Friday, September 26, 2008

WTF Of The Century

We are are very busy but interrupting normal programming to bring you this news flash. This has got to get enough eyeballs before they change/remove the page. Just got to know about this via email.

--- Begin Rant ---

The good 'ol alma mater is hosting this year's love fest/group hug/what you will. So while all the boys are hanging out comparing each others' dicks and portfolios and dislocating their arms patting themselves and each other on the back, hey the "spouses" need not worry. It's all taken care of, you won't be bored and sidelined. See what the page says:
While the IITian chooses to inspire, innovate and transform, here is an exclusive track designed to keep Spouses and Families completely informed and entertained.

The theme for the spouses' track in this year's PANIIT is "Sampoorna" - programs meant for the complete woman, who is able to perfectly balance her personal, professional and public personality. With this in mind we have a galaxy of presenters and performers who are bound to enlighten the IIT spouses.
Here's a little bit of mind-boggling deductive reasoning:

1. All the spouses of IIT alums are women.
2. Some IIT alums are married women.
3. Ergo all married women alumnae are married to women.

Someone needs to tell Kenny, Choxbox and who knows how many more of them to wake up and smell the coffee. There's a duties-of-a-wife poster that someone (SB, BM, Veena?) posted a link to once and we can't find. This is taking that to a new level. 21st century version.

If all this wasn't so thrilling in of itself, there is more later in the page.
Mystic Trail
In the afternoon our Mystic Trail will take you through some of India's most well known practices such as Astrology, Palmistry, Gemology, Nadi and Kili Josiyam.
WTF? WTF? WTF? WTF? WTF? factorial(WTF)factorial(WTF). This is a gigantic WTF, believe you me. In WTFland, it's called the WTGoogolplexF. And WTF doesn't HTML support the raising of WTF!s to powers of powers of powers of WTF!s?

Please excuse while we go off and burst some blood vessels.


And the sting in the tail.
Prepare yourselves for a close encounter with spirituality, fitness and food.

Shilpa Shetty
Start your day with an interactive session...
This is really the only session that seems worth attending at the whole conference at this point, but ah, read the fine print.
(awaiting confirmation)
Nonsense fellows.

--- EndRant ---

OK, back to the grind. Regular programming will resume after the saarangi vaadan is done with. Anon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best Hindi Movie Song Ever

We've believed this to be true for a long time, and have seen no reason to change. Yet.

Caveat: By "best" we mean the best "overall" performance, there are admittedly more soulful lyrics, more dulcet voices, superior music, possibly better cinematography (Really? Where?), better actors, better movies etc. but as a complete package, not many things come close.

Cinematographer talks about shooting the scene:

A long 3 part audio interview with him is available.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Photos, Nerdy Things, Pictures, And Sundry Items Which Are The Staple Here

-1. Ho Ho

0. Nerd Joke Alert
One for the nerds, let's get it outta the way pronto.

"There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who think in base 2, and those who don't."

1. How You Just Missed Making A Potload Of Money (But It Involved Mathematics)

A Mersenne Prime is a prime number that may be expressed in the form 2n - 1. Only 46 Mersenne primes are known, but it is possible that there is an infinitude of them lurking.

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search project has discovered the last 12, each of which except for the latest one was the largest known prime at the time of discovery. GIMPS works by distributing the computational work between volunteers' PCs. The GIMPS program runs when the PC is idle, quietly churning away.

GIMPS announced that prime nos. 45 and 46 were discovered in a space of 3 weeks on August 23 and September 6, which is pretty amazing. The person on whose computer #45 was discovered (Edson Smith who maintains computers for UCLA) gets $100,000 for discovering the first prime number with > 10 million digits. $100,000! And all you had to do was lend your computer. Suckers.

2. Oracellae And Such

The Marine Mammals Conservation Network of India has a new website. We have written about our encounters with marine mammals before, including this one. Nowadays, when we go running, we actually feel like a stranded marine mammal, that's what the cardio-vascular-respiratory system has become.

Be that as it may, do check out the website. Lots and lots of information, including much of Kumaran Sathasivam's excellent book on the Marine Mammals of India. Sekk it out, I say.

3. 'I'm going to die on Monday at 6.15pm'

Points to ponder. Reader discretion advised.

"When Marc Weide's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she chose euthanasia. Here, we publish his shockingly frank diary of her final days."

4. Love Theme

The Love Theme in RitiGowla is poised on a knife edge. Chapter V came out some time back, and faithful readers are clamouring for more and threatening homicide. If you go now, you can read all 5 and be all up to date, otherwise too many episodes will have passed, and this is not some 'Shanti' or 'Swabhiman' or 'The Pearl' that you can open the page anywhere and start yensoying. What do you think this is, book cricket?

