Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Post 599 : He looked at the balls…and then he smiled!!

Picture this : I am in the men’s room, here enters this Surd (Sardar) who is getting into the act of peeing. Within a few seconds (as he gets into the act), he starts singing in a loud (really loud) voice (I think it was the Gazab song from Bips-Neil Mukesh starrer “Aa Dekhen Zara”…not sure, “think”….).

So far the scene is startling enough. I don’t comprehend this (situation) well(enough), “How do you pee and sing at the same time”, that too with a club song, which, though you are (just) mumbling aloud, (but) in your mind it is playing in 24 track with the thumping bass, making your whole body (and the pee trajectory) sway.

I am telling myself. “Ha! That’s an unusual…thats kinky.”

By now, I am curious enough to turn to (try and) look at “the face”, to figure out the source of my mirth, at the same time being careful enough not to trespass on his modesty. What I see next completely (searching for an adjective…after a lot of thought….)  befuddles me.

The guy is smiling, (yes, I mean a broad grinned smile), and he is looking down on the “little one”…How weird is that….whoever smiles while peeing.

To clarify (for non-males), male-peeing requires focus, attention and a complete body posture stability. It requires you to set your mind on the act, get it done, take a sigh of relief, zip up, detox your hand and quickly get back to life.

Where is this post going? I don’t know. Just that singing and smiling while peeing is a very alien concept to me.

Post 598 : I surrender my right to vote….

The more I think, the more I am convinced that this drummed up hype of “Jaagofying and voting” is clearly a case of “brainless brawn”.

I realize that I might be appearing un-patriotic, and irresponsible, but then “appearances be damned”, I guess I have the right to an opinion. (Guys keep the hate mail coming…I am sure “The Art Of Jingo” is an important aspect of your everyday valour….)

Voting almost seems to be a “for a choice” between the devil and the sea (I excluded “deep blue”, I would like to work for them one day…:-))

Some of my meditations on this topic are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. I look at a Varun Gandhi and wonder, does he represent me? On the other side of the fence, does his cousin represent me.
  2. Does Narenda Modi and his shining Gujrat entice me to move to Gujarat?
  3. Do Mayawati, Laloo, the Thackeray’s ever feature in any movie save my nightmare?
  4. My mom votes every year – she does not vote for an agenda or a candidate, she votes for a party. Even if Kasab stood on the BJP ticket, she would vote for him. Same with my dad. Do I have any such strong affiliations?
  5. When I look at the people around me, my colleagues at office, neighbours at home, immediate and far flung family – I struggle to see how they can elect anyone “sensible” (which should be read as someone I relate to). Note, my colleagues, neighbours and family represent the intelligentsia educated fraternity of this country.

What do I expect, do I expect utopia? Here are some of “the simple life things” in a very random order

  1. Clean and drivable roads.
  2. A playground where my kids can play.
  3. A sense of culture and belonging (which I sorely miss….I feel for more Pandit Bhimsen Joshi than I feel for India….is it really “my country”, whereas Panditji is “mine”, he is a part of me, though he is far away in Pune, a complete stranger to me….point is, I don’t get a feeling of belonging in India). On the topic of culture, is breaking mosques my culture? Is beating north Indians my culture? Is bribe-eating pandus (cops) my culture? Are insatiable politicos my culture? Is the current bollywood representative of me? Is the current music (Abhijeet Sawant and the ilk) my culture? Get the drift….what happened to street plays, what happened to classical music, what happened to kutcheris, what happened to Taraporewala Aquarium, what happened to Haji Ali?
  4. Healthcare – a simple stroke victim recently ran up a bill of 8L in our family. I am not sure how many people can afford that? Does that mean we let the others die.
  5. Accountability – My boss screws my happiness, every time I make a small mistake. He judges me by (mutually agreed) targets he sets for me. Can we see some semblance of goal-report card model in polity.
  6. Transparency – Every year 100 million fucking bunnies like me pay 31% tax and 2.2 % cess on top of it. The 2.2% cess is for education. Pray, what and who are we educating. The Muncipal school opposite the L&T office at Powai is ghost town with crumbling walls. 20L and it can be made into a nice spanking school…..Is my 2.2% not enough?
  7. Merit. An actor who is also a gun totting terrorist can stand in elections, anyone heard of “social contribution?” A SC student can get into AIIMS with 60% marks, whereas general category cannot get in with even 97% (for God’s sake, you jackasses we are talking future doctors here), a girl can get into IIM far easily as compared to a guy (+ve gender bias)…..

