30 November 2007

Tagged by Twisted DNA

So, way back when, when the world was young, and before my life changed literally into a travelling circus, the incredibly funny mr. twisted dna had tagged me to come up with a few of my favourite things...

finally after consuming some good scotch on the rocks, and upon not finding myself asleep as would normally be the case after such consumption, and not having the internet connection die on me every 12 seconds, I decided to tackle his tag.

I added a twist to the favourites tag... since I moved continents and all... I'm gonna talk about my favourite things that I missed when I was away from home... so here goes...

Mosi Lager - believe it or not my name comes from a beer from the Republic of Zambia... needless to say, I missed this a lot when I was in the States. Now that I'm back... I've only had 2 in about 3 weeks... but they were goooooooood... and before you think i'm an alcoholic... no way i'm an alcoholic, i'm just a scientist.

Switches - in Zambia... the switches to turn things on and off all go the proper, logical way. This is a huge relief because now I don't have to test... I can just look and see if something is on or off. The logical way is that you flip the switch down for ON and flip it up for OFF. Joy... immense joy ensues...

Driving - very happy to drive on the proper side of the road, i.e. the left side. Now people who have driven on the right all their lives may argue with me, but there is only one proper side of the road to drive and that is the left. This is because I am right handed... just like >80% of the world. My right hand is far better at controlling things than my left hand... kendo swords, pens, dumbbells, javelins, pool cues, steering wheels... you get the picture. So right hand steering, left hand gearbox. And don't start with automatic transmissions... I hate them. Manual is the way to go... otherwise just hire a robot to do the driving.

TV - When I first landed in the USA, every channel on TV was showing one thing - a white truck on some highway being chased by several cars. I came across CNN once and they were talking about some farmer and his pig in north carolina, usa as part of their world news. Somehow... didn't strike me as world news. If one solely watches US news... there are no countries called India or Zambia or even New Zealand... there are no sports called cricket or badminton... Now when I turn on the TV.. guess what... India Pakistan test match, UEFA championships, New Zealand - South Africa one-dayers and even rugby... cup... runneth... over... and if I feel melodramatic... B4U and Zee are just a remote click away for Indian songs / movies... laawaris... sharaabi... and some weird movie called kiss kis ko... bbc news... and the british media actually realises the existence of asia and africa. Even the history channel is better over here, watched a show about the history of the Russian navy for about 2 hours... they have a 300 year old history. History channel in the US is all about how great the US is... and innumerable and neverending footage of world war II.

Sports - I just have to walk outside to find a cricket game... and a football game... and did I mention it's summer... and it doesn't get above 33 degrees... ooooh celsius... and centimetres... units that make sense... .woohooo!!!!

TATA - did you know that TATA Africa has been making life easier for all South Africans? I didn't either... and probably never would have in the states.

Walking - I get to walk a lot here... you can actually go to 2 different shops in one trip by walking... and not having to jump in the car, drive 2 minutes across pedestrian inaccessible roads to get to the next store...

No killings - no kid goes to school and kills anybody else... doesn't happen. guns are fairly heavily restricted here so feel good about that.

OK so now what do I miss about the US?

Well... at this point... fast, always on internet... internet here is kinda slow and not around all the time and liable to do weird things... and i have access to one of the best in the country.

Rich - poor divide - not as obvious where I was in the US.. probably because I was one of the poorest... now it's the other way... and it's fairly in-your-face... so that feels bad.

Work - I only start work in Jan... on paper it looks good to have 6 weeks of vacation... but it's boring as hell if nobody else is vacationing with you. me wants to do some research... my curiosity is killing me... research, NOW!!!!

The Angel - The angel was this black Honda Prelude I used to have. Best car ever... it died about 3 years ago... still miss it. Haven't seen anything like that here... just corollas and more corollas :(

No walls around houses - Houses / apartments in Lusaka have big walls with razor wire / broken bottles / electric fences on top of them so nobody can climb over. So everything looks quite forbidding. I miss the security of the US... even though some people may call that security illusory.

Well, as always, if you want to take up this tag, please list a few of your favourite things... and no reference to the sound of music.

02 November 2007

Ph.D. student anthem

(Sing to the tune of... Rock Star by Nickelback, with due apologies to the band)

I'm through with standing in line
to the parking lots I'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth
and I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out
quite the way I want it to be

(tell me what you want)

I want a brand new project
with a PI who rocks
And a laboratory I can play baseball in
And a king size bench big enough
for ten plus me

(yeah,so what you need)

I'll need a, a HHMI grant that's got no limit
And a big huge office with a bedroom in it
Gonna never leave lab if
At all I can help it

(Been there done that)

I want new libraries full of old articles
And my own name in the Nobel Committee
Somewhere between Crick and
Amartya Sen is fine for me

(So how ya gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this research for a Ph.D.,
I'd even finish my manuscript to impress my committee,

[CHORUS]
'Cause we all just wanna be big postdocs
Live in our labs reading fifteen graphs
The grants come easy and the reagents come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't sleep
And we'll hang out in the coolest labs
With the scientists who discovered Alzheimer's and SARS
Every good student's
Gonna wind up there
Every good project
will be in our lair
and well..
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc

I wanna be great like Salk without the hassle
Order around eight techies who love to clone and dazzle
Attend a couple product seminars
So I can eat my meals for free

(I have a quesadilla... on the house)

I'm gonna dress my ass
In a nerdy fashion
Get a front door key to the BSL-4 mansion
Gonna date a lab computer that loves to
Run my simulations for me

(So how ya gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this research for a Ph.D.,
I'd even finish my manuscript to impress my committee,

'Cause we all just wanna be big postdocs
Live in our labs reading fifteen graphs
The grants come easy and the reagents come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't sleep
And we'll hide out in the conference rooms
With the latest manuscripts
for today's review
We'll get you any collaborator
with that knowing smile
Everybody's got a
nobel winner on speed dial
well..
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc

I'm gonna do the research
that disproves the naysayers
Gonna dispense my solutions
from high throughput pipeters
Get Beckman robots doing all my stuff
And the reviewers just can't get enough

'Cause we all just wanna be big postdocs
Live in our labs reading fifteen graphs
The grants come easy and the reagents come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't sleep
And we'll hide out in the conference rooms
With the latest manuscripts
for today's review
We'll get you any collaborator
with that knowing smile
Everybody's got a
Nobel winner on speed dial
well..

Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc

28 October 2007

booboo's goodbye

Lova's posted a masterful video on the dog blog about booboo saying bye to me...

The lack of posts - myself very busy finishing things up and getting ready for the big move... but I'll have a lot of time in about 3 weeks to continue harassing the readers of this blog.

02 October 2007

I knew the dollar was going down but...

... my life savings of 100 dollars are now worth about 1 british pence...



(click here for original article)

19 September 2007

Chicago

The lamppost holds its own

13 September 2007

Random news of the day

Wife visits boyfriend; husband turns up with a concrete block and finds wife alone; husband in critical condition with head injuries at local hospital.

Moral of the story: make sure you aim well if all you have is a concrete block and your enemy has an automobile.

(original story here)

The brave one

Well, there's good news, and there's bad news. The good news is, there's finally a Hollywood movie about a non-stereotyped Indian guy (and even closer to reality, he has a dog, probably a german shepherd). He even gets to date the heroine, I think. Yay. The bad news is that he gets killed within the first 5 minutes. The movie producers were so close to winning my heart, but they blew it. Well, if Jodie Foster wears a sari somewhere in the movie I'll love the producers again.

Here's the IMDB link to "The brave one".

