Thursday, December 14, 2006

Keshava guy again

I am 'Keshava' guy in this latest episode of a popular desi podcast called "Desi Dilemmas". The producer of the podcast reads out one of my earlier post on Hindu temples in United States. Tell me what you think

Monday, December 04, 2006

Amazon's unspun

Amazon has a new service called unspun that crowd sources compilation of various best lists. The idea is get people vote and sort the different categories by votes. Its ajaxified, built using ruby on rails and asks for a login before it lets you vote. I tried to find out if the number of votes has any correlation with the size of its wikipedia article (if thats any measure of popularity).


Unspun Vs. Wiki Graph


(Update: Replaced the table with the graph and moved the table to 'more')

Clearly, the wikipedia-size curve has spikes like Word, Openoffice, Corel and valleys like notepad and Ultraedit. On the other hand, if the table is sorted by wikipedia-size, textmate is a prominent spike on the vote curve. Well, its the same crowd, does it make sense for these to smoothen out? May be, yes.


There's probably some alpha-beta user bias in the voting at this point as seen in this favorite subject list or Patrick Stewart (above Marlon Brando) in this list. But that should even out as this service becomes popular. While its easy to normalize and give them a letter grade, I wonder how a letter grade approach would work as opposed to ranking them. I find it hard to rank Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman in a particular order. Now bring in non-Hollywood actors like Sivaji Ganesan, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hassan or Toshiro Mifune. It only gets harder. I find it lot easier for me to give them a letter grade. Grading may be less mentally taxing than ranking and hence increase participation. On the other hand, grading doesn't pump up enough adrenalin for most users. Its probably not enough incentive to campaign for a better rank of their favorite item. Anyways, keep exploring and comment some of the interesting lists you stumble upon.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Zune and Network effects

Zune owners have a familiar story, there are not enough zunes around to use Wi-Fi to share music.

What would be really interesting is if Apple adds Wi-Fi to iPod and both Apple and Microsoft allow to share music across networks which can lead to some awesome discoveries (but at the same time it would be one long horrendous nightmare for the music industry). On the other hand, what would be terrible is if apple adds Wi-Fi and iPod and Zune dont talk to each other !! That would be like owning a phone but cannot make calls to 70% of the world (or <1%>

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Can temples be more retrograde?

One thing that kept me bothering from the moment I first visited a temple here in the US is....temple architecture. Temples here remain more or less archaic with one exception: the fire-alarms and sprinklers on top. They are an excellent illustration of "post-industrial vedic society with retrograde-est things possible" phenomenon. Like in any culture, for a long time, temples were places of public gathering in India, not any more though. Apart from the usual architectural differences between temples of North and South India, one significant difference is ventilation. Tropics made temples of South India more ventilated, while colder weathers up north made them less naturally ventilated.

Temples here have a similar story. Climate and Air-conditioning make them close walled. Temples are THE places of gathering for Desis, grocery stores being a close-second. Some guy said he is looking for a job and put up his resume on a temple notice board in San Jose! From 'Camry for sale' to furniture to music classes to India tickets to SP Balasubramanyam's benefit show to a local desi DJ party .....everything ends up on a temple notice board. Temples have been embracing enough in these instances.

But why do they have to look exactly like the ones built by Raja Raja Chola or Krishna Deva Raya?? Why do they have to the same ornamentation on walls and the roof invented centuries ago? The only innovation I can appreciate is...coloring the ornamentation... as done on the outer gopurams of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai even though it may sound a little cheesy and non-traditional (non-vaidika) for many brahmins. Oh, wait! How can I forget this great innovation? The Saraswathi temple in Pilani (home to BITS Pilani) is modelled after one of those exotic Khajuraho temples. But the high point is when you notice the busts of Lincoln, Ramanujan, Vivekananda, Paramahamsa, Pasteur, Einstein, Tagore and other 'kids of Saraswathi' on its white marble walls. Thats some re-interpretation of Saraswathi, I thought. GD Birla was truly a visionary. (Well, I've to admit that I went to school there. But even with out those allegiances, I' would admit that Saraswathi Mandir is quite something).

Now, here is a country that is the home to some of the greatest modern architects on the planet: Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Louis Kahn and Maya Linn ( I choose these people in this context... as these are the guys who have an outstanding sense of blending with nature, flowing shapes, natural ventilation and a sense of time). The 'model minority' of the nation with all its wealth, advanced degrees and progressiveness goes to temples frozen in 15th century! The low point was the Swaminarayan temple in Chicago. Tonnes of money were spent on the temple, tonnes of marble was mined from God knows where. There is an elaborate tour of 'Sanatana Dharma' along the entrance. But I felt extremely claustrophobic when I stepped into the actual temple. Its like a dungeon with little sun light coming in. They only got more money to spend on 'disco lighting'. I couldnt avoid drawing comparisons to the cave paintings of France. The only difference, the visitors here are not high on narcotics.

The other extreme was a small time temple in Artesia, near Los Angeles. A church in a neighborhood which recently became 'Little India' ...was converted to a temple. The temple didnt have any inner sanctum and a formal priest. It didnt have a shoe stand, it had a coat closet and rows of seating. But was I comfortable with the whole thing? Not completely. I didn't find it original enough. It was too practical ( :D ). It was too much of change. It was not building on any of the existing 'culture' nurtured and matured through centuries of time.

But I believe there is a middle ground. I believe there has to be an evolution. An evolution from those 15th century architectural approaches to something more modern but at the same time retaining the core philosophy of the traditional approach. Chola's Brihadeeswaralaaya is state-of-the-art because, at that time it was higher than anything around it. It took some innovative engineering techniques to build temples using massive amounts of rock. It held people in awe. I am not sure if taking a 15th century approach to constructing a temple today has the same effect.

The mere fact that these temples are in the United States, somehow raises my expectations a lot. In this country, there can be a Vegas kind of extravagance, a bible belt kind of conservatism but there will be and should be a religious equivalent of Maya Lin's contemplative Vietnam War Memorial.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Google toll-free?

Not sure if this is done by Google, but call 1-877-GOOG-411 to check out Google Local Search thru phone. The interface sucks a little bit though. It doesnt care for your voice until it finishes spitting out all the ten results.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Indian signboards


IMG_0609
Originally uploaded by Balaji Tanguturi.
Directions to four places in two languages. That requires effective usage of space. :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Right Question

As US crosses the 300 million mark, lots of newspapers ask the question: Can US handle the growing population? May be the right question should be "Can the world handle a growing a population of intense resource guzzlers?". Just to remind myself, I am part of the increasing population.