5. Photoos

Begumpet, Onam eve (

Alwal, Onammmm...

Early morning, 15th August, Madras Central station. We kid you not, this fellow was hanging out aaraam se in the middle of that gigantic concourse.

And that's that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Science Videos

Over at Wired Science, they've put up a list of the Top 10 Amazing Physics Videos. #1 is the recently famous "LHC Rap" thing.

And via Abi, we come to a video by something called Marie Curie Actions For Teens. How to explain chemical reactions to teens, is what it deals with. And so funny.

You must've been living in a hole if you haven't heard that approximately now, the people in white coats at CERN are going to fire up their latest toy and see what happens. Note that hadrons aren't colliding yet, this is just a dry run to send a beam of protons in one direction around the supercollider.

The good people over at Cosmic Variance are "live blogging" the event. The last entry as of this writing says, "Reporting now from the High Energy Physics conference room here at Caltech. In an hour and a half we’ll open a live feed to our colleagues at CERN, who will be updating us on what happens." And CERN has a webcast, if that's what you're looking for.

Are you wondering if the Large Hadron Collider has destroyed the world yet?

And finally, a medieval helpdesk video:

In Norwegian, with English subtitles.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Books, Award, Railway Wagons, Optimal Kerchief Management, God, Pigeons, Outlook Traveller, Graphic Novels, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Disease (With Pics)

Where we regurgitate everything

0. Books

Lots and lots of people are borrowing our books nowadays. We've resorted to using reminders on the trusty E51.

So far we know that Emma has Sea of Poppies; the Nitwit has What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; Mango Indian has A Short History of Nearly Everything, The God Delusion, India: A History, and a couple of Eddie Izzard DVDs; the girl upstairs has Santorini, The Five Dollar Smile: And Other Stories (yes, a moment of weakness); and the neighbour uncle has The Unquiet Woods and Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600-1800. So all of you beware.

Someone, but someone has our copy of Norwegian Wood. If you're reading this, holler. The other Murakamis on the shelf are beginning to miss this one.

Speaking of which, the running book is unmissable, especially if you've had running and/or writing ambitions and lived in Cambridge, MA or Japan. One of the good things is that it de-mystifies Murakami quite a bit, and suddenly he is this ordinary runner guy (well, sort of, he runs one marathon every year) with ordinary running troubles. Lots of little things resonate for anyone who has engaged in long distance running. For example, that mysterious question that non-runners will pose, "What do you think about when you're running?" It's a bit of a baffling question for someone who's past the 10 mile mark. What are we thinking about? Nothing, really. To put it in a different way, who the fuck knows? It's a strange state, quasi-meditative, self-transcending and what have you. The book results in repeated mental revisits of Sharon Olds poem.

1. Awards

The good Imam has done the unthinkable and nominated us for some pink coloured award. Thank you, thank you. Curiously enough, Pragya (who through a complicated and unfathomable chain of links has been lurking here) also nominated us for said pinkie. Thank you, thank you. Now we needst pass it on. So here goes. Pretty much the only rule we're following in this is that the blog has to be a personal blog we read regularly and is not already on the blogroll.

1. Australopithecus - Sample: "Another thing that worries me about these Americans is the use of the word momentarily. I almost shat in my trousers when the pilot announced 'we shall take off momentarily'."

2. Barmy in Wonderland - For kaaryakshetra adhyayan and suchlike. Also for contributing some mufat ka gyaan.

3. Wisecandyman - Who will surely one day shuffle off the mortal coil during the video question at a quiz shortly after he has consumed industrial quantities of esoteric cuisine, thus neatly bundling all his passions into one compact event.

4. The River's Wing - Who really ought to write more often.

OK, that's it, have lost enthu. There's still a boatload of stuff to write in this post. Sue us. And we set all these worthies free of the obligation to continue the tag. So there. Muhaha.

Speaking of awards, we made a little bit of money at the Landmark Quiz on Aug 15 in Madras. This has duly been spent in Landmark on such things as The Watchmen; Common Sense and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine; The Open Society and Its Enemies; I, Claudius etc. One of these days we'll write the definitive What Rs. x,000 Buys You At Landmark post, but till then what Rs. 3,000 can get you at Landmark is diddly squat.

3. Railway Wagons

A lot of time has lately been spent on trains, as readers will doubtless be aware. It's been very pretty too, what with all the rain and lushness. Behold, somewhere in northern Andhra Pradesh, dusk, Howrah-Madras Mail.

And there's the Godavari, all pregnant and ominous. Is there such a thing of joy as a bowstring girder in the middle distance?