Each of these examples are fairly easy to implement/correct if we have will (both political and collective). The point is we have neither political will nor collective will.

As I said before, there is corruption, root level decay in something as simple as my apartment society office (I live at Raheja in Powai). Large scale misadministration is apparent to even a non-involved person like me. another example from my housing complex – every maid who has to work in the Raheja Vihar complex has to pay the Security guard Rs.200 a month as “maintenance charges”.

If the decay is so fundamental, and so ingrained in our DNA, what is the point we are making. Where is the choice, how is A going to be better than B or C or Z or Abu Salem?

Okay, some smart jackass said vote for Meera Sanyal (“she represents the educated YOU”….you kidding, in my eyes, she’s an uglier looking Aishwarya Rai, a dumb blonde to the core…her plugs on TV are hilarious…she has no context of her own bank’s problems…lets completely skip the nation bit).

Others say why not vote for Capt. Gopinath (the ex-Pilot ran a populist private airline company…yes, you heard right, like Ratan Tata, capt runs companies which do “charity”… how can we believe he will ever stop farmer subsidies and national rip off).

Is it all gloomy and doomsday? Not really, I think if each of us worked hard for our sense of completion – a la Ayn Rand, we could bring this nation a better report card…..but that preachy theory is for another day.

Voting Card:
I pay 33% of my hard earned wealth as taxes. The cash hungry politics want my vote(or do they?) and yet they cannot get a simple voting card right. I have voting registration from two different constituencies, both with incorrect/incomplete information, inspite of me having filled it correct 4 times recently at multiple places on each of the forms.


evm2 ballot-unit-of-evm

Voting machine:

I wonder how much effort does it take to tamper a BHEL voting machine. Various ways in which you can do it:

  1. Switch the DRAM in which the votes are stored.
  2. The names on the voting panel are written on paper, like a phone fast dial….switch the paper names before voting, and then reverse it before sending it for counting.
  3. Don’t booth capture the booth, but capture the machine in transit and replace it. “BHEL EVMs – by the elected MPs, for the elected MPs, of the elected MPs”

I can provide another 50 ways of doing it. Its all there easy to find on google.

I am not only the tiny 1% of India which is educated, but even within that 1% I am off the standard deviation curve, which means I am totally not representative of the nation.

My alienation/estrangement is complete, not just with the polity, but with the world as a whole. Why right do I even have to choose a representative? Hence, I voluntarily give up :-) (The modern pink slip….companies force you to resign rather than chuck you out, “its better for YOUR career.”)

28th April is a day to relax, a holiday for me. While India does Jaagore.com, I will do extended dream catching.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Post 597 : Human Willpower. How Amazing. Petronas

Sri and Smitha (Srikanth Ramasubramanian & Smitha Shetty), Vivek (Menon), wifey and I were having this heated debate on whether “Lance Armstrong training a week after a 5inch metal was inserted into his shoulder” is plain mad or is this what is called “willpower”.

Nike Sportswear Lance Armstrong Launches Stages -qyLF8kGBDLl

I argued ferociously that willpower is all that we live by….and anything but victory or completion, is equivalent to “death” – I am sure Lance thinks like that. His battle against cancer, his heroics in Tour de France are not just legion, but are superhuman. I have said this before and I say it again, between a million dollars in the bank and successfully (and comfortably) running the 42k marathon, give me the later any day. I want to run 42k before I die. (Will I? Well, thats another digression!!…I also want to climb to the top of Everest…my wife says “yah! yah! and you are build of Krypton Mortar!!”)