Update: NY Times has 300 million reasons for hope. :-)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another Sign of Incompetence

Delhi wants to ban rickshaws ! When governments are too lazy to improve upon the exisiting transport infrastructure, when governments are just incompetent to use market mechanisms to improve rickshaw as a means of transport, when governments do not realize that parked cars are a dead use of space while rickshaws provide short range transport alternatives....what do they do? They ban rickshaws!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chavez on US soil?

Clearly, Chavez' talk was way-way-way over the 'line'. Republicans chosfe to disrespect it without a response and Democrats criticize Chavez for stealing their job. The thing I fail to understand is this particular criticism: "Dont come to my country and attack my president".

Well, UN HQ is on international territory, not on the soils of United States. So technically, all the criticism Chavez made in the UN General Assembly is on international soils.

Now, I dont know how to interpret the above criticism. Does it assume, to the point of being arrogant, that UN is part of US?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Playdough Ganesh in a Sunnyvale Hindu temple

I like the way, this playdough making of Ganesh encourging participatory religion. In India, this scaffold ganesh is usually made with clay by more traditional potters (not the Harry ones).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Munnabhai - Barney for the masses

Some random things to say about Lage Raho Munnabhai:
  • The first, among a series of impressive things about Lage Raho, was the fact that one doesnt question about Gracy Singh or any of Munna's romantic past, but instead focuses on Munna's rude-but-humane-personality of getting things 'right' using seemingly 'wrong' means. There....in that moment...Munna has been transported from a movie character into a delivery means, a Barney for the masses.
  • The screenwriters found an extremely deft way of packaging Gandhism to many of the current issues in a reaching-yet-not-preaching, hilarious and box-friendly-forms.
  • The humor has been great ranging from verbal to situational and thankfully far from slapstick.
  • One of the "aha!" moments that stood out was the sorry from pan-chewing-wallah and coining of a new word:Gandhi- giri.
  • Its good to see Gandhi-hating out-of-vogue for a while.
  • You are guaranteed a total ROI on your ticket in any currency.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Google Books and Wikipedia

Now that we have lots of books in the open domain on books.google.com, we can expect a surge in quality/quantity of contribution to wikipedia. Monitoring quantity is quite easy, but the classic problem of quality of information remains. However, an added dimension would be the new references to those books in the open domain. I will try to see what happens with _a_ particular entry when these newly accesible references are used.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

How good is caste for affirmative action?

Well, caste may be the simplest indicator of socio-economic status in the Indian society, atleast in much of rural and semi-urban Indian society. And so in a country where any kind of false certification (including false proofs-of-annual-income) may be produced in a dirt-cheap budget, caste may be an effective indicator for affirmative action. But the problem with it is.....as an individual of a higher caste one feels terribly penalized for having born in a higher caste. Its one of those things where interests of an individual are in exact conflict with the interests of society in general.

The solution? I can think of one: Better Information Systems that keeps track of beneficiaries of the action and thus making sure that their progeny are treated normal.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The terrorism of Mumbai's Infrastructure

Mumbai says, "Bomb blasts are just a minor part of the problem". That gives you some idea about the anger thats building up with in the city. The city reportedly contributes to 1/3rd of the total national tax revenue and yet has to grapple with the most basics of infrastructural problems like the rest of the country. The problems are so acute that people think that bomb blasts are just a minor part of it! Bomb blasts happen may be once every two years (I am ashamed to give a periodicity to the acts of terror, but thats the periodicity history indicates), but the infrastructural problems are to be fought with every minute. And yet red tape, bureaucracy, corrupt politicians, inefficient systems get nothing done. Naturally, its residents are angry but dont know where to direct it.

Its important that all this building anger is let out before pseudo outlets (like 'Maoists', balkanization of communities based on religion etc) become more popular.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Stone's WTC

Its unfortunate that we are in a time where we make movies like "World Trade Center" based on real-life incidents. I am not saying that such movies shouldn't be made, but what I am trying to say is its unfortunate that we are in a time to witness an event of such epic horrific magnitudes, both on and outside the silver screen. And when such a movie is made, it carries all the baggage that every other movie carries. IMBD entry, x/10, reviews, star rating system etc...and all of these parameters have to basically strive to distance the artistic merits of the movie from the actual human misery that's part of the real-life incident. But an incident like 9/11 makes it only more difficult.

With a title like WTC, one might expect something nothing short of a whirlwind tour of world history for the past 4-5 years OR at the least a political context to the crash and basic ground level rescue operations, given that its an Oliver Stone movie. But Stone chose a much narrower focus.

He tells the story of two remarkable cops who watch out for each other after they are trapped under tonnes of rubble. He tells the story of their families interspersing it with the rescue operations. One might ask why the title WTC for such a narrow focus. Isn't Stone using the powerful WTC brand name to pull more audience?

WTC stands for many things in our decade. We basically have a pre-9/11 world and a post-9/11 world in matters of world economy, politics, trade, immigration and religion. Such is its significance. So what is it you want WTC to stand for? Of all the things, Stone thought that the fundamental human instinct to help each other and watch out for each other, mostly because that's the right thing to do...is what WTC most stood for. I would love to agree with him. But unfortunately, incidents like London Underground bombings, Madrid bombings, Bombay bombings, Transatlantic aircraft plots make it only harder to believe it.

Nevertheless, except for a single pro Iraq-war comment, I thought that the movie had been well crafted and makes you imagine what is it actually like to hang around the accident site. After being pulled out from the rubble, one of the guys asks where the two towers have disappeared! I kept thinking about how helpless-a-creatures we turn into, when we loose that simple big picture/orientation. And how big a blow was the 9/11 event to the political/economical/blah-blah orientation of all us including countries and governments.

Friday, August 11, 2006

How to make money out of YouTube?

Or Who should buy YouTube?

theoretically, a consortium of companies.

One of them could be Netflix. Why?

Because, I never got a chance to see Monty Python on TV. And I saw bits and pieces of Monty Python, first on YouTube. Chances are that:
  • I've disliked them. End of the Story.
  • I've liked them to an extent that I want to buy a DVD of it. This one happens rarely. Even it happens, there is no harm in renting it before you buy it. One would feel less disheartened by renting it, if the whole thing didnt meet their expectations.
  • I've liked them to an extent that I want to try more of it. In that case renting from Netflix would be a good option. (This tells me that Netflix should probably add a "I'll Keep it" button after items-that-are currently-at-home.)
In a way, it is not very different from contextual ads but with one difference. I am talking about ad-companies where you can 'try' things before you buy. I think I am trying to use the fact that a certain amount of piracy is healthy as it is capable of bringing in more business.