The bowler

Unity of body and mind

23 August 2007

Birthday II

By a happy quirk of fate, my birthdays this year are on consecutive days, 23rd and 24th. So I have a 48 hour long birthday. Of course some people get jealous when they find out that I have 2 birthdays a year and refuse to acknowledge one of them - to those people I say, "Tchaaah." Well, actually I say, "Some years I have 3 birthdays, like last year." Unfortunately, my efforts at making them feel happy about this usually fail. They should actually feel lucky, I don't absolutely insist on 2 birthday presents a year. They can be happy about once every 17 years as I only have 1 birthday then. So my jealous friends, be patient, your time will come.

So anyway there's a tradition on this blog (started by Lova aka the Malagasy dwarf hippo and GingaBoo) that visitors should wish me happy birthday in the language of their choice as a comment on this post. So please, feel free to click here and add some more colourful language to the mix. So far we have English, Doggish, French, Creole from La Reunion, Malagasy, Filipino, Malay, Tamil, Malayalam, German, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Marathi, Mallu-Warrier, !hosa.

There's another tradition on the blog for my birthday, which is that I should allow everyone to laugh their heads off at me. Last year I posted a suitable picture for the purpose, and, well, will do the same thing this year too. The first photo is from about 1996, after I got a haircut:

R1

This second picture is from 1998 after a further reduction:

R2

Go ahead, laugh away. But remember, I still have the hair for juju (black magic) purposes so don't laugh too hard.

Update - here's the cake my lovely friends made for me... somehow I think that they have the upper hand even though it was my birthday:

Birthday candles

22 August 2007

I just had to post this picture

Looking at the spider

I know self-promotion not so good but I love this photo I took yesterday, dedicated to my sister for her birthday. I've kept her in a bad mood for a couple of weeks now (sorry to the brother-in-law for that as well).

20 August 2007

A bird in hand...

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
How would this translate into various ideologies?

Bushism – God spoke to me and told me that the three birds constitute an axis of evil. We want the birds dead or alive. Yes I know the CIA trained the birds.

Blairism – Same as Bushism, just on a different continent and with a posh-er accent.

Musharraf-ism – Hey, Bush, pay me a few million and I'll get the birds for you. If you don't I'll give the birds nukes. Hey, birds, give up one of your own to me and I'll pay you to make more birds.

Osama-ism – India, America and Israel have a soft spot for the birds. We'll infiltrate a trained bird of our own to blow itself and the other birds up. This will contribute to the greater glory of me... err I mean God.

Capitalism
– The bird in the hand should do double the work for half the money or we'll outsource the job to the birds in the bush.

Communism – Cut up the bird in hand and distribute its parts to the birds in the bush.

Non-aligned movement-ism – We protest the overworking of the bird and the cutting up of the bird. Now treat us like we are important. No, we don't have any solutions.

Greenpeace-ism – The bird's poop should be protected. Do not remove it.

Science prof-ism – how is the bird in hand different from the birds in the bush? i want 200,000 for 2 years, 1 postdoc and a graduate student to work on this most important problem. The answers will solve HIV, cancer, and get us to Mars (but maybe not in my lifetime).

Ph.D. student-ism – How can I leverage this situation to help me graduate sometime before the decade ends and/or get free pizza/beer?

Philosopher – Just what is a bird anyway? Is it an extension of man's desire to fly?

Freudism – The stories you heard about the birds and the bees has probably caused this interest in birds. This explains your depression right now.

Religious person – God wanted the bird to come to you. Thank Him for this precious gift and He, if he wants, will gift you the other two birds.

Atheism – The bird was attracted by the scent of your breakfast on your hand. The birds in the bush have better survival instincts.

(OK, this post was subconsciously affected by the brilliant article – You have two cows. Here's a link to another post that was inspired by the two cows.)

10 August 2007

The second day from hell

Well I've had an exceptional run of good luck for a few weeks without anything bad happening but today seems to be the day from hell. Thus far it's been going well, the camera is awesome, the new lens is super-awesome, job search is going well, India is in a good position to thump England 2-0 in the test series.

So of course today had to happen to remind me that it doesn't pay to be too happy. I woke up pretty early in the morning because I heard the cat scratching around somewhere. Turns out she was scratching my computer keyboard, which is now missing 3 keys. Missing, as in I have no idea where they are. There's about a 1m radius where the keys should be, but they are not there. Turning on the red light and subjecting the cat to interrogation yielded no results other than a couple of scratches. She pretended to know nothing.

Well, following the interrogation the cat decided to perform her morning rituals. Now I don't have the world's greatest nose, but the stench from the litterbox almost brought tears to my eyes and banished any semblance of sleep. So in the interests of my continued existance on the planet I cleaned out the litterbox.

During this litterbox cleaning, when I was bent over the offending offal, my back suddenly protested. I think I heard a shriek coming from it. So I dropped to the bed and lay down, crawled my way to the computer with the missing keys, and googled "back pain can't stand". Dr. Google informed me that the most likely explanation for my condition is a lumbar sprain or strain, aka whenever i try to do anything my back hurts... a lot. The treatment? Well... rest. And 2 painkillers.

So this is about the worst time for me to rest in bed for a few days. And this is because the usual support staff are not present. They are either camping or gallavanting off to New York for a lot of fun. In New Yorker's defense, he came back from his way to the airport to get me painkillers and walk the dogs and feed the cat. And yet I am complaining, that is the human condition. Originally this was supposed to be a wonderful weekend, with me in charge of the animals and showing them lots of discipline and getting all their bad habits sorted out. (That's the official word from me to the others - the reality is that I was going to spoil them rotten so that BooBoo and the cat's affections switch to me.... drat, foiled, like my other plans of being a millionaire by the time I'm 30.) For people who worry about titles of blog posts that do not make sense, here's a link to the post about the first day from hell. Hey, the cat finally noticed that something is wrong and she came over, lay down next to me, touching my arm and is licking it while purring. Awww, sweet cat. If only she didn't like to destroy keyboards and doggies so much!

Now I'm going to continue to lay down, get to work on the manuscripts, and see when I can get to lab in one piece. In the meantime, have a look at some insects I got yesterday while walking the doggies:

Moth

Proboscis

Butterfly heaven

Breakfast

03 August 2007

Waiting

Waiting

She's far away from home,
she's still carrying her burden.
Is she waiting for someone who
can help to share the load?


Thanks to Ali for helping with post-processing of the picture.

31 July 2007

Facebook site down...


... and the world experiences a 6% increase in economic output...

imagine if blogger went down... all of the world's problems would be solved. We'd stop bitching about them on blogs and actually do something about it...

22 July 2007

If the Harry Potter series was written by...

Tom Clancy -
Harry Ryan would be fighting the reconstituted Soviet Union led by Voldermovich. Apparently after Voldermorovich's (also known as you-know-who because nobody can pronounce the name) spies assassinate the entire US leadership with a nuke, Harry Ryan becomes President with the lowest approval rating since W. He finds out through some super-duper satellite technology that you-know-who has taken charge of a nuclear sub and is streaming towards the US. Ron's friend Harry is on a US submarine where he uses Fred and George's extendable ears to eavesdrop on you-know-who's submarine and finds out that you-know-who actually wants to defect to the US and in fact Severe Snapovich is the one who ordered the attack. Rest of the book focuses on bringing you-know-who to the US undetected while Severe is held back by the threat of the US navy.