Sri’s point (and fairly logical one at that) was, when you train 7 days post a shoulder bone breakage, you need be classified as “obsessively mad” – a journey (that according to Sri) goes to no end. “Its just as meaningless/crazy to an outsider as it meaningful to Lance” .

I posed this to myself:
1. I am practing for the Tour De France.
2. I break my knee bone.
3. Will I stop and give up training this year, and hence ensure that I can compete for the next few years? Or will I, endure all, go give it a shot, risk permanent injury and never again drive in Tour De France

Honest answer:
1. I will just all out this year. For me winning this year is more important than winning in the next 5. They will take care of themselves, if I am alive. I sincerely believe, life is too fragile and on-the-edge to plan for the next 5 years.
2. Thats how I am, rolling, living on the edge and believing that “the end” is never more than a probability event away from you.

Is this obsession? No? Is this approach crazy? If you define “crazy” as anything outside standard deviation, then it bloody hell is.

Lastly, two quick ad-lines:

1. Adidas screaming “Impossible is Nothing”…and hell, I really believe that. Everything is possible for a cost. Question is, can you afford it?
2. In the recent Sepang Grand Prix, saw the Petronas TV ad – it shows 2 pugilists (boxers) in a the death of a match. They are both battered, bleeding with swollen eyes. One of the boxers hammers the other on the cheek – a fatal right…..the other one collapses onto the floor of the ring. The refree starts counting. The camera pans on the face of the fallen boxer and shows the “counting fingers” from his blurred vision. He can hardly see. “Imagine being subjected to 5-g G forces”.
Cut to a next scence where fireman are fighting raging fire. The copy says “ Imagine being inside a pressure cooker at 50 degrees”.
Cut lastly to a chopter rescue mission on the high seas, where a person jumps into the deep sea. Copy says “ Imagine your heart rate beating at 210 bpm”

Then it pans out to a Williams car running on the Forumala1 Track “That is what a Formula One Driver goes through”.

Final Copy "Human Willpower. How Amazing."

Gives me the goose pimples!!

The Petronas Ad at.....

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Post 596 : A Mega Flop or a Nano Success


1237931762160 tata-nano-standard


Since I have heard about the Nano (the Tata one, that is), I have never really liked the idea. It is flawed and for various reasons. Here are my few bits.

1. It seems a ridiculous to design a car around a price point. Can you imagine if we started doing that with software (“I will develop whatever I can in 1L, make it behave like what is supposed to be e.g. trading system, it wont be the best trading system, but I am sure it will work”). This hare brained theory assumes there is a price point for everything in the market. That is the most muddle headed assumption in my head….wait, a minute, I stand corrected….there is indeed a price point demand for every item in the market, whether YOU can sustain business at that price point is upto debate (actually its not a debate, the answer is YOU CANNOT).

2. Is Tata Motors connected to the “Sisters of Charity”', I mean is this a business or is this altruism?

3. I firmly disagree with the notion that such a ridiculous business plan can make money.

4. Lets move on to safety. How can the Nano frame be safer than a Mobike (Ratan Tata’s famed example, “I saw a family of 4 on a bike and wanted to give them safety”). This is nutty. You replace a 2 wheeled coffin with a 4 wheeled one.

5. Give me one Tata car which has been a commercial success AT THE RIGHT TIME. Lets rewind a bit. Indica was way ahead in 1999 when it came out with a SMALL BIG car concept. Its reliability and sturdiness was very suspect, right until XETA 2007. They have finally got it right with Quadrajet Vista? Will you buy an Indica Vista today? No way, A-Star, i10 are way ahead in that league.


tata-indica-ev-1 Original Indica

untitled  new Indica Vista
- Example 2 – Safari was a phenomenal aspiration of a  car (I always wanted one when I was growing up). Till 2004 it was un-reliable and expensive, and now that they have a Dicor 2.2 under 13L, will I buy it? Are you Nuts, give me a Scorpio on the lower and Montero 18L on the higher side.

tata-safari-2005 AETV447837_1b
- Example 3 – SUMO a good utility vehicle could have grabbed the Armada market. What did it do? Nothing “Kuch log sumo chalate hain” was their crappy ad. And now in 2008, they launch Sumo Grande for 7L. Give me a Scorpio.