1981

Average year of birth of suspected arrests in the 2006 Transatlantic aircraft plot is 1981. And there is a guy who was born in 1989! I am curious to know if the average age is increasing or decreasing or just staying at 25.

30+ south-asian britons, feel happy that you are a lesser match to the stereotype.

But sadly Indian Police are not polite enough even though you dont fit the stereotype. NY Times writes here about police hunts in the muslim dense suburbs of Mumbai and the people's grunts about it. Being an immigrant and fitting a stereotype is one story, but being a match in your country is a totally different one. Sadly, that is part of growing global reality.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rahman at Hollywood Bowl


  • A multi-ethinic, multi-racial chorus group (from Miami) called "Global Rhythms" that sings ethnic music from non-western cultures using western instruments.
  • Another group from Stanford University called "Raagpella" that specializes in a style of vocal singing that's not accompanied by musical instruments called 'A cappella'.
  • A gypsy music troupe from Rajasthan called "Musafir".
  • Hariharan, Sukhwinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam, Madhushree, Anisha Nagarajan
  • Sivamani and a bunch of other percussionists

  • A legendary open-air modern amphitheatr called Hollywood Bowl with a capacity just shy of 18,000 which has been the stage for some significant to notable performances by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra and The Monty Python.
  • Make 70% of that 18,000 white/Caucasian and only the remaining 30%, desi.
  • Bring in Tom Schnabel, the director of World Music Programming for KCRW, a popular NPR flagship station in West Coast, to host the show.
  • And yeah, bring in the center piece of this Jigsaw puzzle "The Mozart of Madras", AR RAHMAN.

That should give you some flavor of the whole evening.

Tom Schnabel started out with an introduction saying that Rahman composed in a wide variety of genres including Classical, Rock, Pop, New Age all done in Indian style. The performance of the evening, "Bombay Theme", seemed to have been Rahman's standing-up to the introduction. Subsequent performances included pieces from Dil Se, Taal, Bombay Dreams, Rang De Basanti, Roja, Bombay and Yuva. Some of those grandiloquent pieces like "Ramta Jogi" employed "Global Rhythms" and "Raagapella". And in the tradition of carnatic concerts, Rahman gives away a slice of the evening to the percussionist Sivamani. And this guy tries out variety of beat cycles culminating in the three beat clapping cycle of the audience, yeah, the appeal of percussionists is more instant and universal. This rapper guy called "Blaaze" spiced up the evening with his occasional rapping of some Rahman numbers like "Humma Humma".

Rahman concluded the evening with "Vande Mataram" with the Indian tri-color fluttering on the giant TV screens.

Many of these numbers set people to swaying and hip-shaking often in Bollywood style. A guy called Richard Corliss summarizes the concert in TIME well before it even took place. :)

I thought some of the numbers performed that evening would be better appreciated in headphones than in a concert setting, for a couple of reasons: one. many of those Rahman's minute improvisations are simply not possible in a concert setting. two. Multitude of those instruments can amount to noise in a concert setting. I've to say that its more an observation than a compliant.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Karl Marx is a substitution on German side

While Germans, Argentines and Brazilians cruise thru the 2006 FIFA cup, check this classic philosophy football match by Monty Python.



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Protest over hike in fuel prices?

Leftist parties in India protest over hike in fuel prices. They oppose the anti-people increase in price and demand a complete rollback of prices.

Its so disappointing to read news like that. Why should state-owned oil companies pay the market price and sell the general public at a subsidized price? How is rolling back prices a pro-people measure, when it is going to bite back in the ass, when staterun oil companies go bankrupt after a period of time owing to the dead-weight of subsidizing market prices?

Accept the fact: Oil is scarce and scarce is always costly. State-run oil companies are not brewing oil in their kitchens. Its imported and every darn country in the world is paying a price and fighting for reserves and resources.

Subsidizing market prices has disastarous effects not just on oil companies, but on society in general. Consumers do not know the real market price, so the usual price check on consumption doesnt work. The incentive to develop fuel-efficient technologies is taken-off from the automobile industry. The incentive to develop efficient public transportation systems, alternate fuel sources and bunch of related stuff...is just off the hook! Its a golden opportunity to be a leader in such technologies in the developing world and the left parties want to throw it away!

Whats even more depressing is the fact that, none of the Indian Media seem to question the protest. All they seem to do is an as-is reporting saying 'so and so party protests in such and such state'.

"Why so?", "So What?", "How sensible is your protest?".......no such questions attached.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

1961 TV Commercial

Here is a 1961 TV commercial, an introductory-tour+operation-manual, rather. Contrast it with today's iPod. We have sure come long way in matters of user experience. Haven't we?

Friday, June 09, 2006

I am the 'Keshava' guy in this podcast

TOI's unbelievable arrogance

I cannot believe the arrogance of Times of India. They spin the 10-billion-INR-aid-to-Nepal as " Koirala thrown Rs 1,000-cr aid lifeline". Times is proving all worthy for a Razzie or something.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

movie:Gandhi

Amidst all the events of epic proportion that permanently changed the course of world history, there is a little boy that climbs up the tree and starts breathing fresh air of freedom after looking at hoards of people marching along with Mahatma 'Walker' Gandhi towards Dandi on the western coast of India. Similarly, among those BBC-Breaking-News events, Gandhi goes in circles along with his wife, re-enacting their marriage for a journalistic friend. Gandhi leaves for mudpacks, while Nehru, Jinnah and Patel discuss about the possibility of country's partition. Such are the intricate details, director Sir Richard Attenborough paints on this mammoth canvas of one of the last real epic movies ever made. In a pre-digital era, the movie employs about 300,000-400,000 extras in some scenes!

Along with a ton of those intricate moments, Attenborough has some of the greatest cinematic moments as well. Judge Broomfield (played by Trevor Howard) standing up when the 'extra-ordinary' prisoner whom he is going to try enters the court hall, those mesmerizing talks between Gandhi and NYTimes' journalist Vince Walker (played by Martin Sheen) as Gandhi tries to explain that all he found out after years of thinking and travelling is the 14th century song "Vaishnava Jan tho...", Nehru jumping into the crowd asking the traitor to kill him before touching Gandhi, talks between Lord Irwin (played by Sir John Gielgud) and his cabinet and later with Gandhi, Gandhi ascending the steps of the majestic Viceroy palace (which becomes Rashtrapathi Bhawan later) as the camera pans up and zooms out, all those conversations with Life's photographer Margaret White (played by Candice Bergen)...and the list of moments seem endless.

