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.