29 March 2006

Socks and girls

Recently one of our friends misplaced her socks in our apartment during some Booboo/Ginga showering action. It should have been easy to find, because the girl in question knew what her socks looked like, and they were the only pair in the house that were matching and had no holes. Unfortunately either my roommate or I have managed within the space of 15 minutes to ensure that only one of the socks was found. I'm sure the other one will turn up eventually, probably with a hole in it. Hey, but in our defense, we're men.

28 March 2006

Kuhn Lab Bar Crawl 2006

Congratulations to Karla for organising the very first Kuhn lab bar crawl. We had a t-shirt and everything. The crawl started on a good note, with a poster spotted at one of the bars:

IMG_4018 copy

If you can't read the small type, it says:
"I feel like a Guinness"
"I wish you were"

Here's the t-shirt:
shirtfront shirtback

27 March 2006

Funny Columns: The Only Real Democracy in the World

Melvin Durai's hilarious! Check out his latest post below

Funny Columns: The Only Real Democracy in the World: "The Only Real Democracy in the World"

25 March 2006

Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité

Bad France #1

French President Jacques Chirac showed his temper at the EU summit when a French business leader addressed delegates in English.

He's crazy. English is the language to use when there is a pan-European audience and anywhere else. The French seriously have to get over this mentality that their language has to be imposed everywhere. What if the Chinese started something like that? They have a right to, with 1/6th of the world speaking Chinese as a 1st language. Or how about hindi, with 1/12th of the world speaking it as a 1st language? Seriously... there was a time when French could have been the language of choice in the international arena... that time has gone. Now it's english, they should live with it. He he he English is the 'lingua franca.' Hey at some point it was sanskrit, then greek, then latin, arabic... it changes. Just live with it. Wonder if Chirac would have got as mad if it was somebody from Togo addressing the audience in English? Probably would not have been politically correct.

Bad France #2
This whole law of banning religious symbols that kids wear to school. As much as I dislike it, people take religion seriously. They want to show off their religious symbols and get angry enough to start wars if they are not allowed to express themselves. I understand that the law is meant to target muslim girls from being forced to wear the hijab, but what if it is their choice? In a multicultural society you cannot marginalise one group. Doesn't work. I think the education should be geared towards producing adults with a scientific mentality, that at least they think about something that people tell them before blindly believing it. Nobody likes being forced to change their basic belief system, and they will fight against it.

Good France

French law could break iTunes, Microsoft DRM

A proposed French law ostensibly designed to fight piracy and promote legal music downloads could force Apple and Microsoft to open their respective DRM standards to competitors -- or allow consumers to break the DRM if they don't.



If they do enact this - and I'm sure they are under a lot of pressure from companies to not - then vive la France because this is a great victory for consumers. If I buy music, I would like to use it where, when and how I want to use it, not how the company I buy it from wants me to use it. Is that so difficult for the major music sellers to understand? These companies are basically restricting what people can do with the music they buy because they feel that the same customers will steal the music otherwise. Since when does buying a hammer mean that I'm going to hit the head of sony with it? That's actually funny, the companies want you to buy the music, but if you actually buy the music then you are treated with suspicion of copying and uploading to the internet. Therefore, customer = suspicious person. I hope France does enact this law, maybe then the companies will realise that criminalising their customers is not quite the way to go.

23 March 2006

Mentalacrobatics » question:answer

This is awesome!

Mentalacrobatics » question:answer: "12. You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?

Create an elite fighting force of 300,000 soldiers with two missions.

First, to disarm any force involved in civil war across Africa forcing the protagonists of the conflict to sit down and talk to each other seriously. If the talks do not work out then they can have the biggest fist fight in the world. General punching General. I don’t care. I do care when they turn 12 year old boys into child soldiers to kill other 12 year old boys.

Secondly, assassinate anybody selling arms to Africa and then release the arms that were bound for Africa into the society in which they were manufactured. I think the exportation of death would be halted pretty promptly when the nutters running around with machine guns are “over here” and not “in some dark corner of Africa”.

Actually I have no qualms over the morality of this. Someone raise me an army."

19 March 2006

Women at War

Given the recent blogathon to raise awareness of 'eve-teasing', or harassment (both verbal and physical) that women in Indian cities are exposed to while going about their daily lives, I decided to write something about self-defense. I'm very interested in defence affairs, both of nations as well as individuals, and it's been a long-standing arguement of mine that women have to be given self-defense lessons in school. For too long we have kept our women actively away from sports and physical disciplines for no good reason. I would like a revival of our ancient martial arts (heh heh of course I pick the mallu one), taught compulsarily to girls in school, and any guys who would like to learn. This would go a long way in ensuring a population that has the confidence to take care of itself. No more of nobody will marry a girl who has bruises on her knees and stuff like that. If our roadside romeos know that the girl can fight back, I'm sure they will think a few times before commenting. Or maybe not, and they get bashed up for it. Either way, the streets/buses will be a safer place. I want to commend the blogathon organizers because as long as people don't talk about it, it will remain a problem. After all, the Rani of Jhansi wasn't that far back in history.