Couple these with Ravi Shankar's music while Gandhi discovers India and you start to get an idea of how much of an accomplishment is getting the movie made.

Yeah, I saw Gandhi yesterday for the nth-time and the movie has been extremely inspiring every time I see it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Immigrants and Geography Bee ?

NY Times has a great article on the usefulness of Geography Bee over the more popular Spelling Bee. NY Times articles raises an important point that most of American kids do not look beyond the coasts. This year's winner of the contest is an eighth grader from Illinois, from an immigrant family (Indian in this case). The guys who came in 2nd and 3rd places also happen to be from Immigrant families (Indian again). So just wondering how edgy can, being a child of an Immigrant family, who naturally look beyond the american borders, be? Looking at the winners of the contest, I am tempted to conclude that its pretty big an edge!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Amartya Sen and Tag cloud

Clearly, tag cloud and folksonomy are in vogue. Amartya Sen in his new book, "Violence and Identity" talks about multiple identities of an individual:
The same person can be, without any contradiction, an American citizen, of Caribbean origin, with African ancestry, a Christian, a liberal, a woman, a vegetarian, a long-distance runner, a historian, a schoolteacher, a novelist, a feminist, a heterosexual, a believer in gay and lesbian rights, a theatre lover, an environmental activist, a tennis fan, a jazz musician, and someone who is deeply committed to the view that there are intelligent beings in outer space with whom it is extremely urgent to talk (preferably in English).
Wow! Thats a whole bunch of tags. Aren't they? Shashi Tharoor adds an interesting twist in this sunday magazine review of the book. He says that people who realize that they have multiple identities are a minority and not a whole lot of people are going to read this enlightening book. I am not 100% sure about that. But it sounds so true when the word 'context' is thrown in. Most people fail to realize their multiple identities when taken in by a momentary raze of a given context.

Are people using enough of tagging in the online world to use it as an evidence for or against Tharoor's twist? Thats an interesting question to think about. I should log my thoughts on that.

Democratizing or Inventing?

In an article titled 'Inventing Creativity', Ajit Daura thinks that Kaavya Viswanathan is more a victim of a remix culture than the perpetrator of a literary crime. Thats probably true because, at both conscious and subconcsious levels, younger generations at large do not hold any prejudices against remixing. For them it is pretty much 'okay' to remix and its definitely part of the creativity spectrum. This decade may even be called 'the dawn of the remixing age.'

Ajit concludes the essay with this...
...but in the market economy in which we live, Mozartian self-expression seems to be the least important value in a work of art. Is it any wonder that it is cut, copied, remixed and pasted to suit a common denominator of taste and sales?

There, I beg to differ. While it takes a Mozart to bring out a 'Marriage of Figaro', the remixing age and the new digital technologies that facilitate remixing allow many many more 'ordinary folks' to express freely and creatively (though its not authentic always). Remixing is more about democraziting creativity, not just serving to a common denominator.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Proposing using Apple

Apple is posting a time lapsed video of the visitor lines before its new fifth avenue store: http://www.apple.com/retail/fifthavenue/

Somebody used this delayed web cast to propose to his girl friend, Uschi Lang : http://images.apple.com/movies/us/apple/fifthavenue/timelapse0500.mov
Now, does that count as graffiti or vandalism? Will apple edit the video, if somebody shows a placard against Bush?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Land for Land?

"Drowned Out" is a documentary about Sardar Sarovar Project on River Narmada of India. It talks about some of the pros of dam which include bringing water to drought stricken villages of Western Gujarat and Rajasthan and one of the largest canal irrigation systems in the world. The cons are the submergence of large number of villages and unfair settlement for displaced people. (Environmental effects of the dam have not been discussed.). Unfair settlement seem to be the heart of the issue. Resettlers were offered good land on paper, but when it came to the efficiency of governments in executing, all the resettlers got were poor weeded lands that had abyssmal returns of crops.

Lets face it. India is a densely populated country. Land is scarce and fair resettlement in land takes extremely efficient and politically willed governments to show any useful results. Keeping the merits and demerits of dam apart for a moment, resettlement of people is a key issue in any mammoth developmental project. It becomes all the more complex, when land is scarce and majority of resettlers are illiterate.

The project's foundation stone was laid in 1961. Planners and builders had two generations of time. Yet, planning seemed to be minimal. Why does resettlement have to be Land for Land? Why not exchange land for vocational skills other than farming? Given a couple of generations of time, people would have smoothly made a transition from agriculture to other occupations. I am sure there would be some such skills that can be learnt in a short time as well. I am wondering if any work has been done in that direction.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Some Interesting Trends

Google Trends lists down the geographical locations where bulk of queries for a particular keyword come from. I tried for to find out the locations for some of these listed below....

  • Software - Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai... (San Francisco at #8)
  • Design - Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Chicago...
  • Usability - Bangalore, Chennai, Dublin, Austin, Seattle...
  • User Experience - Helsinki, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Sydney, London...
  • Java, J2EE, .Net, Siebel, QA, Oracle, SQL, ASP, VB, Datawarehousing, Biztalk, testing, CMM, Mainframes - Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Delhi in some order
  • Ruby, Python, Ruby on Rails - San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York,
  • Firefox - Munich (followed by 8 cities in Germany), San Francisco at #10
  • Linux - Czech Republic, India, Russia, Norway, Poland, Hungary...
  • Shahrukh - Pakistan, Morocco, India, Peru, Iran, UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, UK
  • Visa - Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Vancouver, Singapore, New York, San Francisco....
  • GRE - Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Austin, Washington, New York, Chicago
  • MBA - India, Pakistan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, United States...
  • Islam - Jakarta, Bandung, Kaula Lumpur, Rabat, Cairo, Ankara.... (none of the so-called Breeding grounds in Top 10. Makes sense, because breeding involves certain amount of closed minded ness)
  • Global Warming - Brisbane, Perth, Delhi, Vancouver, Portland, Minneapolis, Washington, New York, San Francisco (DC at #7)
  • Prius - Pleasonton, Los Angeles, Irvine, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

iPod and India

I think iPod and iTunes (for that matter, ID3 tag format) are poorly designed for bollywood music for the following reasons...

