Friday, September 29, 2006

Movie Review: The Hills Have Eyes

Shocking and disturbing.

No, I don't use these words to describe the use of so much gore and violence in the movie. It's shocking and disturbing that I spent Rs 150 and wasted a perfectly fine evening -- I took off early from work, for God's sake -- on this piece of sh*t of a movie.

I don't care how faithful the prodigy director has been to Wes Craven's classic, and even bettered Craven's effort, if some horror movie buffs in are to be believed, or how original and uncliched his rendition is. All I know is that I spent the last half an hour so laughing my ass off at the way the story unfolded, and wondering whether it would sink any lower, and laughing even more as it did.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So this was the jumping-the-shark moment in Friends

I was watching one of the 'Best of Friends' episodes last night, the one where Joey 'pretends' that he speaks French. At the very end of the episode, when the credits are rolling by, he proves to Phoebe that he can really drink a gallon of milk in ten seconds, and makes a right royal ass of himself (and the entire show) by proceeding to drench himself in milk.

People, it's not an either/or choice!

Vajpayee on Musharraf's book:
The former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on Tuesday said the Agra Summit of 2001 failed because Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf refused to accept terrorism as the cause of bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir, insisting that it was a result of the people's battle for freedom.
I think it is incorrect to think that freedom fighters cannot be terrorists. Just because the phrase "freedom fighter" brings to our mind great people like Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose, it seems to get our goats when we hear terrorists referred to as freedom fighters. A terrorist is someone who kills innocent civilians in order to attain a political objective. Going by this definition, a terrorist who kills civilians belonging to an 'occupying' country in order to attain the objective of removing the occupier is very much a freedom fighter, never mind whether the quest for freedom is legitimate or not.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Have you seen this man?

He's in his late forties, has a two-day stubble, and has bloodshot eyes. He's probably drunk, or is just getting out of his hangover. His clothes, though not ragged, are well-worn.

But he's not just an average joe; there's something in his face that sets him apart, an innate intelligence or cunning. He's the one sitting idly in the tea shop and passing knowledgeable comments as someone reads out the day's stories from the paper. He's someone who's fallen on hard times, probably because of his drinking. Talk to him, and you'll find that he's very articulate, maybe even in English. But beware, he's very likely to impress you with his language and sophistication, and touch you for whatever you can spare him.

Why am I blathering on about this person, you ask? No reason, except that I saw a person fitting this profile a couple of days ago, and this triggered a train of thoughts; one incident in particular, when I was conned out of five bucks by such a person (he claimed to be blind or something, I forget).

Anyway, you can't help but like this person, scoundrel though he may be. He's the guy who's wasted his life looking for quick deals, the hottest racing tip that nobody else knows. He has burnt his fingers quite a few times, and is cynical as hell. Life has passed him by, in all probability, but he's still out there, keeping a lookout for an opportunity, a mark, while all he's certain about is the temporary relief he feels every night as the booze hits home, if only he could hustle the money for it by six o'clock...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Too disgusted to think of a title

A person gets admitted to hospital because of a brain hemorrhage. The hospital has two choices:
  1. Operate on the hemorrhage

  2. Give the man a haircut
Which option should it choose? Well, if the hospital were anything like the Tamil Nadu government, it will be option 2:
Next, these tribals will be able to use (a) motor to draw water from the well, build toilets and improve hygiene. Their children will be encouraged to spend more time with books and their overall living will improve.
The above comment is from a bureaucrat, who's talking about how some remote hamlets in the state have gotten to see a light bulb for the first time in their lives because the government wanted them to be able to enjoy their free television sets.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What breakthrough?

I really cannot understand what the fuss is all about. India and Pakistan have agreed to resume talks, that's all. Call me a cynic, but nothing on the ground is going to change; we have been down this road too many times. This is just a ploy by both countries to pretend to be moving somewhere while all they're doing is just running on the same spot.

Update: Do they take us all for idiots? "NAM totally opposed to terrorism", says a declaration. Oh goody, we can all go home now. The terrorists have been defeated.

Now I know why Intel is struggling

From their ad in today's Hindu:
[Intel Core 2 Duo Processor] automates routine tasks like billing. And lets you keep track of which clients have paid.
Either Intel have added accounting capabilities to their chips, or they are counting on the cluelessness of their customers and are deliberately misleading them into thinking that their chips have capabilities not present in their competitors' products. Either way, they don't come out smelling of roses.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Circularly Defined Word of the Day

From today's Word of the Day:
inhere: to be inherent.

Tell me something

How is talking on a hands-free mobile phone while driving different from talking to the passenger in the car? Aren't both equally distracting?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friedman's at it again

There was absolutely no reason for the Hezbollah attack on July 12 across the UN-recognised Israel-Lebanon border, in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two abducted.
If Hezbollah could just attack Israel -- unprovoked -- claiming among its goals the liberation of Jerusalem, and using missiles provided by the Iranian regime that says Israel should be wiped off the face of the map, then it was a war about everything.
  1. Did the abduction of the Israeli soldiers really happen across the border?

  2. Is it really fair to call the "attack" unprovoked, when hundreds of Lebanese people are languishing in Israeli prisons, and the abductions were a way to negotiate for their release?

  3. I was under impression that the "wipe Israel off the face of the map" phrase was shown by Juan Cole to be an inaccurate translation?
To give credit where it's due, at least Friedman recognises that
Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon are unsustainable.
I don't even know why I still read his column.