थोडे दिनों पहले २०० भारतीय महिलाओं ने अपने संकट बताए ईव-टीसिंग से। मुझे भी नहीं पता था कि यह इतनी बड़ी समस्या है, उनके कहने से पता लगा कि महिलाऐं जब बाहर जातीं हैं तो उनहें बड़ी धिक्कत होती है लोगों के बातें सुनकर और उनपर हमला भी होता है। लड़का होने के कारण मैंने कभी यह महसूस नहीं किया लेकिन अगर मैं उनके जगह होता तो मुझे बहुत गुस्सा आता और ज़रूर मारा-मारी हो जाती। मेरे पास इस समस्या का हल है, जो मैं बहुत से लोगों को बता चुका हूँ और अब इन्टर्नेट पर कह रहा हूँ। हमें अपने लड़कियों को पाठशाला में लड़ाई कैसे करते हैं यह सिखाना होगा। लड़के तो यह वैसे भी पढ़ जाते हैं, लेकिन लड़कियों को पढाना बहुत ज़रूरी है। इससे अपने गली वाले शेर चूहे बन जाएंगे, अगर नहीं बने तो लड़कीयों के हाथों पिटेंगे। अगर लड़कियाँ अपनी सुरक्षा करना जान जाऐं तो शायद शहरें उनके लिए कम भयानक जगह होंगी। लेकन इस विशय पर चरचा होने से अच्छा ही होगा, अगर उन लोगों को पता चले कि उनके वाक्य और कर्म कितने हानिकारक होते हैं। अपने मर्दों को भी पता चले कि झान्सी की राणी अभी भी भारत मे मौजूद हैं।

16 March 2006

Bush in Pakistan video

I nearly killed myself laughing watching this... for people who understand urdu/hindi:



Click here for my take on the Bush subcontinent visit.

14 March 2006

Polygamy is OK

Ha ha shocked you didn't I? Apparently there are a bunch of US citizens living in the state of Utah who believe that the Flat-Earth society 1950 years ago gave them the right to marry multiple wives. And they use that right, with the authorities unwilling to counter it. Polygamy is also sanctioned in Islam, but there are strict rules for when it is possible, which are practically impossible to enforce and are often NOT. To keep such an unequal system in place, most of the women who participate in it are kept away from a modern education, told all sorts of lies about a woman's place and power in society, and basically are treated like second class citizens. Now I am no authority on any of these religions, but I can report that an Islamic scholar told me that polygamy was allowed in his religion because in a healthy society, there are always more women than men. (Of course this was before the sex of the baby was known prior to birth). It was a system devised to keep the extra women from being lonely and "sinning". Mmm... sure my friend. Islam allows 1:4 man:woman whereas in the population it's 1:1.1 or so. Somebody got their mathematics wrong. Well, maybe not, if about 10-20% of the men are polygamists, there will be no lonely women. Except of course in China and parts of northern India, where there are actually less women than men in the population.

I am of course all for polygamy, as long as androgamy is also freely practised. Why should only a guy be able to have multiple wives? Why can't a woman also have multiple husbands? Now I do come from a country which has in the past practiced both forms, right now it is one man one wife officially for about 75% of the population. (Muslims are exempt from this and go by shariah.) Now I have no idea why someone would sign up to take care of even one wife or husband, according to me you would run out of things to talk about in approximately 1 month, but, hey, people do it for many many years so they probably do not get bored of each other. That is one mystery that I have not cracked yet, but if my parents have their say I'll have to find a solution as soon as I have a job.

This is one of those sad issues where I feel that the women involved should speak up and kick the rear ends of the guys who polygamise them. Unfortunately in many cases the women themselves perpetuate the system by teaching their children that it is fine. Again, I think that this is due to a lack of knowledge about women's rights and religious indoctrination. "God wants me to do it" syndrome.

10 March 2006

06 March 2006

Blu-Ray or HD-DVD?

So... the next generation DVD format. I'm taking sides and I vote for HD-DVD. Why? Well, it's better. It's region-free, and not supported by SONY. This year I've been extremely anti-SONY after the whole rootkit fiasco as well as their portable mp3 player which looks good but is non-functional. Any company that wants to assume that its customers are a bunch of thieving robbers should not be allowed to set the standards for anything!

