waitors have not found.
Adding to the torture of knowing if there is a parking space available or not are the 'walkers.' These people proceed at a snail's pace through either of the parking lots. Hopefuls like me attempt to follow them through the lines of parked cars without missing their soon-to-be-empty parking space and having it taken over by one of the waitors. Most of the time the walkers walk past all the cars and seem to be going somewhere else so the whole stalking game was completely useless. These people have gone completely out of their way to frustrate their fellow students. Every now and then a walker will in fact get into a car, and this is the mother of all frustrations, they will pick up something, give you a little smile and a wave as if they are visiting royalty and you are there to see them, and lock up the car and leave... on foot. A tiny percentage of the walkers will get into the car and wait endlessly with the car turned on. These people are not as frustrating as the previous ones because they will eventually leave (by which time you have normally missed your class). They do sit, start their engines, put the car in reverse and then all movement ceases while they commune with the car or spirits, or perhaps aliens. Again, their petrol must be paid for by the Saudi government. Either way, whomever they commune with have no idea of the passage of time.
Once I do find a parking space, it's quite fun. Some people have highly entertaining bumper stickers that I enjoy reading during the long walk past the lines of cars while the interior of my shoes slowly fills up with snow. One loudly proclaims, "The religious right is neither." Brilliant! Another says (on a Honda Civic), "This car gets 35mpg. Who's the patriot now?" A third has a cryptic "Impeach" on the back, leading me to wonder if the owner is talking about MonicaGate or the whole Iraq fiasco. A mysterious one says, "Don't move firewood, it bugs me." Upon closer inspection, I find that it is talking about the emerald ash borer, a foriegn pest of ash trees that completely destroys them. It is spread by people taking firewood from one place to the other. "Defend America, defeat Bush" is another popular one. There are also some nice cars on the way to lab, including a black 2001 Honda Prelude (whoever you are, I am very jealous), a very nice, new Honda Civic Si (again, whoever you are, I am very jealous).
So as I enter the lab that has been my home for the past few years, I am cold, wet, and slightly unhappy because of no sun, but I thank all the people who have entertaining bumper stickers and nice cars to look at for making the journey a little happier, as well as the waitors who are usually still waiting for a space (and thus allowing me to say, "These Americans are crazy. They'll wait 30 minutes for a parking space when they can be inside in a 15 minute walk.") We expats can tease the natives just a little... that's part of the fun of being in a foreign country :)

11 October 2006

Voting of the best player in the last 50 years

Those of you who follow African football might want to vote for the best African footballer in the last 50 years. Of course my vote went to Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia aka Great Kalu. He honoured the memory of his 30 fallen colleagues in the Gabon air disaster and took Zambia to the finals of the Africa Cup in 1994 with essentially the Zambia B-team. It was only through the efforts of a certain biased referee that we did not make it to the World Cup in 1994 - Jean-Fidel Diramba - the name that will live on in infamy in Zambia. Anyway, pick your selection from the list of all time greats and email it to caf50@cafonline.com before 15 November 2006. They also accept suggestions if the name is not on the list.

08 October 2006

And the Nobel goes to...

The awardee of this year’s Nobel Prize for literature has never made any money from her writing. She has never signed with a publisher or seen her writing in print. Nobody but she herself knows who she is or where she is or what she does other than dictating her life experiences into her literary efforts. She has a following of millions, however, who regularly read her online journal, also known as a blog. It all started with the first post, appropriately titled, “The first post” 10 years ago. The only person who noticed this post was called “Anonymous” and left a message about how the blog was very interesting and she should click on a link that promised money. Since the very ordinary beginning, extraordinary stories began to flow out. Stories that reminded the readers of their hopes, their dreams, their ambitions, and above all the universality of human needs such as love and companionship. Taxi fliers in Nairobi and CEOs in Shanghai and parking meter robots on the Rakesh Sharma base on the moon could all identify with at least one of the stories. As we explore new frontiers, these writings have reinforced that we carry the same core within all of us. The open comments on each post attest to this. And so, the Nobel Prize for Literature 2049 goes to…

06 October 2006

I am a rapper!

Well, they got the spelling almost right...

(thanks GSL for the link)

Why is the world afraid of muslims?



By:Tashbih Sayyed, Ph. D.
A number of recent apologies made to the Muslims by non-Muslim leaders clearly indicate that the world has grown increasingly fearful of Muslim rage. Political Islam, as is obvious...


Good article. To non-muslims increasingly the face of muslims and by extension Islam has been dominated by bin Laden and gang, especially to those non-muslims who do not interact with many muslims (or may not even know that some of their friends are muslim).