Tata_Sumo Original Sumo

tata-sumo-grande-photo Sumo Grande

6. Mr. Ratan Tata, please fire your brand managers. WhoTF wants a Vista which is still called an Indica, whoTF wants a Grande still called a Sumo?

7. Tata Motors has “call center vehicles, LMV and taxis” in their DNA. Even a Indigo XL lost out in the brand war inspite of a decent platform and a good pricing.



So whats my point with all of this screaming?

1. Nano will sell – will be a hot seller in the first year (just like the Safari and Indica were in their initial years).

2. In about 12 months everyone will realise what a rip off this car. I am sure it will acquire the reputation of a “Coffin” car, a la Maruti Omni Van.

3. By then Renault will come in with a solid offering in that segment and so will others who will see big business in that area. (Heard Suzuki and Skoda are eyeing that segment).

4. Tata will take 7 years to mature Nan0 by when the market will be dead and long gone.



My prediction:

1. Nano is bound to fail (eventually).

2. Tata Motors today (4th April 2009) trades at an EV/EBITDA of 8.61. My bet is the whole market will be re-rated (MOVE significantly up) in 12 months from now, and YET, on 1st May 2009, Tata Motors will trade at an EV/EBITDA of less than 8.61



Call me non-patriotic (yeah for some reason the “nano coffin” is equated with Indianness…holy crap), call me a cynic, call me a rude bunny, a crack jack fuckup….whatever suits….I think I have only 1 question to idiots who will spend 1.8L on a power steering AC Nano

Why will you not buy a 2005 Santro Xing XP, or a Spark DS with all the features and a million times more reliability than a Tata. (I speak from experience, I rode a Santro for almost 5 years, its reliability is legion)? You will get that car for 1.8L or much lesser ….

I rest my case.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Post 595 : Brilliant Airtel Ad (Dil Ki Baat Bata Kar Toh Dekho)

From http://www.rahmanism.com/2009/02/dil-ki-baat-airtel-tv-ad.html

Gives me goose pimples, every time I see the video. Its brilliant!!

Nigahein nigahoan se mila kar toh dekho.
Naye logon se rishta bana kar toh dekho.

Hasratein dil mein dabane se kya haasil hoga,
Apne hoanth hila kar toh dekho.

Khamoshi se kab hoti hai khwahishein poori,
Dil ki baat bata kar toh dekho.

Jo hai dil mein use kar do bayaan.
Khud ko ek baar jata kar toh dekho

Aasmaan simat jayega tumhare aaghosh mein,
Chahat ki bahein phaila kar toh dekho

Dil ki baat bata kar toh dekho

Picked Translation from http://rapidraja.blogspot.com/2009/02/airtel-tv-commercial-dil-ki-baat.html

(I actually think this is an amazing translation!! Really brilliant job)

Hold that gaze , Do linger a while
Make a new friend ,By sharing a smile
Ardent desires ,Struggling for voice
Unshackle your lips ,That the heart may rejoice

Give life and expression ,To the song in your soul
Let yearnings see light ,Don't fear losing control
The sky with its bounty ,The world with its charms
Is yours for the taking ,So spread wide your arms

Let your heartbeats play out ,Their tune without guile
And between two hearts ,You'll have traversed a mile

Post 594 : Zandu Balm Ad (from old days)

Zandu balm, zandu balm; peeda haari balm,
Sardi, sar dard, peeda ko pal mein door kare
Zandu balm.... (pause with music) zandu balm!!

Post 593 : Ghajini Theme song…

On a random note, most desi’s would remember Priya Tendulkar’s Rajani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priya_Tendulkar), and the thumpy theme song it had, which went, “Rajani Rajani Rajani….”