OK, so for those who have not been following the whole Hi-Definition story, the successor to DVDs has been announced. There are 2 formats right now, with different companies behind each. Sony's is called BluRay and Toshiba's is called HD-DVD. Both are designed with the manufacturer's licensing fees in mind, as well as having some control over how customers use the DVDs. I don't trust the Sony one because their decisions in the past have been anti-customer, most notably when they put software on their CDs that behaved like a virus and controlled how and where a customer could listen to music that they had bought, not to mention slowing down their computer and exposing it to all sorts of potential viruses.
They also make a very good looking portable music player, but you can only transfer music to it on one computer, using their extremely slow software, and they want to know about it when you do. This is ridiculous. If I have a portable music player I want it to be portable! I want to download class lectures from my linux box and my pc and maybe even my lab's macs to listen to. I also want to listen to my guitar play mp3s without being told where and when to do them. Bad sony!

So as you can imagine, I am fairly angry with sony this year. Maybe they will reform and decide that customers are important. But probably not. So, HD-DVD then is what I support, and I think sony should be banned from making standards of any sort for a long time. Why do these companies think that people should throw money at them and not get anything in return? The problem with sony is that they are into movies and music as well, and computers and mp3 players have put recording studios who act as the middlemen between the artists and the public in jeopardy. Now I can release one of my songs on the internet, stick a paypal icon on my website and I don't need the recording company for anything. That's really what sony is trying to protect, their excessive profits from music and movies, at the cost of degrading the experience of the consumer in watching / listening.

What I really hate is that they are taking the magic away from listening to music and watching movies.

02 March 2006

Explaining India to Bush

Since George Bush is in India, I decided to write a survival guide for him so that he comes out in one piece.

1. Learn to appreciate 5-day cricket. It'll help during those long Texas vacations on the ranch.
2. Be nice to the cows. Cows are for cuddling, not cooking.
3. 'Nukular' is an acceptable way of saying 'Nuclear'... but only in Bihar.
4. Yes, we have beggars. They're very good at their jobs. They're unionised, don't pay tax, and have a higher standard of living than most other Indians.
5. Our steering wheels are on the right side of the car, which enables us to use our left hands to honk the horn constantly. It is considered bad manners not to warn oncoming traffic and livestock of your impending visit. Even the airplanes start honking when they enter India.
6. The communists did call a strike in Kerala protesting against the American Iraq policy, however the real reason is that we have a guy from Kerala debuting in the Indian cricket team and everyone in the state wanted to watch him on TV.
7. Any price you are quoted for anything, divide by 100. Then divide that by 4 and quote that number back. Upon hearing that the shopkeeper cannot feed his children if he gives it to you at that price, multiply by 2 and walk out if he doesn't agree. He'll give it to you and make a nice little profit. On the other hand, it's only 50 cents.
8. If you are not speaking to someone else on a mobile phone, you don't exist. Even the beggars set up appointments using mobile phones.
9. If someone should offer their son in marriage to your daughter, don't reject them out of hand. Tell them you'll offer the White House as dowry. Then leave quickly before the deal is sealed.
10. Tell your security staff to not worry about the bugs. They're everywhere. Get the maids to sweep them away. RAW will provide appropriate staff.
11. India and Pakistan are the best of friends. We're just pretending to have bad relations to get money and equipment and nukes from the West/China.
12. The bigger the vehicle, the greater its right of way on the road. Also, the louder the horn, the greater the right of way. The formula to calculate right of way is vehicle area^(horn decibel*hooting frequency).
13. India is the opposite of the USA. We have 3 times your population living on 1/3rd the land area. How about a land swap? You guys move to India and keep all the cows. We move to the USA and keep all the roads.
14. The bumps you feel when riding on the road are absolutely normal. No, there was no earthquake recently in Delhi.
15. Don't get worried if every bus you see says TA TA. We are not abrogating your visit, TATA's just the GM+Ford+Morton's of India.
16. Cultivate an Indian accent and call yourself Dubey. Answer the phone calls at your embassy.
17. The Kashmir problem will be solved overnight. Ask Musharraf to take Bihar as well. He will immediately refuse, upon which we keep both.
18. With bird flu taking over the world, the new terrorist threat is a brown person with chickens. Avoid these at all costs. Alternatively, bring Dick Cheney along. Even if he doesn't get the birds, he'll definitely get his man.

01 March 2006

Dubya

This made my morning coming in to lab:



Disclaimer: W, nothing personal, I'm sure there would be funny bumper stickers if the other guys were the ones ruling.