1. Songs from Bollywood (and other industries like Tollywood, Kollywood...) have atleast two artists or more aptly atleast two 'playback singers'. ID3v2 and iPod work well when there is a single artist. Multiple artists fragment the song collection into larger number of artist categories. For example, there are numerous songs sung solo by Kishore Kumar as well as with Lata Mageshkar and Asha Bhosle together or separately. iPod classifies these songs under the following categories:
  • 'Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar',
  • 'Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle',
  • 'Kishore Kumar'.
  • or even 'Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar'
While the listener may always recall it as a Kishore Kumar number. Needless to say, best sold albums by AR Rahman have atleast four artists a song. One needs further ehtnographic research to determine how bollywood music is classified and thought about in listerners' hearts and minds.

2. Playback singers (artist in iTunes) are different from the composer by rule. More importantly, the name of the movie's superstar is prominent keyword in people's minds more than artist or composer. They are known popularly as Shahrukh's song, Rajnikanth's song, Amitabh's song, Chiranjeevi's song etc. iTunes or iPod doesnt even account for this factor which is inherent to bollywood music.

3. Some of the info fields in ID3v2 like Genre have no relevance for mainstream bollywood music. Its all the same: 'filmi music'.

4. Neither CDDB nor Indian recording companies or any othermajor online Indian music websites have a consistent spelling for the artists. You get to see about six different spellings ...'AR Rahman', 'A.R. Rahman', 'AR. Rahman', 'AR Rehman', 'Rehman AR', 'AR. Rehman'....you get the picture.

5. In India, one gets to buy all the 6 tracks of an album for 99c (INR 44.5).

A bigger question is.....Isnt India a Tier-3-4 market at the bottom the pyramid? Immense commodification of music CDs and abysmally low prices of them at less than a dollar are the very proofs.

Isnt iPod and iTunes a Tier-1 product or one that encourges and thrives on Long Tail ?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

35% stolen!

BBC reports that 35% of produced power is being stolen in Delhi resulting in an acute power shortage and long power cuts. So when governments cannot plan for increased installed capacity, cannot do good law enforcement in tackling stealing power....what do they do? They draft 'guidelines' for saving power. What do those guidelines sound like? "Government offices must switch off air-conditioners after 1830 and shopping malls across the city will have to shut at 1730." So people who pay for the power have to voluntarily shutdown at insane timings, so that people who steal can do it the royal way! And when leaders like Naidu reform power sector, whats he rewarded with? A terrible defeat at polls. Way to Go!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rising Gas Price

Carpooling and driving less are the lowest hanging fruit in the battle against rising gas prices say experts. In the lieu, two major issues immigration and rising gas prices, its useful to note that carpooling is pretty much the way of life for many immigrants. Its an inherent cultural advantage to these people as its okay to rub shoulder to shoulder in the countries (Mexico, China, India...) where they come from.

Minority Report ?

Police predict crimes over Myspace. Minority Report doesnt seem too far. Does it?

IITians contest Tamil Nadu Elections

Here is a little TV interview with Santana Vasudevan Krishnan, an IITian contesting in the state polls this year:


"Getting inspired by Rang De Basanti is one thing...while doing it is another thing...", reads the newsreader. How sad the movie that's mentioned is Rang De Basanti and NOT Yuva. North Indians and North Indian media are often like CNN. They dont see the world beyond them.

But the news reader had all the perfect questions and Santana Vasudevan Krishnan didnt have any good answers.

"Why should people vote you when you dont have a film or political background? You might appeal to middle class, but they are usually not the people who vote. So whats the point of your contesting?"...so on and so forth ....asked the news reader. All perfect questions given the fact that majority of voters dont even know what IIT stands for, both metaphorically as well as literally.

"We are different", started Santana Vasudevan Krishnan. For a moment, all I could recall was the ULTI cliched film interviews and opening ceremonies on Gemini and Teja TV.

A simple litmus test: How many bollywood/tollywood/kollywood movies have a character from IIT? I am not talking about the 'hero', try to recall an IITian character atleast some where in the background. "English August" is all I can think of. What does it prove? IIT doesnt sell movies. Forget politics and votes.

The strongest weapon at the disposal of Santana Vasudevan Krishnan is Innovation, in my opinion. Innovation in terms of a totally different approach to marketing politics, usage of with loosely coupled social technology like cell phones and an ant colony of passive student volunteers....etc...etc...I am not talking about Chandrababu Naidu kind of of hi-fi babudom, but instead: innovation at grass roots level with the least usage of resources....appealing not just to the intellect and rational part of the voters.

Well, you might have understood that I dont have any of the answers or any precise approach guidelines. But I can say this with conviction, "Think Different" is what an IITian can do and what a traditional politician cannot do. And there lies the edge, not the usual super appealing brand image IIT. "Know the audience and act accordingly", it usually works.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Happy Bday to you and me

Happy Birthday to you, Pardha and 16,438,356 other people including me. (6 billion / 365, with a naive assumption that there is equal probability for all 365 days.)*

Birthdays like anti-depressants. You want to take the pill before you realize that you are getting older. While its a good thing to realize the eventual 'getting old' thing a.s.a.p., a solar year is too long a time period for any useful introspection. Shrinking time periods like academic year to semester to quarters, quarterly reporting of earnings instead of one annual event, billing hours instead of monthly pay cycles .... are all good evidences. Granularity of time seems to be the fashion and trend. Further, a year is like measuring weight in tonnes. Because, when you measure weight in tonnes, you really don't care about wastage of material in a few tens or hundreds of kgs. All you care about is the number: 25 tonnes.

That was all about birthdays from a self point of view. From an other person perspective, you want lesser granularity to age. You want to be in a certain demographic instead of the exact number, especially when the number starts taking a hike. People think "Well, I am 40-ish", when in reality the age of person is 49! But its going to be painful when I have to choose the 25-32 demographic the next time I fill out a survey or a form. :)

I wish I were a Piraha in matters of couting age. :)
(Pirahas cannot count beyond two and anything more than that would be "many".)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Finally, a Wikify!

About a couple of years back, I've sent one of my friends' at yahoo!, a little wish list for yahoo! mail. One of them included, a edit toolbar kind of shortcut which hyperlinks to its wikipedia entry.

Finally, I wrote the a greasemonkey to wikify: http://geocities.com/kaysov/wikify.user.js

You should see something like the snapshot (beside check spelling) when you open the compose window of gmail.