We should have used it for Ghajani what say?

(I think I am getting demented…)

Post 592 : Four Elements

Within your nature
Is every element,

So listen to
Some sage advice;

You are demon
And wild beast
And angel
And Human...

Whatever you cultivate
That you will be.

- Baba Afdal Kashani

(from Love's Alchemy by David Fideler, Sabrineh Fideler)

Post 591 : What is a recursive cloud….

I read the article below (Subverse) after I read Sridhar Mahadevan's "Deciphering the universe Video Game". I am sure we all have mediated on a similar thought like Sridhar (at least I have). Loop this thought, tie it into the first article, and what do you have?

You have characters in a game (us) trying to create machines (further games) which will further behave like us. Also parallely we are trying to create games which mimic our real life. (Read Second Life by LindenLabs).

Where does all this lead to?

A game created within a game created within a game....and this can go on. 'n' levels of recursion and mutiple levels of stack.

One last thought to ponder upon - what happens when a character in the 'nth' level of the game, raise a "who am I, what am I doing here?" type of question.

How ironic is that?


From TimesofIndia.com 2nd April Thu 2009


Computers vs brains by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang

Inventor Ray Kurzweil, in his 2005 futurist manifesto, The Singularity Is Near, extrapolates current trends in computer technology to conclude that machines will be able to out-think people within a few decades. However, any comparison with computers misses a messy truth. Because the brain arose through natural selection, it contains layers of systems that arose for one function and then were adopted for another, even though they don’t work perfectly.

An engineer with time to get it right would have started over, but it’s easier for evolution to adapt an old system to a new purpose than to come up with an entirely new structure. As a result, brains differ from computers in many ways, from their highly efficient use of energy to their tremendous adaptability.

In the brain’s wiring, space is at a premium, and is more tightly packed than even the most condensed computer architecture. One cubic centimetre of human brain tissue, which would fill a thimble, contains 50 million neurons; several hundred miles of axons, the wires over which neurons send signals; and close to a trillion synapses, the connections between neurons. The memory capacity in this small volume is potentially immense. Although we’re forced to guess because the neural basis of memory isn’t understood at this level, let’s say that one movable synapse could store one byte (8 bits) of memory. That thimble would then contain 1,000 gigabytes (1 terabyte) of information. A thousand thimblefuls make up a whole brain, giving us a million gigabytes — a petabyte — of information. To put this in perspective, the entire archived contents of the internet fill just 3 petabytes.

To address this challenge, Kurzweil invokes Moore’s law, the principle that for the last four decades, engineers have managed to double the capacity of chips (and hard drives) every year or two. If we imagine that the trend will continue, it’s possible to guess when a single computer the size of a brain could contain a petabyte. That would be about 2025 to 2030.

This projection overlooks the dark, hot underbelly of Moore’s law: power consumption per chip, which has also exploded since 1985. By 2025, the memory of an artificial brain would use nearly a gigawatt of power, the amount currently consumed by all of Washington, DC. Compare this with your brain, which uses about 12 watts, an amount that supports not only memory but all your thought processes. This is less than the energy consumed by a typical refrigerator light. 

A brain’s success is not measured by its ability to process information in precisely repeatable ways. Instead, it has evolved to guide behaviours that allow us to survive and reproduce, which often requires fast responses to complex situations. As a result, we constantly make approximations and find “good-enough” solutions. This leads to mistakes and biases. 

Still, engineers could learn a thing or two from brain strategies. For example, even the most advanced computers have difficulty telling a dog from a cat, something that can be done at a glance by a toddler — or a cat. We use emotions,the brain’s steersman, to assign value to our experiences and to future possibilities, often allowing us to evaluate potential outcomes efficiently and rapidly when information is uncertain. 

If engineers can understand how to apply these shortcuts and tricks, computer performance could begin to emulate some of the more impressive feats of human brains. However, this route may lead to computers that share our imperfections. This may not be exactly what we want from robot overlords. 