Two specific instances

...of our netas taking advantage of loopholes in the system:
  1. Contesting an assembly election as an independent while being a Rajya Sabha member of a political party

  2. A state assembly speaker sitting on a decision to disqualify two MLAs for 18 months because he wanted to protect the government
Both instances can be avoided by amending the concerned law, but do you think these scumbags will ever allow that?

And to think that people bristle at even the idea that Kalam could have used the 'hey-no-hurry-take-your-own-time' option to stall the Office of Profit Bill indeterminately.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Joke of the day

From a post in COLA:
> If I want to create a distro called
> "Death to the Infidel Linux"
> I should be allowed.

It already exists.
It's called Microsoft Vista.

Monday, September 11, 2006

This is not funny

From a letter to The Hindu:
New Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai, and now Malegaon. The incidents are the same, so is the reaction. Only the people who deliver the dialogues are different. The Chief Minister concerned calls for a high-level meeting, condemns the blasts, and declares ex-gratia for the family of the dead and the injured. Visits by the Union Home Minister, the Prime Minister, and the President follow. The Prime Minister says no power on earth can divide the country, that the culprits would be arrested, and that the people should remain calm. News channels make merry. They offer to talk to anyone who is ready to offer an opinion. After about a month, the incident is forgotten.
I agree with all this, but would like to add one more thing to this: people write insightful letters about the incident to newspapers.

(Maybe two things: people also write blog posts about it)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Blah blah blah blah?.............Bah!

" service supply that meets the demand created by the agile business facing solution delivery environment"
-- From an article on SOA

(Yeah, like I'm really going to link to the article)

Thursday, September 07, 2006


While digging through the archives in my work PC yesterday, I found that I was in possession of VisualWorks 7.1 install files; I promptly installed VW, and as I was sitting there, idly wondering what to do with it, the 'enterprisey' side of me told me I should check out Seaside. I googled for a tutorial, and spent the next half hour going through it. Impressed with what I saw, I resolved to dig deeper, and came home and downloaded Squeak. Mistake; Squeak fonts look crappy in my Linux (OpenSuSE 10.1) box.

I turned my attention to VisualWorks. I managed to run the sample counter application in my browser, but not before some pain: you need the SeasideForWebToolkit parcel to install Seaside. This depends on the WebToolkit parcel, which in turn depends (among others) on the Regex11 and Opentalk-CGI parcels.

While I agree that managing these dependencies is not all that difficult, especially for someone used to Linux package management, a mechanism that automatically downloads and loads these parcels -- a la apt-get -- would definitely have eased the way. This was particularly apparent when I couldn't determine where I could get Regex11 (BTW, I ran into Isaac Gouy's post asking the same question -- hi Isaac); I took a guess (correctly, it turned out) and downloaded the Contributed.tar.gz file.

OK, now when I try to exit VisualWorks, I get a 'Message not understood' for some method called 'clearPageCache'. Not happy.

Update: Tried Squeak again. Fonts don't look that crappy now, for some reason. More importantly, Squeak's package management -- SqueakMap -- is more in line with what I mentioned above. I was able to download and install Seaside and its depedencies with no fuss. Nice.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Free insurance cover for tourists

This has got to be one of the more hare-brained schemes our beloved bureaucrats have pulled out of their asses. I can very well imagine a prospective tourist saying, "Honey, where shall we go for our annual vacation this year? Hmm... let me see...look, free insurance of Rs 10 lacs if we are killed by a terrorist bomb while boating in Dal Lake... sounds like a good deal... imagine, if both of us get our asses blown up, our kids will get 20 lac rupees! Talk about a no-brainer!"

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's different this time

Here's an excerpt from the preface to "Understanding Enterprise SOA" (don't even ask how I ended up reading this book):
Clearly there was merit in bringing the market back to earth. Valuations were high and rounds of venture capital funding, rather than business models, were sustaining many poorly conceived companies. But had the "irrational exuberance" been wholly irrational? The answer will surprise many: the initial optimism was justified. In fact the potential had been understated. As we will explore in this book, the fruition of the Internet's promise is coming and the resulting value creation will dwarf even the boldest estimates of the past.
Translation: You mean the Rolex I sold you three years back was a dud? Never mind, we'll settle that later. In the meantime, why don't you look at this fantastic deal I've got for you? It's a bridge in ...


Today I saw something familiar on my way to work: a crew of about eight workmen from the Electricity Board, pushing a trolley/wheelbarrow, on their way to perform some repair work. They were a very relaxed and happy bunch, with hands on each other's shoulders, cracking jokes and generally pleased with their lot.

Nothing wrong with this scene, except for the fact that, when they reach their spot, not more than two or three of them will roll up their sleeves and get down to work. The remaining five will undertake the following tasks:
  1. Smoking

  2. Providing words of encouragement to the ones actually doing the work

  3. Criticising the way the work is performed

  4. Relieving themselves behind some nearby bushes
Meanwhile, back at the 'headquarters', their supervisor is probably on his way to his first break of the day, not even aware of where all the buggers have disappeared to.

It's official

Joel is just trolling for hits.

I am going to continue reading his stuff, not because of the quality of his writing, but for the feelings he evokes: admiration for the cool way he runs a business, his entrepreneurial spirit, and the sense of freedom and joy one feels when visiting his web site (I especially like the panoramic pictures at the top) .