But on these journeys, such of us who are wont to worry about such things, are plagued with unanswered questions of the following nature. Ever so often, you will pass a railway siding or a freight marshaling yard where there invariably are forlorn looking goods wagons lying about. This is a heartbreaking sight, especially at dusk, when there is a slight drizzle, especially. They look orphaned in a way that your average passenger coach never does.

The worst ones are from the far off railways. Nothing is more tragic than a rusting North East Frontier Railway wagon on an Erode siding, catching the last rays of the sun refracting through a light shower, silently watching the Salem and Coimbatore bound traffic thunder by with nary a care... Makes you cry. Oh, once in a while you'll find an engine that's as far removed from home as our wagon. A Tughlakabad WAG-5 in Thootukudi is nowadays not an unusual sight, but it's different for locomotives isn't it? The key word being locomotive. The thing could find its way to Delhi or Dehradun if it wanted to, innit?

Not so for the poor goods wagon. It's in our mind's eye, lying there silently in the gloaming, at the foothills of the Nilgiris. Meanwhile a clerk in Bongaigaon or Dibrugarh scratches out its serial number from a long list in a smudge-ridden, dog-eared, ledger in a dusty office in the Brahmaputra valley. Sigh. Think about it, the next time you see one of these.

4. Optimal Kerchief Management

Is this even possible? Are we to resign ourselves to the sad truth that there is a black hole or other such spacetime anomaly in the cupboard, into which kerchiefs disappear? We've bought 20 kerchiefs in the last year, and can barely find one when we need it. In pensive moments, we break into song. With Bong accent. "Bhere do you go, my lobhely? I bhant to no..." Where do they go? (That song, by the way, is one of those instantly evocative take-me-back-to-the-90s-when-STAR-TV-had-just-been-invented specimens.)

Is there some way of ensuring that all times 3-6 clean handkerchiefs are available for consumption in some easily accessible place? Please help.

5. God

See 6.

6. Pigeons

Assumption: There is no god. Therefore, species evolve according Darwinian principles of natural selection and genetic mutation.

(i) Pigeons exist.
(ii) They are unquestionably the dumbest creatures on the planet. Staring deeply into a pigeon's eyes for about 3 milliseconds will make this truth instantly self-evident. If you aren't convinced, send us an application in triplicate and we will put a post on such topics as "pigeons; IQ of", "pigeons; cranial cubic capacity of", "pigeons; taste of" and so on which will doubtless convince you.
(iii) And yet they flourish. By the gazillion. If natural selection and all those fairy tales were true, they would at least have to have gone the way of the Kakapo or the Jerdon's Courser. But, nahiin. They darken the skies with their pestilential coochiings and cooings, and dive-bomb terrified, helpless Grand Slam winners. Did they go off in some distant past and engage in some ghoulish coupling with Stuka (Junkers Ju 87)?

Anyway, they exist, and seem to thrive.
(iv) Assumption must be wrong. Ergo, god exists.

Corollary: Given this sort of blatant bias towards an unfit species, the only logical explanation is that the biased One is Itself one of the beneficiaries. Ergo god is a Pigeon.

Jai Guttur Dev.

6. Outlook Traveler

Hah. Thanks are due again to Lesley because the Konaseema piece is finally out in print. Outlook Traveller recently released their 45 Weekend Getaways from Hyderabad book. It's not in the stores yet, but we have an author copy ("author copy", "author copy", oh delicious sound) and find that we're rubbing shoulders with the likes of William Dalrymple and Sheetal and are very kicked. Please buy in industrial quantities.

7. Graphic Novels

Who would've thought that there's something new to discover once you're 30+? As Jamesh Bond put it, "Never Shay Never Again" or whatever. Lately we have been lapping up these ones. That Man Keynes With His Execrable Urdu started us off by gifting us Maus and Persepolis. Then along came El Spaniardo with Amruta Patil's Kari, and the alea was well and truly iacta est. Latest couple of bouts of bookbuying have resulted in Tezuka's Buddha and the aforementioned Watchmen joining the ranks. Are we done? Do we need to do more? Sin City and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen beckon, but not much else.

It is so important to have all the volumes just so in the shelf, don't you think?

Popper, Calvino, Moore, Window, Balcony, Laundry (A Juxtaposition)

8. Happy Pillayar Day

Today it is. We spent some quiet time in the evening on the terrace and thought we'll share some of the pictures with our hapless breathless readers.

The view from the balcony

Sunset - I

Sunset - II

Close observation will reveal a sliver of moon that has been causing hullaballoo in certain parts.

Sunset - III

Sunset - IV

Silhouette - Self Portrait

Jalebi vendor - Begumpet

puja pandal, apni galli mein

9. Disease

We have mumps.

10. Bonus

Does anybody remember this?

Zing Thing

Found in a 1980s copy of a magazine/Indrajal comic on the CFL premises. Brought back some memories. Was it good for you too?