And here is a little how to on usage:

// USAGE:
// %ENTRY% -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENTRY
// %Indian_Ocean% -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Ocean

Best Linux LiveCD ever

Linux Live CDs have been my final resort for the past few days since the boot sectors of my hard disk got corrupted. I've tried of bunch of them including the following more popular ones: Ubuntu, MEPIS, Knoppix, SLAX and PCLinuxOS. So far, I found PCLinuxOS to be the BEST. Its got the widest range of plugins for firefox, its got realplayer, media player, stream tuners, Bit torrent, USBKey for persistent /home and Koffice. But its not without complaints. Some of mine include lack of a quick volume control, Firefox 1.0 instead of 1.5 and KOffice instead of Open Office. But never the less, PCLinuxOS has been outstanding so far!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Desi foods and air mileage

Vegetables like lean eggplant, curry leaf, bitter gourd, snake gourd, coconuts travel a distance of around 13,000+ miles to reach the dinner tables of Desis here in the US! And in the debate of globalization Vs. global warming, local foods can save a lot of fossil fuel while brining in significant revenue to Indian farmers. While we leave this debate to economists, can we naturalize some of the more local vegetables to Indian recipes?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Learning Differences

The Globalist is running a two part article (may require registration) on the schooling and learning differences in America Vs. China. It naturally made me answer the question, "So where does India stand?". Well, its in between but more towards China....and here is why based on some of the differences discussed in the article:

  • Nationalized and Standardized tests: China uses them a lot. They think thats the only to ensure fairness and usually the exit from the dismal social fate in the country side. But standardized tests encourage the opinion that there is only one answer. India uses them a lot too. But the famous ones like IIT JEE do not grade the candidates based just on the final answers. They often credit the candidates with full marks when it is thought that the candidate had his/her thinking going right, but screwed up the calculation.
  • Capacity for memorization: Chinese have a capacity that can be described shocking by western standards. Indians have a tremendous capacity as well. Much of the ancient Indian education system was based on strict oral teaching, where comprehension in the first listening and memory played all the role. British system just carried on the legacy. To this day, most state board students can pull along with a good deal of memorization. But national boards like CBSE and ICSE leave some room for creativity and individual voice.
  • Tall nails get hammered: The article says that chinese society is massively conformist. While in India, its perfectly acceptable to voice out political opinions, however extreme they might be, its still conformist when it comes to yielding to older generations (and thats probably changing with new money).
  • In-class participation: Not many state boards encourage this. But central boards and many prestiguous universities encourage some level of class room participation.
  • and finally diligence: when it comes to diligence, Asians are all alike PERIOD.

I would love to see Indian education systems take a more center stance taking on some of the creative aspects of western systems and retaining indigenous diligence.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rajkumar and his Fans

What happened to the admiration of the damn fans when Rajkumar was kidnapped? Why didnt they go swamp the jungles and free their iconic leader? Why is pelting and setting the buses on fire the only known form of exit to anger of fans in general? But why anger in the first place, when the actor dies of a heart attack? I fail to understand even the fringes of this insanity.

A solution to this can be a local group pretending to be an extremely devout fan chapter trying to do something constructive. I am pinning my hopes on competition amongst admirers that might bring out some constructivism.

Online Townhall

Immigrant Protests
Online Townhall

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Swades Special Disc

You know what would be a good special features disc with Swades' DVD pack?

A compilation of some real life expat contribution stories. Isnt that a absolutely terrific disc to buy? Taking this a little further, I think it would be a good idea to either start a forum that allows exchange of such expat contribution ideas OR link to such places which already do so. Yep! thats building a little eco-system around this inspiring movie. Some good legacy to leave behind, apart from the usual entry on imdb...

Innovative Protestors

Immigrant Protests
Some Immigrant protesters found novel ways to make their point
Source:BBC News

Monday, April 10, 2006

What a Shame!

Top metropolitan areas of the world
Busiest metro systems in the world
Tokyo (Greater Tokyo Area) 35.2 million
Moscow Metro 3.2 billion
Mexico City (Greater Mexico City) 19 million
Tokyo Metro 2.7 billion
New York City, (New York metropotdtan area) 18.4 million
Seoul Subway 1.6 billion
Mumbai (Bombay), India 18.3 million
Mexico City Metro 1.3 billion
São Paulo, Brazil 18.3 million
New York City Subway 1.3 billion
Delhi, India 15.3 million
Paris Metro 1.2 billion
Kolkata (Calcutta), India 14.2 million
London Underground 976 million (2005)
Buenos Aires, Argentina 13.3 million
Osaka Municipal Subway 957 million
Jakarta, Indonesia 13.1 million
Hong Kong MTR 798 million
Shanghai, PRC 12.6 million
Saint Petersburg Metro 784 million

Source:
Wikipedia


What a shame! World's most populous countries India and China (excluding Hong Kong) don not have a metro system that rank among the ten. Imagine the cutback in pollution and fuel usage with better public transportation systems in these parts of the world!

Participatory Planning

City Planning exhibit in Shanghai
A model of Shanghai in 2020 at the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall
Source: Business Week

What a wonderful way to engage public in city planning!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lorenzo's Oil

This movie inspired by an incredible real life story opened with a Swahili warrior song:

"Life has meaning only in the struggle.
Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the gods.

So let us celebrate the struggle."

The Odones family has a child, Lorenzo, who is struggling from an extremely rare form that rapidly degenerates the brain and ultimately reduces the victim to a mass of flesh before he dies. The disease is poorly funded and thus has an abysmally few number of people working on its therapies. When the parents of the child try to find a doctor who can advise on their son's pathetic state, they find all the doctors to be equally groping in the dark. The Odones take the challenge upon themselves in trying to understand the basic bio-chemistry behind the fat-enzyme metabolism of the heartless-disease. And they succeed in finding a right mix of diet (a combination of a certain variant of Olive Oil and a certain other variant of Canola Oil) that controls the production of a certain saturated fat that leads to the degeneration of brain. The boy's parents have to fight a whole scientific establishment as well, in order to try out their self-discovered, controversial approach to the disease (A good illustration of cons of objectivity.)

The efforts boy's parents put in fighting the disease is breath-taking as well as extremely inspirational.

Set at around 2hr16min, this real life story is surely going to inspire you with its wonderful layman analogies on some miraculous bio-chemistry discoveries made by Lorenzo's parents.

Makes me want to sing the Swahili song again and again....

Monday, April 03, 2006

What about Legal Immigrants?