Enid Blyton -
Draci Malfoy is a rich spoilt girl who attends Hoggery Towers and tries to lord it over everyone there. Her sycophants do her homework for her. Her only rival is Harriet Rivers who is honest, brave, and struggles with a horrible temper. Harriet Rivers tries to exclude Draci from fun things like midnight parties and swimming in the moat. This keeps going on for 7 books or so till it turns out that Draci is actually not that rich, and has no chance of marrying a wealthy guy because she goes to a girl's school and has no idea how to behave around men. So she has to get a job. The end.

Goscinny and Uderzo
The year is 50 B.C. All of France is taken over by Julius Volder and his minions. Well, not quite all, as there is one village surrounded by armed camps that still holds out. This is a village of wizards and witches, where the only guy without any magic (Filchix) is tied up routinely at village festivals. Harrix and Hagrix are best of friends and keep running up to Volder's friends to cause trouble with magic taught to them by their druid, Dumbledorix.

P.G. Wodehouse
Hermione gets herself engaged to Harry when she has a fight with Ron. Draco is also in love with Hermione. When Draco is not at his day job designing underwear for women, he runs the 'Malfoy Youth,' a club whose members like to parade around in khaki shorts and swastikas and talk of the coming revolution. He threatens to break Harry into 5 pieces if Harry hurts Hermione in any way. Dumbledore, Harry's faithful butler, arranges for hired hands to try to kidnap Hermione, whereupon Ron is supposed to come and save her. Unfortunately Draco gets there and beats up the hired hands, rescuing Hermione, and earning her love. Harry is in the clear but Ron is extremely unhappy. The rest of the series consists of Harry being engaged to Ginny, Parvati, Pansy etc. while his Aunt Petunia tries to set him up with McGonagall. How will he escape this mess? Why, ask Dumbledore.

Ian Fleming
Agent H works for the shadowy British secret service MI5. He travels the world fighting Voldermort's henchmen by drinking, gambling, and picking up lots of women. Even though he never calls the women the next day, they still love him when they see him 5 years later. The "Potter, Harry Potter" line never fails. He has a flirty relationship with Dumbledore's secretary Hermione. There are other agents who work for MI5, but they are expendable and die at Voldermort's hands 10 minutes after you meet them.

The Wachowski Brothers
Dumbledore says to Harry, "Take the honey flavoured Bertie Botts' beans and you wake up in your bed, take the earwax flavoured one and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." Harry obviously takes the earwax flavoured one and discovers that the world of muggles is an illusory place dreamed up by Voldermort. A prophecy exists that says that Harry is the one who will bring down Voldermort and introduce the dreaming muggles to sucky reality. Nobody asks the muggles if that is what they really want. The wizards' and witches' magic in this turns out to be gravity defying stunts and cloning. In the end Harry triumphs and tells the muggles that they must wake up and face a 13th century existance till they rebuild everything that the war destroyed.

This one is from Amrita:
Douglas Adams' version
- Harrod Beeblebrox is known as the Human who survived the demolition of Planet Hograthea. This has made a lot of galactic citizens very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
In desperate search of Harrod, is Vogonmort. It's widely known that Vogonmort's rendition of Avadra Kedavra has fatal effects on the listener. To aid Harrod if his search for muffliators is Albus Prefect who has written the Apparator's guide to the Galactical World. Harrod is accompanied in his travels by Magrid, the depressed giant, Trione, chief researcher and Von - the driver of the Hippogrif.

From Shilpa... if Orhan Pamuk wrote Harry Potter:

I will be called ,"He who must not be named"
I am extraordinary.I am aware of it.By the grace of our Exalted Wizard , I have been born to strike terror.I will live on ,immortal,in service to our great Wizard.The Headmaster,really an ordinary sort,has no inkling of the power...[read the entire post, it's hilarious].

17 July 2007

How to find the perfect woman

It's very simple. Observe carefully her drinking habits. If you think these habits are compatible with the remainder of your life, go for it. Several common drinking types are mentioned below:

1. The sorry, no thank you - this one does not drink alcohol, no, not even secretly when no one is watching. If you look forward to 1 year of half-bottle (beer, not wine) and the remaining years of no bottle, this is the one for you. (See also No. 5 for an important addendum).

2. The sipper - These women think drinking is a VERY BAD THING, but they have a sip every now and then. They are usually guilty of terrible alcohol abuse - you know, wasting it. It takes a man with good 'kapaasitee' to be the knight in shining armour in this case. Not only does he have to finish the whole drink (which will likely be some mix with just enough alcohol that a bloodhound can detect if he falls right in it), he has to handle the guilt trip afterwards. Probably drinking some more would help.

3. The sleeper - This type drinks just enough to get sleepy, and then dozes off. So much for the old standby of trying to get her drunk. It's much much harder to trick a girl into marriage when she refuses to wear beer goggles. It's also terribly hard to dance when the only partner you have is in dreamland on the bar table. Best to avoid unless one is strong enough to carry her around.

4. The screamer - After a couple of drinks, this one gets very loud, boisterous and uninhibited enough to share dirty jokes with the public. Drags almost everyone to the dance floor and seems to know every single person in the bar. Occasionally can be embarrassing when she points out horrible clothing on someone who just happens to be within earshot. Best avoid making romantic overtures when she is drunk - this one is just out for a good time with romance-radar turned off.

5. The sexy one - She gets very flirtatious after several drinks. All in good fun, except if a guy is around that she is actually interested in, she'll get shy. If you happen to be the object of interest, do not confuse this type of girl with No. 1. Some discreet enquiries to her normal drinking companions are usually enough to discriminate between No. 1 and No. 5. Usually escorted home by the best friend when random guys start taking the flirtation seriously. No, there's no point in trying to be the protective best friend - he never gets invited in at the end of the night and his gallant actions are forgotten by the morning.

6. The super soaker - She matches you shot for shot and beer for beer. She can hold the drink with the best of them and converse knowledgeably about the merits of single vs blended scotch. She doesn't complain about hangovers either. This one is extremely rare and a keeper - should you find a girl like this then never leave the house without her.

OK, so having killed all pretense of political correctness with this post, I should post a disclaimer saying that it was all in jest and no right thinking boy should pick a woman based solely on her skills with the bottle (although it may be better than picking solely for looks). Also don't drink too much and if your friends think you do, then get help... now. The account is not based on any person, living or dead, and is solely the product of Dr. Mosi's rather fertile imagination when sleep deprived and hungry. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is solely due to the fertile imagination of the reader.

11 July 2007

Will it survive

Will it survive?

the coming storm?

10 July 2007

Political correctness gone awry

I do good things every once in a while, and it was the turn of HIV in Africa the other day when I donated blood to this cause (If anyone is interested, contact Lova). Anyway I engaged the lady taking the blood (LTB) in conversation:

LTB: donating blood, hey?
Mosi: yeah, Lova's begging email asking for volunteers finally got me in here. i live with him
(at this point everything was fine... but given that i was a bit nervous about having a big needle stuck in me, I continued on)..

... though not in the biblical sense...
...not that there's anything wrong with that...

score mosi 0; political correctness 1

08 July 2007

The end of all things

Wilted

These flowers wilted in their time. The red turned to brown, the petals shriveled, the odour dissipated. They achieved immortality as the memories they represented are still alive.

04 July 2007

20 June 2007

Indian Idol

Season 3 of Indian Idol is running - I happened to catch the wild card round - and before you ask - "if I tell you how I'll have to kill you." OK the videos are online at the official site here.


11 people had already gone through to the finals. 18 people had been voted off. Out of the 18 who had been voted off, the judges picked 6 of the best and brought them back to compete against each other. The audience would get to pick 2 out of these to join the 11 in the finals. The first thing I noticed...