This gets us to the deepest point: why bother building an artificial brain? As neuroscientists, we’re excited about the potential of using computational models to test our understanding of how the brain works. On the other hand, although it eventually may be possible to design sophisticated computing devices that imitate what we do, the capability to make such a device is already here. All you need is a fertile man and woman with the resources to nurture their child to adulthood. With luck, by 2030 you’ll have a full-grown, college educated, walking petabyte. A drawback is that it may be difficult to get this computing device to do what you ask. — NYTNS

Post 590 : Attachment

Whoever's chained to the world
Suffers more.

Whoever's free of attachment,
Like a dervish,
Suffers less.

A donkey with a louder bell
Always attracts a heavier load.

-Abu Said Abi lKhayr

(from Love's Alchemy by David Fideler, Sabrineh Fideler)

Post 589 : Movie 23 : Ghajini (How mindless can mindless be?)


This has to Aamir’s response to Drona (http://spinningawheel.blogspot.com/2008/11/post-449-movie-16-drona-or-what-good.html). Its the most inane, idiotic movie I have seen in the recent past.

Wait a minute….

Its not really like Drona. Drona at least tried to have a plot, and in that attempt provided some hilarious moments.

This one can take you towards slumber as easily as Calmpose.

Things I hated (not dis-liked…note the word is hated):
1. Asin is a complete washout. In my opinion she is neither gorgeous nor is she smart. I think she comes from the cow family (especially her expressions and asinine (or bovine) hamming).
2. Aamir Khan 6 pack is gruesome….it makes you want to eat Lays and Amul Shrikand….give me love handles any day over this grotesque physique.
3. If Asin is a cow, Zia Khan has to be from the dodo family. No expressions, no acting, no remote attempt at looking gorgeous. She zombies her way around even while hamming. (I think Mr. Murgadoss measures hamming as a competence during screen test…most of the screen cast here are toppers in the score…average 7+ out of 10)
4. The nameless (jackass) of a villian…who is neither scary, nor is funny, nor is iconic, nor is menacing….infact he is just a robot who utters some inane dialogues.
5. Rajni style fight scenes look good on the ‘King"’…leave the man his genre. We don’t like the sight of a man spinning 20 times in the air, getting the elevation of a missile and land 10 metres away. I think that only looks good in a Rajni movie….Not when a tiny Aamir knocks a punch with his left hand….
6. Aamir bhai…whats with the constipated face in the happier avtaar as well (in the film that is). …..is it piles or hammeroids or fissures or a plain case of botox!!
7. Absolute lack of a screen play, characterisation. I am sure Murgadoss, while smoking pot (on the pot),must have thought “who needs a script, screen play, characterisation when you have a dumb bimbo, a over-acting femme and a 8 pack ugly bald man!!….this will sell, this is what my audience wants, lets give it to them!!…fuck the rest of the movie-making process!!)

Things I liked:
1. Nothing…. read my lips….N O T H I N G…..not even the over-done AR Rahman music and under-sexed Gulzar lyrics.

Another wasted 3 hours of my precious life!! Rating 2 out of 10.

Post 588 : Weight Watcher 21 : Death (finally) caught up with me….

A personal loss in the family, and a chaffed leg…both were causes for me to take a 35 day break from exercising.

The thing with trying to be fit is, your mind almost always like to be a sloth. Give it a chance and it will slip into non-action.

The good part is, in April I have already finished 2 days of 3 where I have followed some sort of fitness regime.

In Feb it was 12 out of 28 and March was 3 out of 31, taking the total now to 784 days of which I have worked out on  369 (tracking since 5th Feb 2007).

Here’s hoping April is a much better month…..

Post 587 : Asleep

When I became water,
I looked like a mirage

When I became the sea
I looked like froth and foam.

When I became aware,
The entire world seemed forgetful.

When I became awake,
I  saw I'd been asleep

-Binawa Badakshani

(from Love's Alchemy by David Fideler, Sabrineh Fideler)