11 million illegal immigrants stand a chance to become citizens. While the 65.000 number limit on high-skilled, law abiding, tax paying H1-B guest workers remains unchanged. And thousands of students coming to this country for advanced degrees in Math and Science on an F-1 have to prove to the immigration official that he/she will return back to their home country after completion of their study. Is this whole immigration thing going beyond redemption?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Second IF

I watched "Aithey" again. Unlike the usual stream of Telugu movies (for that matter Hindi as well) which have least concern for audience' intellect, this one respects you as an audience. It knows that humans multiprocess -- that they think while they watch. I was happy to see people who think thru things before they act, who "Stand-in for the values they believe in", and yet are extremely practical.

"Whats so special about that? Isnt it how people are supposed to act?" ?

Yeah, true. But thats not how Indian movies generally are. So there is every reason for me to feel happy that as an audience my intellect and integrity have been respected.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Buy everything...

If you are to buy everything advertized in an half-an-hour prime time slot on a channel like TBS, chances are that you'll end up with the following things:
  • Three Cars ( 1 SUV, 1 Sedan and a sports car)
  • Two deodarants
  • Two Car insurance policies (One of them ought to be Geico)
  • A bottle of Exotic beer and two light ones
  • One Bottle of Vodka
  • Eyelift / anti-ageing cream
  • Make-up stuff + something that advertizes thicker lips / thicker lashes / larger hair volume
  • Couple of ultra-fast internet connections
  • Victoria Secret Lingerie + sometimes Male innerwear
  • Tampon or its ilk
  • A fast serving bank which advertizes convenience
  • And some Microwavable food that compares itself to a nearest Bistro
A lot of them dont sound too good for the planet. Do they?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

CNN gets cleaner interface

uh! CNN takes off the rolling ticker in the bottom and goes cleaner with the rest of stuff as well. I wonder if the already-clean-BBC would do something in response.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On Prophet's Cartoons

We can talk about a lot of things here: free speech, ends of free speech, fundamentalism, blasphemy, anti-semitism....

But I can think of only the following Sanskrit poem:

OM SAHANA VAVATU SAHANA BHUNAKTU
SAHA VIRYAM KARAWAVAHAI
TEJASVINAVADITAMASTU
MA VIDVISHAVAHAI

OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI OM


(Together may we be protected
Together may we be nourished
Together may we work with great energy
May our journey together be brilliant and effective
May there be no bad feelings between us
Peace, Peace, Peace)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Some mexican jobs.

Technology replaces some 'traditional' mexican jobs.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

IE7 any better?

In comparison to firefox:
  • Navigation toolbar is slicker. Stop, Refresh, and new tab have been made more contextual. (Clearly, a user experience team at work).
  • New tab and Quick tabs work well. Not that firefox doesnt have these, but one needs to install a couple of extensions like foXpose to get this behavior.
  • Search Providers? No simple way to add Wikipedia as a search provider.
  • Thats the end of it. Bookmarks manager and Browser Settings just got carried over from 'pre-web' versions of earlier IEs. Isnt browser settings supposed to be a relatively geeky thing to go and fiddle with? Howcome IE7 hasn't got this part simplified?
  • Find continues to suck. Does it take IE9 or something to fix such a simple thing?
  • and on Firefox extensions...oh! there is just no point in getting started on that. Let's just say IE7 is lagging by a decade on that front.

Simplicity: Health Plans

Healthcare Industry desparately needs a 'Citi-Simplicity' version of a healthplan that doesnt ask elderly people to go thru the fine print to weigh in the pros and cons of different available plans in a decision matrix! Too many choices suck and thats an enormous business oppurtunity lurking in the fine print.

Its time for a daring company to come up with a plan that is bold and simple enough in terms of the strings attached. With increasing number of baby boomers, I think its also time to consider a DRAMATIC strip down of fine print and content on the websites. Keep It Simple and Superb.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Rang of Basanthi

Yeah, thats my poor French joke on Rang De Basanti. This is what went thru my mind as I was watching the movie:

  • First you think, "okay this is an 'enemy' perspective at Bhagat Singh movie" (the general's dairies and all that)...
  • then you think its about "an English girl making a movie with Indian cast",
  • then you think "Oh! man its a 5 person version of Dil Chahta Hai",
  • then you think "May be they do want to shoot a Bhagat Singh movie"
  • then you think "Why Bhagat Singh for the nth time on Hindi Screen man?"
  • then you think "Okay, this guy wants to deal with some issues of India too",
  • then you think "Oh! NO Why does this guy want to talk about every issue India has?"
  • then you think "The Bhagat Singh analogy is over stretching man"
  • then you think "Thank God! Its atleast funny occasionally"
  • then you think "They are going to get this Madhavan dude killed, man"
  • then you think "Enough of Sepia man! Enough of the analogy crap! Dont start making a complete mess out of it"
  • then you think "Oh! Well Congrats Mr. Mehra, you have officially stepped into the crap zone"
  • then you think "Mr.Mehra has well passed the finish line in crap zone..entering bullshit zone"
  • then you think "Now stop bullshitting me"
  • then you think "There is something called Electricity to pull the AIR signal out of air"
  • then you think "NDTV is doing a lot of product placement"
  • then you think "You go on a plane and make a joke that you have a gun. You'll know how sane the commandos are"
  • then you think "Enough of it man. This Amir dude gets shot and drags himself across India to reach the studio again"
  • then you think "Ah! well, this Mehra wants somebody to wakeup. But why does he make a pretense of making a revenge story a national issue?"
  • then you think "Ah! Now he makes a pretense of the movie being about MIGs"
  • All in all, Dont try to summarize this movie too many times. You end up in the experience of watching a montage of short films with different themes but the same cast.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

Those Tiny Great Moments

Why is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart a genius? NPR is running a week full of awesome collection of audio programs on greatness of some of Mozart's greatest compositions starting with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. As the saying goes, the difference between a genius and an ordinary on one hand is huge, while on the other, its really tiny. What are those tiny moments of divinty that make Mozart a genius? Try these for an answer: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5164428

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hyderabad's new airport: Disaster in-making?

Hyderabad, one of the tech hubs in India, is getting a new airport. Here's a little video:


New projects are always great oppurtunities to try out new things and not to repeat known errors. This one seems to be missing on both. The airport doesnt seem to be trying out new mechanisms in energy conversation (It uses glass and metal ceilings in a region where average temp is 40C). There is no mention of access to public transportation. A country of 1 billion needs enormous focus on efficient and affordable public transportation to prevent an ecological disaster. How sad that the video talks at great lengths just on retail, food and beverage, retail, food and beverage (did i mention retail, food and beverage?) and nothing else.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In or Out?