...was that these two are actually not gay. It's absolutely fine for heterosexual men in most parts of India to hold hands, hug, put a hand of the thigh of the other and nobody will think twice about it. Same applies to girls. As long as it's platonic everyone is OK with it. The only problem is that they assume that all male-female contact is non-platonic. That's a fairly silly restriction I think, but then again I keep complaining about people mistaking Victorian England traditions for ancient Indian traditions.

The judges are Javed Akhtar, a famous lyricist / writer, Alisha Chinai, who's probably the Paula Abdul equivalent, and Udit Narayan, a famous film singer. Javed Akhtar is the most Simon-like but he's not as direct as Simon, he'll still use the formal version of the language while talking to the contestants. Udit Narayan seems to want to vote no one off and loves everyone.


The standard of singing was really high. Singing looks like it can be outsourced too, compared to what I've seen on American Idol. And these were the people who didn't make it, they're as good as the top 5 of the American Idol thing. This guy was my favourite as a rock singer, his name is Amit Paul:


Suhit can hold a tune, but his voice sucks compared to the left and he doesn't seem talented. However he's getting by on good looks. I think he's the Malaker of the competition. Alisha is completely bowled over by him and it didn't seem all platonic either.


So after his singing Udit Narayan and Alisha Chinai praised him to the heavens and Javed Akhtar tried to avoid the issue by saying that he respected the opinions of the other judges. He tore Suhit a new one when pressed on the issue (all the time using the extremely polite version of the language):

Alisha: he has a lot of magic, a lot of colour
Javed A: i think that despite all your style and magic ultimately there should be no deficiency in your singing.
As long as your singing is bad, everything else is fringe benefits.
it's like a car, it might have good seats, a dvd player, even a television but if it doesn't run then it is not a car, it is something else.


Now I'm waiting to know who continued into the finals.

One of the guys who's already in the finals is an Indian guy of Chinese origin called Meiyang Chang. He has a blog and sings pretty well. I must say it's nice to hear somebody who looks Chinese speaking /singing in perfect hindi.






Sony's being extremely sucky on the show by pimping sony ericsson phones. There's a cardboard phone right by the judges and the host keeps exhorting people to sms using their sony ericsson phone and the camera focuses in on the phone in her hand. It makes me want to never get a sony ericsson phone.

06 June 2007

No fair!

At dinner:

Scientist 1: I'm so not used to my experiments NOT working. I can't figure out what's wrong.

Scientist 2: You gotta watch your audience before you make comments like that. 'Cos me and Sci 3 are definitely the wrong audience.

Scientist 3: I'm going to blog that.

03 June 2007

News of India, 12 June, 2020

National:
Recent protests by the minority 'Brahmin' community in New Delhi have highlighted the need for reform of the national reservations policy. The Brahmins want to be included in the 'Harijan' or 'Untouchable' category, alleging widespread discrimination against them (Brahmins) in education and jobs. Originally one of the most educated groups in India, today the Brahmins cannot get into the school system after passing kindergarten due to 99.99% of places being reserved for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. They cite earlier incidents such as the 'Kshatriyas' succeeding in becoming Harijans after a depurification ceremony. Since Thursday, Brahmins have blocked major highways in the country by setting up fires. Police had to resort to firing in one or two places to contain the agitators. 2 members of Brahmin community died in the firing and government has announced the sum of Rs. 25 lakhs to their families. The community has rejected the monetary compensation, saying that 'it is not enough to even buy wood for their funeral pyre.' Brahmins have called for a bandh (shutdown) of New Delhi until their demands are met.

The RSS has gone to several people's homes and disrupted their morning showers. They said that taking showers was not part of ancient Indian traditions and warned that people should only take showers once every 5 years. A spokesperson of the RSS rejected allegations introduced in a book by a former member that the group was actually funded by a British society called 'Back to the 1700s.'

International:
Pakistani President General Hadji Omar Musharraf bin Laden-Dawood al Talibani has said that Islamic science of Pakistan from Holy Quran is ten times superior to western science of India and they would soon launch a joint manned mission to Pluto with China. He thundered, "We will have a Pluto shot, even if Pakistanis have to eat grass." Upon being told that all the grass was finished to pay for the nuclear programme, he revised his statement to include 'astroturf' instead. India had thus far only sent a manned mission to Mars, therefore the Pakistani space programme is far better. He added that the people of the disputed territory of North India wanted to be Pakistani and territorial disputes should be handled by talks. He said if India persisted in denying the Kashmiris, Gujaratis, Himachalis, Uttar Pradeshians and Bengalis their right to self-determination then more jihadis would target India and he would be unable to stop them. He also added that he needs 1 trillion Chinese Yuan from India in order to stop the Talibani army stationed in Afghanistan from overrunning Pakistan and stealing the Pakistani nuclear weapons. The Talibanis would definitely target major Indian cities with the nuclear weapons. The president insisted that he was 1000% sure of Talibani nuclear threat to India because his father in law heads the Taliban.

Sports:
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly say that they have no problems with Coach Gilchrist and Gilchrist's controversial comments to blogger Dr. Mosi about 'old geezers ruining the team with their presence' were not directed towards them. Gilchrist was in fact talking about bowlers Piyush Chawla and Sreesanth. Nevertheless, mock funerals of Gilchrist were conducted throughout the country and even in places such as Dubai and Nairobi. Sachin and Sourav promised to end their spell of ducks in several matches with the next one, due to be played against Papua New Guinea in Chennai. They said that they were very disappointed at India not qualifying for the world cup in 2022 but Zambia had proved to be too tough to beat.

Entertainment:
Rahul Bachchan, son of Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, will marry Kartika Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi's daughter. Kartika said, "It was the only way to keep the country in the family. Since Amitabh is President, and my dad is Prime Minister, our family wishes to raise the next generation to serve the people of this country. We have sacrificed a lot. Our family had given India, Pakistan and Bangladesh independence single-handedly. My grandmother made history by running India from Italy. My grandfather and his brother died for India. We will continue to make sacrifices in future also. By the way, this interview was brought to you by Boeing. Make sure your next flying car is a Boeing."

Salman Khan will be in court amidst allegations that he killed a protected bird, the vulture. The miniscule Zoroastrians in the country (all 10 of them) consider the vulture holy and have sued the actor for this breach of law. Rumour has it that Khan offered them 100 billion Yuan to drop the suit but the vulture is more important for the Zoroastrian people. The entire Bollywood industry has come out in support of Khan, while Maneka Gandhi has called for the death sentence. There are only 500 birds remaining in the whole of India, and only 50 of these are vultures.

Sanjay Dutt asked for an extension from the court for the gun-owning case of 1993, in which he was convicted of possession of illegal arms. He had been sentenced to 5 years in jail, but since then has not served his term as he repeatedly argued that he is the only breadwinner in his family and the public will not let him stop working on the next 'Munnabhai,' entitled, "Munnabhai and Cleopatra," to be shot entirely in Belgium.

The end

27 May 2007

Neo wears Denim

I have mixed Neo, Denim and K2 templates for the new Blogger to come up with some kind of Frankenstein template that I call Neo wears Denim. For those who haven't heard about Neo, it is a template designed by Ramani of Hackosphere to speed up blogsites. Normally when you click on a post / archive page / what have you on a blog, the entire blog reloads. Ramani changed this so that when you click on a post title only the post reloads, thus speeding up the blog considerably.