Other good religious stuff on the net:
Fatwa on Pope
Anonymously Insightful

25 September 2006

Duck Pond

I went for a walk with Ginga and BooBoo in the park. It happened to be sunset and the park looked beautiful so I tried to take photos of it using a point and shoot camera while controlling a dog who was trying to run after rabbits, field mice, squirrels. The difficulty of this task should not be underestimated ;) anyone have a digital slr they're going to throw away? I could use one...

wild indiana sunset

fountain in pond

dog looking at fountain at dusk

20 September 2006

I don't want to eat lunch here

I don't want to eat lunch here!


Are they suggesting that I might BE the daily lunch? I would not risk eating there. The difference punctuation makes!

17 September 2006

Talk with a 'refined hillbilly'

Three of us were at lunch when a brightly clad American guy rolled over to us in a wheelchair. "You India?" he asked, and I nodded my head, still a little blinded by his yellow shirt. His words were punctuated by gestures. His hands folded together, "Naamustey." I was excited, "Namaste, I said." His hands came together in a big circle. "People come here from all over the world. They live peacefully, friends with each other, here. The media, they don't report that. They say other people are bad, they are fighting with each other." He took a photo with his hands. "But you guys, you should take photos, put it in the media, tell everyone, we are peaceful. Everyone is happy with each other. The politicians, they are trying to tell us, those people over there are bad, we are good. They are trying to divide people. Not good. Students come here from China, our government tells us China is bad, Red Dragon Rising."

"India... when I was drafted into the navy..." I interrupted, "was that the Korean war?" He said, "no, Vietnayam... I studied here, flying. 12,500 pounds or lower. I got my twin engined license. Wanted to join and fly for the army. But the draft came. I'm a hilbilly, from 30 miles away." I said, "I thought the hilbillies were from Kentucky." He laughed a little and said, "yes, Kentucky, real hilbillies... in Indiana, refined hilbillies. the draft... I pushed planes around on a flight deck. Didn't fly. 1969, Rayvi Shaynkaar..." And then he made a gesture as if he was playing a sitar. "Rayvi Shaynkaar, John Lennon... they play together, I still remember. We want to help India, they are in a dangerous neighbourhood. India, lot of culture. I keep in my heart. Where are you all from?" I pointed to myself and said, "India." One of my friends was from Sri Lanka and other from Iran. He again moved his hands in a wide circle and brought them to his body, "you see, all of you here, friends. you tell them. Everyone is happy together here. When the tsunami came, India in our hearts, Sri Lanka in our hearts." He held his hands up in a praying gesture, " We prayed... to God, Allah, same, up there, good. Pray for me as well."

"Purdue is a good place. I came by there," he said, pointing at the road behind us, "girls, drunk, falling. I could be arrested just for thinking about it, you know? ha ha ha. My friend, inside, he's Lebanese, we are all friends here, we live peacefully. He said he's from Iowa. I asked him if he knows how to say goodbye in Japanese. He said no, so I tell him 'Sayonara.' Now when I leave he says, 'sayonara' to me. He's from Iowa. Now I'm going to the library. I'm going to read the Kama Sutra. I asked my friend if he knows it, he was laughing. India, in my heart," pointing to his heart, "here." I asked him, "will you have a chance to visit India?". Perhaps I should not have asked as he looked sad. "No, not so much money now. But India is in my heart. Good things it has given the world. Pray for me, bye."

I have actually paraphrased the conversation, not reported verbatim what was said. But there you go Gregory, if you ever see this, I have reported it to the world.

09 September 2006

The invention tag

Video has an interesting tag for me and the doggies about 3 gadgets that should be invented. The GingaBoo got Lova to do theirs and I'm going to do mine.

1. Teleporter - can see any place at any time, no questions asked!
1(a). Random teleporter - imagine if somebody was yanked from where they were and suddenly found themselves somewhere else. Let this randomly happen to politicians once a year or so. So you might actually find Bush in Iran or bin Laden in the middle of a world trade center survivor rally. Imagine if this happened to Clinton while he was with his intern... and he landed in Afghanistan under the taliban. This would make world history even more bizarre than it already is and provide everyone with great laughs.

2. Babelfish - from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy - fish that feeds on external sound and excretes it into a language that you can understand into your brain. Instant translation without having to learn another language, and absolutely necessary the more global we get. Although this may confuse men even more if they find out what women are really saying rather than the male interpretation of what the woman meant.
2(a). Combine selective babelfish with random transporter above. Not only does Clinton land in Afghanistan in a compromising situation, he can understand everything they say but they can't understand anything he says (and he has to play dumb charades to get them to understand anything).

3. The Internet. Everywhere. Free. In your own language.
3(a). Have a live webcast on Clinton with his pants down under the Taliban trying to explain to them that he got there by a random teleportation event while he was not with his wife and he's very sorry about the cruise missiles but it was just a joke and would they please direct him to the nearest intern or U.S. embassy while using sign language.

So now I have to tag 3 people. I shall tag The Visitor, Melvin Durai, although he's probably too busy, and Sheetal, who's been having a rough time of it lately. Oh also, anyone else who wants to do the tag, consider yourself tagged.