I heard Y!'s Europe Managing Director on BBC say "Google's philosophy is to get the user out of the network, while we want to get the user inside the network". So which one's better? "Let them get to the place they think is the best" OR "oh! No. Let them stay inside." ?? "Lets help them go to the place that does the best job" OR "Lets build the best in everything" ??

Sunday, January 15, 2006

EasyShare?

WTF do they mean when they say EasyShare? I cannot get in unless I have a userID and a passwd. I think companies should be made to be pay, say fine-per-use, when they say its Easy and dont really mean it.

A couple of Iranian Movies

Majid Majidi.

This Iranian director is extremely deft at the tugging the right chords of your heart. I happened to see two of his movies: Children of Heaven and The Color of Paradise.

Children of Heaven is about a young brother and sister living in a distant Tehran sub-urb. The boy accidentally looses his sister's shoes when he takes them to get it repaired. They decide to hide this fact from their father as he's financially broke at that time. They manage with the boy's single pair of shoes as both have different timings at school. The boy sees a flyer for a district-level under 10 running race. All his hopes are now pinned on the third prize: a pair of sneakers. I cannot believe that so much could be done around a pair of worn-out shoes! Heart-warming, unexpectingly funny, moving. In summary, Fantastic!


The Color of Paradise? A 9-year old blind boy wants to know the color of paradise thru his finger tips. A selfish father wants to get rid of this unfortunate child to better his prospects at a second marriage. But the boy has a loving granny who cares a lot. Once when the granny is away, the father sends away this boy to a professinal blind carpenter. And all that is left to see for the boy, thru his fingers is: different types of wood! At the end, the granny and the boy both see the color. They find that it is bright. An Intensely Emotional movie experience.

Both movies showcase rural and sub-urbian life of Iran which is very different from the usual axis of evil picture painted by Uncle Sam Propaganda machine.

Sense of Community is the key

One of my friends was participating in the CHI 2006 student contest on making ppl healthy. I kept pointing that sense of community is the key in helping ppl watch their diet & weight and technology should help them get that done instead of being overly intrusive. I was suggesting a version of Y! games where ppl wud be able to compete during their workouts. Here is an article on USA Today reporting new treadmills, stairmasters and gym equipment connecting to internet allowing people to compete with others. I am keen on seeing this succeed.

Mahima

A new album I discovered this week: Mahima by Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman. Fast paced music with Indian folk themes. You should like it. My personal favorites included: Tagore Street Blues and Jibaner Gan.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Who should get it?

Hey, lets say we have used up 90% of world fuel and 80% of rest of world's resources. Then there is a huge competition for the rest of the resources. Who should get these resources? Should it be the guy who can afford it thru money? or the one who cannot afford it? Sounds silly? Well, my argument is that the rich guy is rich, most probably because he has used up a significant chuck of those used-up resources, while the poor guy is yet to use any of them. The fundamental Q I think I am trying to ask is...Are the balance sheets really balanced?

China and resouces

Lester Brown is talking about the rise of China and and its impact on planet's sustainabilityt on NPR's Science Friday. Lester makes it sound so western-centric that as he says things like "China is threatening to consume all of world resources" (yeah right, west hardly consumes resources.), "This western model of economy is not going to work for China" (yeah but, what about the model working for the west and the rest of the world?).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stone the Satan Inside

Its really disappointing to see people at Hajj rushin to stone the Satan, resulting in a catastrophic stampede killing 345. Isnt the biggest Satan inside? BTW, NPR has a great and politically-right interpretation of the tragedy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Telling the truth

Victor Lomardi asks, "Central planning. Unnecessarily large teams. Official ideology. Poor moral. Are you working in a totalitarian company?"

I am tempted to answer, but I wont.

on JUST Western Europe and United States!

The guy reading news on the WBUR had the following comment on birdflu: "As bird flu breaks in Eastern Europe, there is a threat to Western Europe and United States." (or something to that effect). I can understand that the audience of that news bulletin is primarily United States. But that does not make me appreciate the incredible narrowness of interpretation of the news and the humongous self-centeredness of the western media.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An OST from Vanity Fair

I dont know how popular this one is...but here is one quintessential Rajasthani tune sung by Richa Sharma and Shankar Mahadevan. The words "Gori Re", sing in praise of a fair woman (gori) who has managed to get over all her obstacles and won every heart on her journey. The song appears in the movie ends as the character played by Reese Witherspoon climbs yet another step in the ladder. The two voices Richa and Shankar give the song a great depth.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tolerance or Intolerance?

Here is a little dance drama in a south Indian classical dance style, narrating the story of Jesus from His birth to crucifixion. For a moment I was thrilled, but it was a little disheartening to see the dancer not wearing a bindi. I can understand that Indian Christians don't wear one, but bindi is the center of the whole universe of facial Aaharya (costume and make-up of the artist). I don't know if this enactment of Jesus' story should be called an act of tolerance OR if not wearing a bindi should be called intolerance.

Not so OCW-ish

Columbia has this supposedly great interactive medium called "Scientific Habits of Mind", but you got to be on Columbia's network to access it. How Sad! How not so OCW-ish!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Second Green Revolution?

The Ruling Congress Party and the Prime Minister Dr.Singh keep talking about a second green revolution to empower farmers and villages etc. Dont simple market rules of demand and supply
apply to food production? I mean isnt the world already producing an excess of food. Weren't the problems with distribution? If that is true, shouldn't developing nations help their farmers learn new skills and not be farmers anymore?

Lady Indian Busdriver

BBC reports this story about a lady bus driver in Rajasthan, India. Believe me, this one is a little different from the usual blonde driver joke.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year, Taipei 101


Happy New Year, Taipei 101
Originally uploaded by Coolmitch.

my lifelong fascination


Toy Train
Originally uploaded by HELLO, my name is _____..
i love these trains...they always give me a good sense of the country they are in.

Gaming will start eating into films

May be they have already begun eating into movie markets' revenue by making people more addicted to game consoles and thus keeping them away from movies houses. On the other hand, some movie houses started churning out extra revenues by giving out movie-based games. The BBC reports that the games are now starting to unfold based on players reactions. So movie houses might as well make movies of length of just one hour, building the charaters enough and let players unfold the rest! Too many alternative endings??!!