He designed a great looking template, and I have taken the liberty of redoing my favourite template to incorporate the speed advantages of Neo.
Here is a screenshot:


Here's how to get my version of the template:
1. There are 2 versions of the template, one with the sidebar on the left, the second with the sidebar on the right (Click on each for working demo).
2. The "Neo wears denim" template with left sidebar is available here for download.
3. The "Neo wears denim" template with right sidebar is available here for download.
3. Before changing your blog template, please read the instructions posted by Ramani otherwise you may lose all your customised stuff like widgets and so on.
4. Please remember to backup your original template just in case things go wrong. Happy skinning. Let me know if something doesn't work right and I can try to fix it.

09 May 2007

error 404

This happened on the Schiphol airport website:



If only it had also said, "additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request," that would have brought back some more memories of the early netscape navigator.

05 May 2007

Lova's birthday (and he's on BBC)

So I'm sure everyone remembers my good buddy Mr. Lova Lova. In addition to blogging on the dog blog, his own blog as well as global voices, now he's on the BBC. Awesome! Congratulations to Doctor Lova Lova. P.S. it's his birthday on the 4th so go on over and congratulate him. He's a very very OLD MAN.

04 May 2007

How to propose to a scientist

The other day I had occasion to think about how one would go about proposing to a scientist. This is what I came up with.

Dear PZV [use initials]

I have completed part of my life cycle but feel empty due to the lack of a genome. I have interacted with many others, but my affinity towards them was low. When I interacted with you I recognised you specifically as being perfect for me. Please come through the portal and take up your residence inside my capsid. I promise to keep you safe from threats such as antibodies and complement. I can offer you the world, we can interact with multiple hosts in Asia, Africa, Europe, or anywhere there are any living things. If you love extreme sports, we can hang out in hot sulphur vents, under the Antarctic ice sheets, or deep in the ocean. If you love risk and are selfless, we can always be in lab, sacrificing our lives for the good of humanity. I don't mind where it is, as being with you completes my life cycle. Let us get together and assemble progeny.

Yours always

ABV


There are no guarantees for this working, so don't blame me if your would-be fiancee throws the ring back and runs away for dear life. Of course the sure fire way to get a scientist would be to promise funding their pet projects with grants for the rest of their lives :) Then I guarantee she will never leave.

24 April 2007

Extremist gobbledegook

Everyone has opinions. Some people want others to join them in having similar opinions. To get people's attention these days some graphic imagery and headlines that force people to read more are in use these days. This causes those holding rival opinions to present their case as well as they can. So from watching these battles, I have learnt the following things.

1. People who are for abortion are baby killers who will go to hell.
2. People who are against abortion think that women should be pregnant, barefoot, in the kitchen and seen but not heard.

3. Anybody who voted for Bush and Republicans in general is uneducated, married to close cousins and hate non-white people. Or they are filthy rich and want to keep everyone else poor.
4. Anybody who voted for the Democrats wants the US to be unsafe, wants the 'terrorists' to take over Iraq and Afghanistan, and in general is a traitor of the highest magnitude.

5. Religious belief only leads to terrorism and other people getting hurt/killed/having their ability to think independently taken away. Some religious people who spend their lives not interacting with anyone may do some good but that's about the end of it.
6. Religion is the best thing on the planet. It is the truth and nobody who follows it is involved in any sort of bad activities. If everyone believed in the same religion, everyone would be in a state of bliss on earth and post-life enter heaven. Atheism is the worst thing on the planet and atheists will have a bad life and afterlife.

7. Anyone who commits acts of violence has played too many violent video games. That is the sole reason for their actions.
8. It's OK for kids to watch people beating each other up and killing other people but not to see a female breast on TV (about half the world has breasts that would be banned on TV - what's the big deal?)

9. USA is the most important country on the Earth. They have a right to most of the world's resources. Anything they do to keep this status quo is good. Anything any other country does to give their own people a greater share of world resources is being anti-USA. Anything bad that happens in any country is due to the involvement of the CIA / American agents.
10. USA being the richest country has a responsibility to bring security, freedom and democracy to everybody else. They spend a lot of money on other countries and the UN / WHO to make sure of this. Everybody should love them as much as they love themselves.

Ah well I think I'll just stop believing in everything. Sab maya hai. "Everything is illusion."

17 April 2007

Indian Navy, Australia, Sri Lanka and World Cup

Today Australia beat Sri Lanka fairly comprehensively. Sri Lanka went into the dead rubber* without 3 of their best players. Malinga was injured and they did not want to risk him, nobody knows why Vaas and Murali didn't play. It might have something to do with keeping some surprises in order to ambush the Aussies later. The Aussies have played Murali and Vaas enough times, but they have never seen Malinga in action. He does have a way of dazzling batsmen who face him for the first time because of his hairdo as well as his weird bowling action and disconcerting pace (nobody expects a 1.7m guy to bowl at 140 kph).

Anyway this reminded me of a much trumpeted incident back in the day where a Royal Australian Air Force spy plane did a fly-by on the Indian Navy's newly constructed destroyer, INS Delhi. The Delhi was basically made in Indian shipyards and the West did not have much of an idea about its radar signature etc. So in order to ascertain this, the Aussie plane decided to see if they could get Delhi to switch on her radar and such to grab some signatures. The IN decided that they should keep such information in reserve (just in case they needed to surprise the Aussies later) and did not turn anything on. In usual style, India lodged a complaint at the Australian consulate about their Air Force coming too close to the ship. This complaint did not really do anything for anyone, and we got our ship spied on without any consequences to those doing the spying. The IN doesn't need to do such things as we (probably) have access to Russky data about Western ships / planes etc. At least I hope we have that access. We buy enough from the Rodina for them not to share that data.


(image from Bharat-Rakshak's Delhi page)

Hopefully Sri Lanka's surprise strategy against Australia works. I don't have anything against the Aussies, but somebody should be able to beat them, otherwise they will have gone unbeaten in world cups since 1999. Sri Lanka's hiding of their main players basically means that they think they are inferior to the Australians, so they are using ambush tactics to gain the advantage. Australians are no shrinking violets either with their language on and off the field, trying to gain advantage through psychological pressure so let's see how these mind games play out if these two teams meet in the final.

*dead rubber - match that does not mean anything in the overall scheme of things

12 April 2007

An affair with freedom

I needed a change. Middle-aged men have the luxury of having an affair and buying a sports car when they get into that mood. Unfortunately I am neither middle-aged, married, or have the money to buy a sports car. So I did the next best thing - window shopping.

Now normally I use Windows on whichever computer I have. This is mainly a function of windows coming bundled with the computer.* I have XP set up to work how I like it. But the time has come for a change. Probably not a divorce, more like an affair. So now I have an African mistress on the side, young, pretty, and living in an apartment away from the house.** The mistress is called Kubuntu Feisty Fawn, and what makes her so cool is that she lets me do whatever I want... and doesn't cost anything. She's very pretty because she comes with something called "beryl" which you can check out here. Beryl makes the operating system look like a girl in a hindi movie song. Windows "wobble" when you move them around, they disappear and appear with fiery or genie effects. You can even make it rain or snow on screen. Brilliant! There are also other useful things such as 'the cube' which lets you keep track of 4 affairs at once. Maybe that's a story for another day.

Beryl Rain effect

Unfortunately there does come a time when the affair has to end and I have to go back to the wife for the very simple reason that there are some things that only the wife can do. She may not do them prettily, but she is able to do them. So my affair is relegated to when I don't have to work on the thesis. And maybe someday the affair will have the ability to manage references... and then the affair shall take the wife's place.