07 September 2006

Universal studios

My first visit to Universal Studios. The idea is that they have a huge amount of land close to Los Angeles where they have set up studios that people can rent to shoot their movies. They have generic buildings made out of styrofoam if my memory and the guide to the tour can be trusted and these can be painted differently for each movie. For example, Bruce Almighty was shot on what is known as "New York Street" on the Universal set. Here's a building that he walked out of sometime during the movie:

brucealmighty

Here are some stunt cars from Fast and the furious : Tokyo drift which had recently been shot there. The cars were hooked up to a mechanical arm that moved them according to the instructions of the controller. For instance, when he told them to 'take a bow,' they did!
fastandthefurious




Live casting for Fear factor - for those who don't have access to this show, it should be called 'gross-out factor'. Every time I've seen it on TV, somebody's eating live worms or cockroaches or slugs so I've only spent 2 seconds on it accidentally every now and then. Worst was when we were celebrating a kiddo's birthday at a restaurant and the TV opposite to us was set to this. This is why I stopped watching horror movies.
fearfactor

King Kong, baby!
gorilla

The stuff vacations should be made of just outside our hotel. Unfortunately I was there as the bone in the kabab so my sis and brother-in-law could not enjoy it as much ;) Sorry!
palmtreesunset

This is where they shoot movies that have ancient themes... it's a generic Roman / Greek building / courtyard type thingi...
roman

Ran into one of my favourite childhood heroes... Spiderman! (or Pydevaaaaa as he is known by a local 3 year old whose birthday we were celebrating while gross-out factor was going on)
spidey

Set from War of the worlds... yes that is a **real** boeing 747 whose innards are spilling out onto the street. The director thought it would be cool to have a 747 crash in a neighbourhood.
waroftheworlds

I don't watch it but for those who do, this is a house from 'Desperate housewives.' This is Wisteria Lane.
wisteria lane

Once google uploads my video of the dancing cars I'll put it up here as well.

California is an odd place

OK this stuff I found while running around California. All I can say is that pictures are worth a thousand words...

This has to be an insult of some kind...

Son of a Jew
(Son of a Jew)

Oh... ok... it isn't... that was a relief...

Son of a Jeweller
(Son of a Jeweller)

Picture(5)
So... the ticket must present printed order and receipt and valid ID in the name of the person for the person to get a ticket? OK ok it was hilarious at midnight when I saw it, not so much right now.

modeladvert
This one was kind of cool, the bottle of Absolut vodka in front of the girl says Absolut 100% hot. They're looking for models if anyone's interested.

30 August 2006

Our pledge is sheer genius

Just like in many countries, in India there's a national pledge that all schoolchildren are taught. It goes something like this:

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters....(blah blah blah)... In their well being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.
When I was in school and had to say this every day, I had a problem with the first line. As you can see, if all Indians were my brothers and sisters, then I couldn't marry any of them. Later on, however, I realised that this line is sheer genius. Nehru and gang had figured out that each Indian wanted a lot of kids. This would lead to a population explosion that would outpace any development the country would have. If all Indians truly believed in the pledge, they could only marry non-Indians, resulting in fewer marriages (and probably fewer kids as most of those marriages would long-distance affairs). Also they would have found lots of people from neighbouring countries, resulting in complete peace in South Asia... after all you're not likely to want to fight your uncles and take their land when it would just pass on to you based on inheritance in a few years.

Unfortunately most Indian parents disagreed with this and got their kids married off to their childhood friends' kids, resulting in a population going from 330 million to 1100 million in 60 years. If only our grandparents had followed the national pledge we would be some majorly exotic people who looked like Lisa Ray and probably not be fighting wars all over the place.

27 August 2006

24 August 2006

Birthday

So, my roommate aka long lost twin Lova had a little birthday celebration at his blog for me where he asked people to wish me in different languages on my first post on this blog. So, I think he owes me a bottle of Lafayette's finest Scotch by now... as we have doggish, french, la reunion creole, tamil, malagasy and english greetings. Oh wait, need one more language... so close... anyway I promised to post a picture of me at Halloween dressed up like Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction so here it is:



Maybe if I wasn't smiling so much and I had a gun in the hand would have been a dead ringer for him...

Anyways a my friends turned up at midnight (Ginga and BooBoo's aunties who had been making a wonderful chocolate cake for 2.5 hours and Superman, Lova, doggies) and the rest sent their apologies for being busy with stomach bugs and Ph.D. defences so it was all good. Although they missed the wonderful cake and presents. My family was there over the phone, so had an all-round good time. Now that I'm physically on the cusp (29) I think I can mentally advance to be about 15 years old. Yay!

delicious food

presents

Good stuff! Now if only I could finish the thesis as fast as I can get through these! Thank you very much!