For the more technically minded, I was amazed with Kubuntu Feisty Herd 5. This was the first linux distro I tried that found my wireless card and set up wpa just like windows would. If only there was a proper reference manager for it, I could move it to the main HD and forget about Windows for a bit. The open source, free parts are extremely attractive as well. With Microsoft engaging in more and more snooping, computer companies installing all sorts of trialware junk on the computer, it probably won't be long before I bid adieu to Windows. It's heartening that linux is getting so good for non-computer geek users like me. I did have some questions on setup but they were answered with a couple of mouse clicks on the ubuntu fora. There are some ways to work around the lack of a reference manager for openoffice, the most direct one being just to run endnote on wine. Something called Latex has been doing the rounds too, but the moment I have to mess with configuration files, I run. The lack of a citation (reference, bibliography) manager is probably what is stopping large-scale adoption of linux by universities.

* Yes, I asked them to send it without but they refused. I then asked if they could partition the hard drive into 2 for when windows needs a reinstall so I don't lose any data - no dice on that either so had to do it manually

** Why exactly can't windows be installed on an external hard drive? Such a silly restriction।

Edit: I've now spent about a week with Feisty. Thanks to StyleyGeek's input in the comments I looked around for an opensource endnote/reference manager/procite replacement and found Bibus. It does "cite while you write" for both ms word and openoffice. I've tested Bibus/MS word on xp and Bibus/Openoffice on Kubuntu. The advantage of using open source software is that it's portable to different OSes. So if tomorrow I'm stuck working on PC / Linux / Mac, whatever, it doesn't matter as the same files may be used. With the commercial software I'm stuck with either Windows or Mac. The disadvantage of Bibus is that I had to create my own style file for my journal of choice (this took about 5 minutes). It's worth noting that I had to modify the styles in reference manager for Windows as well for my favourite journals because the ones that came with the program were wrong. If you do work with Bibus and create your own style, please upload to the wiki here so that others can benefit from it.

03 April 2007

Styley meme

Styleygeek showed me hers and asked me to show her mine... so here it is:


And here's when all the hidden stuff comes out:


I sort of feel I should have had parrots on the desktop instead of BooBoo. Ah well I only have a dog obsession, not a parrot fixation. Oh, consider yourself tagged btw.

24 March 2007

Foreigners' guide to cricket

"You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.

When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game."

- from Mind your language (Mr. Brown aka Trevor Bannister)

No, no, it's not that sort of guide. I wanted to write this to explain some of the movers and shakers in men's cricketing world. For those who want to start following it, play it and all the rules will make sense. Overall the sport is sort of like a frankenstein monster made up of baseball and chess.

Australia - the best, the greatest etc. over the past 15 years. The only other team that can compete with them on an even keel is Australia B. They are hated in the cricketing world for their rude comments and arrogance that's almost always backed up by performance. They only fear fear itself (aka Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman of India). They've had some vulnerabilities be exposed in the past 2 months so the world cup may not be as one sided after all.

South Africa - Have all the skills necessary to be number 1. Almost always lose important matches, once famously by failing to read two numbers on a printout correctly (ok it was a tie but they got knocked out). Known as the chokers of world cricket.

Sri Lanka - Lots of talent with firepower to back it up. Strong title contenders this time. Have 2 magicians in their team - one of them with an Indian wife who was cheering for Sri Lanka during the last India-Sri Lanka match. He was also kept out of the game for a few months by an Australian umpire for no good reason. Conspiracy theorists attribute the reason to be so that an Australian player could have less competition during the time. The same umpire decided to beat up on Pakistan later, which did not go very well and caused his exit from the highest levels of the game.

West Indies - On any given day can lose or win to any other team. Inconsistency is the name of the game. Doesn't matter if it's Australia in front of them or Canada.

England - Filled the side with non-English origin cricketers. Notoriously bad travellers - they always come down with some stomach ailment and each is Shakespeare - always coming up with novel excuses for losing.

New Zealand - They always almost beat Australia, but lose to everyone else. They have a magician in their side called Shane Bond. Whenever he gets somebody out the commentators go, "Bond, Shane Bond." Also the only superfast bowler who does not throw.

Zimbabwe - They had a good side till recently. Mugabe took over the farms of most of the good people in the side and they left. The remaining players consolidated to make a team but the new captain "retired" at age 21 for getting death threats from the cricket baord.

Bangladesh - New entrants to the big leagues - young and fit. Win one match every 10 games or so, known as the "banana peel" for unexpectedly stopping some bigwigs. Endearing as one of them dropped a catch against India because he was distracted by watching such good players at close quarters (this was really early days). There was also the incident of asking the Aussie players for autographs after playing against them. Also the captain is known for attacking a ghost in a haunted hotel in England.

Pakistan - Bunch of geniuses - discovered by former players in neighbourhood games. Developed the art of "reverse-swing" which earned them the reputation of cheating until they taught everyone else how to do it. High-strung and inconsistent, they can also lose to any team on any day. Playing India brings out the best in each of them, no matter how badly they've done till then. 2006-2007 has been the worst year for them ever... it's been so bad that even Indians have started to feel sorry for them.

India - overhyped overpaid underperformers in one-day matches outside the subcontinent. Do well in one day matches at home and 5 day matches everywhere else. Face pressure from 1 billion fans every time they take the field. When they win they are treated like gods, when they lose they are treated like dirt. Media makes thousands of excuses when they lose - from regional tensions in the team to politics involving player selection. The players just say that they did not play well though they tried hard and right now they are part of a "process." Men in blue have proved to be babies in blue this world cup. Their early exit so far has led to 2 deaths by heart attacks and 1 death by suicide among fans.

Associated people (sorry, very India-centric):

Javed Miandad - ex-Pakistani player. much hated by fans of India due to his exploring the realms of the impossible to defeat India (the last-ball 6). Also watched by Indian security agencies for marrying his son to India's most wanted terrorist's daughter.

Imran Khan - ex-Pakistani player, now turned politician. Known for losing his wife to Hugh Grant's charms.

Steve Bucknor - Umpire of West Indian origin. Supposed to be neutral, yet serves as the 12th man on any side playing against India. Infamous for giving bad decisions that stopped India from winning their first test series in Australia against Australia.

Shoaib Akhtar - Pakistani fast bowler. Concentrates on throwing the ball at searing speeds at the expense of accuracy. For this usually serves as the opposing team's 12th man. Note: throwing the ball in cricket is illegal. He keeps injuring himself regularly and is in trouble for wine, women, injuries and performance-enhancing drugs.

Sanjay Manjrekar - ex-Indian cricket player turned commentator. Sounds depressed when India does well and does not have anything good to say about the team. Sounds happy when India does badly.

Sachin Tendulkar - God (recently has accepted human status)

Rahul Dravid - Practices very hard to be God. Unfortunately being God requires exceptional talent and can't be learned. He came close till he got saddled with the captaincy. Also known as the Great Wall of India.

Ravi Shastri - ex-Indian cricket player. Very popular with the ladies. Hosts the halftime 'Shaz and Waz show' featuring attractive women from the fans who turn out to watch cricket game.

Wasim Akram - ex-Pakistani cricket player. Co-host of 'Shaz and Waz show'. Also ladies' man and very popular in India. Spends most of his time in India playing golf when not commentating.

Brett Lee - Aussie fast bowler. Throws his faster balls trying to catch up in speed with Shoaib. Sings in hindi.

Irfan Pathan - Indian player. Started as fast bowler, became an all-rounder, then became a batsman, now doesn't play in team. Time for rise to fall is about 2 years. Known for cleaning up Adam Gilchrist of Australia with a reverse-swinging yorker.

Sunil Gavaskar - ex-Indian captain. His philosophy was honour above all.

Kapil Dev and Saurav Ganguly - ex-Indian captains. Philosophy was victory above all.

Mohammed Azharuddin - ex-Indian captain. Philosophy was money above all.

23 March 2007

Why India got kicked out of world cup

A list of excuses that the Indian team can use to explain their likely elimination from the world cup in the first round (Image from Cricinfo):

10.
Pakistani players Abdul Razzaq and Saqqi played for Bangladesh instead of Pakistan. That’s why India lost to them and Pakistan lost to Ireland.

9. It’s better for cricket – ICC asked India to give minnows more experience at the highest levels eg group of 8.

8. No point in trying as Pakistan got kicked out. We’re only in the world cup to beat Pakistan.

7. Players were too tense thinking about what would happen to their houses and endorsements if they lost.

6. Players’ wives and girlfriends were missing them and wanted them back early (especially Sehwag’s).

5. Companies that sponsor the team wanted them back early to star in advertisements. All this cricket was taking away from the dates the movie directors were available.

4. Tail enders should perform with bat as well under pressure. In order to give them some pressure under match conditions top order got out cheaply.

3. Team felt very sorry for beating Bangladesh 9/10 matches and Sri Lanka 8/10 matches recently. Did not want to be blamed for death of Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cricket due to more losses. Death of Indian cricket is OK.

2. Wanted to stay on the West Indies beaches, hang out with West Indies fans, and never go home.

1. Wanted to get citizenship of Bangladesh or Sri Lanka for tax evasion purposes.

Well in 4 years when the world comes to India it will be a different story. Captain Yuvi will take us all the way. Oh, btw The post I wanted to write is here. I really feel bad for the players, they tried their best but clearly did not have the fitness levels required for athletes in the world cup. 2 hours of good fielding and they were looking like those Kenyan marathon runners do after 50 km.

Here are a couple of enduring images from the world cup...
Bermuda's gravity and law of physics defying Dwayne Leverock (Image from cricinfo):


Australia being aggressive against Kenya (image received by email - will link to orig. source if somebody lets me know what it is. Actually Sreekumar posted it before I did):

Edit - Rajesh points out in the comments this is Aus vs. Zimbabwe in 99 and not this WC. Thanks, mate.

16 March 2007

Tag of 3 by Isha

3 things that scare me -
4 more years of Dubya
Global warming causing meltdown of blogger servers
Ice Age

3 people who make me laugh -
Douglas Adams
Steven Moffat
Roald Dahl

3 things I love
Water
Coconut trees
Music

3 things I hate
Injustice
Intolerance
Hypocrisy

3 things I don't understand
talking the talk but not walking the talk
make-up
being told what to believe

3 things on my desk
.357 magnum bullet
baby ginga toy
parker sonnet

3 things i'm doing right now
thinking about world cup
it must be hot there, would probably need some water
india all the way!

3 things I want to do before I die
go to mars
make somebody deliriously happy
get the UN a functional army

3 things I can do
scratch my back
speak random languages
sleep

3 things you should listen to
vathapi ganapathim
harp played by the seashore
redemption song by bob marley

3 things you should never listen to
listen to everything - decide what to retain and what to throw away

3 things i'd like to learn
flying
making good music
swimming

3 favourite foods
coconut
banana
chick peas

3 beverages I drink regularly
did I mention water?
milk
yoghurt

3 childhood TV shows / books
spiderman
lord of the rings
terry "he doesn't wear his underpants outside his jeans" teo

Amrita, Ramya and Sheetal, you ladies have been tagged.

09 March 2007

Everything tastes like chicken

Yes, even grass...

(from sify)
An enterprising calf decided that since everything, including grass, tastes like chicken, she better just go to the original source.

Now would this cow be classified as a holy cow? Will the dead chickens have a better next life for being sacrificed to a holy cow? Which came first, the chicken or the cow? Maybe the farmer got confused and the baby calf was actually Ginga's lost brother. Maybe he was just trying to get into the Chick-Fil-A ad.


03 March 2007

Le Roi Indien

We were all happy that the French football team was made up of people whose ancestors migrated from other countries in the last couple hundred years. And now, if France decides that they want a King to compete with the English queen, here is the man for them:



(from Taipei Times)

A relative of the Bourbons left France 400 years ago, travelled around the world, and eventually made his fortune in India. The picture shows his descendent, Balthazar-Napoleon Bourbon, who is the oldest of the living Bourbons. Although he doesn't speak French, his children are learning it. (Summarised from here and here).

I think the French government has been secretly planning to break the news that they have decided to re-establish the monarchy. France cannot be seen as backward compared to the hated Roast Beef, the English. Witness the popularity of Pascale de Bollywood, Vikash Dhorasoo's inclusion in the football team for the World Cup, and Amitabh Bachchan's winning of the French Legion d'Honneur. François Gautier appears to care more about India than most Indians from his writings, so he definitely has realized the ambitions of the French government.

I can just imagine that in the future, Pascale de Bollywood would be hired to sing at Balthazar-Napoleon's coronation, and Vikash Dhorasoo will be a shoe-in for the national football team. Wait a minute... by royal order football will be scrapped in favour of cricket, some song and dance sequences will be added to movies such as Amelie, and Amitabh Bachchan will become an honorary French citizen, where he can romance 18 year old girls in real life by royal decree as well as in the movies. François Gautier will be the royal messenger. The only question that remains is, should France be incorporated as a state into the Union Territory of Pondicherry or be under the Goans?

27 February 2007

Christans, convert back to Judaism

Sorry Christians, the writing is now on the wall. I anticipate a massive conversion of Christians to Judaism, starting with the Pope himself. All former Christian majority countries should now consider themselves provinces of Israel.

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, James Cameron has made a documentary about some 2000 year old stone caskets containing the remains of a family:
Mary; Matthew; Jesua son of Joseph; Mary; Jofa (Joseph, Jesus' brother); and Judah son of Jesua.

Cameron thinks that these names suggest that this was the historical Jesus who is mentioned in the Bible. Lots of people are very upset about this 'blasphemy' as it suggests that Jesus was in fact not divine. He was just a guy who wanted everybody to be nice to each other and maybe invoked the name of an imaginary superior being to bolster his case.

It's a good idea, this guy apparently lived the ideal and showed that it could be done by people. Who cares if he had a family like 100% of the other people his age in that time period and got buried? Just shows that he wasn't a complete weirdo. Hey, what next? Maybe they'll find that Jesus was Arab... probably related to Arafat or Hussein of Jordan or something. If Christians really care more about Jesus's divinity rather than what he said and did, then they have their priorities wrong.

If these do turn out to be the bones of Jesus and family then the sceptics are showing massive disrespect. Lightning will strike them down etc. Well, either way us neutral atheist/agnostic/non-Christians are in for an entertaining time. Wonder if the Bible will need a disclaimer in front of it, "This is a work of fiction..." Oh wait, it's been done already.

25 February 2007

The state within

Internement of UK citizens in Virginia, evidence suggesting the secretary of state of the USA collaborated with corporate elements to start a war in a -stan country, gay men kissing, lots of death, general mayhem, and a morally bankrupt leadership. A wag the dog style indictment of the US administration. And, did I mention Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) is the main character?

The acting in this BBC series is brilliant, the writers did not have to be very imaginative because the material is ready-made. Anybody who's been following geopolitics will understand the references... so it's a great watch. US citizens of a right-wing mentality may be very angry at the show, but I think it is useful for Americans to see how the rest of the world perceives the driving force behind US foriegn policy.

Americans are taught that their nation stands for freedom, free thought, free expression, and democracy. They are also taught that their country tries to promote these values in foriegn lands. Several actions the US government has taken does not add up to these values:

1. Coup that removed Patrice Lumumba from power in Zaire in the 60s. Led to Mobutu Sese Seko taking dictatorial control and the assasination of Lumumba.

2. Overthrow of Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran in the 50s. This lead to dictatorship of Reza Shah Pahlavi. He could not find any support among the population and was overthrown. The Iranians blamed the US government for Reza Shah, leading to the hostage crisis.

3. Support to various Pakistani dictators. The USA sold weapons to Pakistan in the 60s which led them to start a war against India in 1965. They also had help from the Joradian air force in that war, again using US weapons. In 1971, using US weapons again, the Pakistani army massacred about 3 million civilians in Bangladesh. India tried to help the Bangladeshis while the US sent an aircraft carrier to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India.

4. Saddam and Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction.

I'm sure there are other things I'm missing. So the credibility of the USA to export democratic values has been tarnished by the USA itself. Now, I'm not saying that any other country would have behaved any differently in the same position. Bloody hell, I'm not even saying that I would have done anything else if faced with the ability to make those decisions. I'm just saying that the blinkers US citizens have about their government should maybe... be taken off. It's only what citizens should expect from a democracy.

24 February 2007

एक शेर

लातों के भूत बातों से नहीं मनते सोणिये,
और बातों के भूतों ने कभी लातों से नहीं माना पर्वेज़।

(with due apologies to my non-hindi reading friends)

15 February 2007

How NOT to behave during midwest blizzards

We had the worst snowstorm since 1978 here - 43cm of snow accumulated, with wind speeds expected to be up to 50 kph. Temperature started around -5 and steadily dropping to about -20. So... school was cancelled for 1.5 days (did not make a difference to me because the thesis is due next week) and everyone told to keep off the roads. So, based on our practical experience of surviving blizzards, here's some advice.

10. Do not drive from one end of town to another. Pick up groceries from the shop within walking distance, even if they do have inferior bottled water.

More of the blizzard

9. Do not forget the candles.

8. Do not forget the snow shovel. In fact, if a blizzard comes on Valentine's day, your girlfriend might appreciate a snow shovel more than roses.

7. Doggies are allowed on the bed if the electricity (=heating) goes.

6. Doggies go outside, they poop and pee, then they come right back in. They don't stay outside and run around, they have fur and a normal body temp of 38-39 degrees C. This is their home, not yours.
Ginga Boo run in blizzard

5. Trying to take pictures into blowing snow results in wet camera, shaky pictures and unhappy fingers.
Boo Run Pan

So Happy to jump in snow

4. Make sure your shoelaces are tied before wading through the snow.
Huge amounts of snow

3. If your shoelaces were not tied, and you get snow in boots, and can't feel your feet any more, come inside. (Ouch... this one is important). Don't wait for Ginga to learn the meaning of the word "Come" while chasing rabbits.

2. Do not forget your gloves.

1. When school is closed, there's a good reason for it, there's no need to go there, even if you do have to pick up your favourite hair brush.
Blizzard

Hopefully with these little suggestions you too may manage to survive arctic blizzards.

11 February 2007

Karamchand Sir, you are a genius

In the beginning, there was Karamchand. It was the first detective series I remember watching in India on DD, the sole national TV station of that era. Now, there are new episodes of Karamchand following an almost 20 year hiatus. The series Monk is similar in concept. It's about an eccentric detective and his secretary who solve crimes using fairly old-fashioned methods. None of this zooming in on DNA trapped on carpets or blacklights or evidence collected from the rear end of a stinky llama in Tibet. Just interviews of possible suspects, a keen eye for their behaviour, and an uncanny ability to puzzle out the mystery logically.

Sherlock Holmes could not have been happier, although his logic was fallible... especially in one case where he determined that the murderer was highly educated because of the gigantic volume of his head (there's 5 points I lost on a test because I had read the book and nobody else had, including the teacher who assigned us the whodunnit to solve logically. I left my brains at home and relied on memory. Should have remembered that my future career was science and not medicine and desisted. Sir Arthur, I will never forgive you for that).

Karamchand's eccentricities include stating the obvious and saying out loud what the other person is thinking in a rapid pace without any punctuation to mark sentence boundaries. In an ingenious vegetarianised nod to Jeeves, the genius butler of Wodehouse fame, he munches on carrots instead of the fish that Jeeves preferred. He also seems to order around A Khan, the hapless police inspector who's actually in charge of the case and who just has a first initial, no name. Just a random Khan.

The plot of the latest episode was good, and no obvious inconsistencies I could find, and the viewers got all the clues necessary to solve the case before K does. Brilliant. There's a little part where they try to make humour out of the Bengali language, but I didn't get the jokes. They kept the original actor, Pankaj Kapur, as Karamchand but unfortunately, as directors are wont to do, upgraded to a younger model in the secretary Kitty. I quite liked Sushmita Mukherjee in the original and wish that in a nod to the 21st century, she would have taken on the lead detective role with perhaps advise from a retired Karamchand. Sucheta Khanna performs the bimboesque role adequately.

Until the next time K airs, remember to shut up, Kitty, and chew on your carrots.

M reminded me to put in that the music has not changed since the 80s, and the opening credits are in a similar style too.

Tag:

05 February 2007

Pioneering

We got to talk a lot of science in a rural setting over the weekend, in the Spring Mill Inn in Mitchell, Indiana (original home of Gus Grissom, the second US astronaut in space). We had an afternoon off to explore the surrounding Spring Mill state park, which we did with great gusto. In case anybody is wondering at the amount of padding that I have on, it was entirely due to the weather being approximately -18 degrees C.
Positively balmy!

Stream

This is a graveyard for the Hamer family. We could not read the carving on the earliest graves, so do not know how old they are. The ones we could read ranged from 1850 or so. Sadly there were many little graves of very young children. The information sign said that the average age was 27 of the people buried there. Many graves were of US soldiers and had little flags by them. I assume that they lived in the pioneer village that we visited next, but it was not clear.
Hamer graveyard

Pioneer village, leather shop. The door was locked so could not get in.
Leather shop pioneer village

Blacksmith's shop. Right next to what I presume were the stables, which were actually filled with a wagon and carriages and what looked like a sled.
Blacksmith shop pioneer village

stables

The pioneers had to go in the woods... because their toilets were closed!
Pioneer village restrooms closed
(sorry.. had to put in a PJ aka poor joke due to it being one of the topics of this blog).

It's great to see the progress of science, both at the conference, and during the hike. The horse-drawn carriages and lack of restrooms reminded me of the progress in technology that enabled me to visit this place with very low risk. The graveyard reminded me of the high infant mortality of the 1800s. It also brought home that adult lifespan has increased since then due to progress in the biological sciences. Unfortunately we have not progressed so much socially since then, soldiers and civilians are still dying due to war, that has not changed since the 1800s.

30 January 2007

No Vista for You

Windows vista upgrade advisor error

Windows Vista upgrade advisor encountered an error while scanning your system.

The helpful program that purports to advise users if their computers are ready for Vista totally failed on my machine. Interestingly it asked to go on the internet not once but 3 times and carried huge advertisements for Vista. It took about 10 minutes to run before it came up with this error. So, basically, a program which is supposed to tell the user if their computer can run Vista takes 10 minutes to scan the computer, wants to send all the information to Microsoft, and then crashes at the end. I have desktop widgets that can check my system specifications in a few milliseconds, and keep updating them as they change... shoddy job designing a front to data mine information from computers Mr MicroSoft.