Friday, December 29, 2006

Here's a tip

If you don't want to subject your offspring to eternal ridicule, don't name him with the feeling you experience as you consummate your relationship with said offspring's mother.

(There's a player called 'Climax' in either the Mahindra United or Dempo Sports Club teams; too indifferent to figure out which one)

Tale of two animals - Part 2

East Coast Road. 6:25 PM. 60 kmph. Bunch of ladies trying to cross the road. Horn. Brake. Confusion. Ladies go ballistic and run helter-skelter. Shakes head in disgust.

East Coast Road. 6:26 PM. 40 kmph. Lone cow trying to cross the road. Slow down. Lone cow calmly assesses options, stops and decides to cross after car passes through. Shakes head in wonderment.

What is the world coming to?

I recently rescheduled an Air Deccan flight and was to receive a refund because of the difference in the fares. I expected another delay, but found that my Visa account was credited with the refund the very next day.

I also had a nice trip with them on this flight, and so have booked another trip.

Staying on the subject of air fares, it's amazing how much variance there is between the fares across different airlines for a given route. Forget different airlines; the price varies significantly even for the same airline for two different flights on the same day. For example, a ticket from Chennai to Mumbai costs Rs 1000 more if you opt for the evening flight instead of the morning one. Welcome to the world of we'll-charge-you-as-much-as-we-can-get-away-with, a.k.a. demand and supply, I guess.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Too close to call

Man United are leading the EPL at the halfway stage:
United has 47 points and Chelsea 45. In the past, every club with at least 47 points after 19 games has gone on to win the Premier League.
Much as I hate Chelsea and wish that this statistic would be borne out this season too, I don't think Man United are going to win the league that easily. Things are going to really heat up as we enter April/May.

Chidambaram fractures toe

When I read that Chidambaram had broken his toe in the melee that ensued when he and his entourage objected to his picture being taken by some photographers, I really couldn't understand what the fuss was all about, until I read this:
Police sources said that being on a private outing, Mr. Chidambaram was in an attire different from his usual white dhoti and white shirt.
Oh yeah, now I get it: he was wearing something that was at variance with his public image. Being photographed in that outfit would have shattered the carefully cultivated persona that he has nurtured for so long.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"Global flu pandemic would probably kill 62 million"

More fear-mongering:
Christopher Murray, from Harvard University, and colleagues looked at death registrations between 1915 and 1923 in places around the world where the data was believed to be at least 80 per cent complete. By looking at deaths before and after the pandemic and comparing them to the rate during the pandemic, they calculated the increased mortality caused by the disease.

Extrapolating that death rate to 2004, the authors calculate that between 51 million and 81 million individuals will die around the world if a similar virus causes a flu pandemic now. They say that there is no logical or biological reason why mortality should not be higher than in the Spanish flu pandemic, severe though that was.
How can anyone claim with a straight face that the conditions obtaining in the early 1900s can be compared to the present? Haven't medical science and technology undergone such quantum leaps in the last eight decades as to mitigate the effects of a similar pandemic? Unless, of course, their extrapolation made specific provisions for the increased opportunities for the virus to spread, what with all the international travel.

You can teach an old mobile new tricks

I have been using my Motorola C350 (or is it C35? I can never quite remember) for more than three years, and never knew that it had this feature: if you are exchanging a lot of SMS messages with someone, there is some point at which it realises that what is happening is actually a chat, and changes to chat mode, with an interface that is functionally identical to an IM chat screen. Neat.

Thank you IBM

... for trying to impart the gift of 'computing education' to students who need it like a man needs a third nipple. What India needs desperately is more eServerWebSphereRationalTivoli (tm) middleware drones. Really.

Pot, meet kettle

Rohit Brijnath's sports wishlist for 2007 contains this item:
17. Someone explains to us finally why wushu is at the Asian Games. And soft tennis. And trampolining. What's next? Ballroom dancing? Ludo?
Hello? We introduce kabaddi into the Asian Games, and we have the gall to complain when other countries do something similar?

Friday, December 22, 2006

What labels?

It is now supposedly possible to add labels to one's posts in Blogger, but I am not able to see the option for this.

Update: It looks like I need to log in using my Google account to access the new features. I did this, but Blogger started treating me as a new user; no way for me to link my Google account to my existing blogs. There is supposedly a migration path, but since I don't have a Master's degree, I couldn't figure it out. Couldn't the mighty brains at Google have come up with something simpler? Sheesh.

Labels: Where, is, the, frigging, option?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

NDTV, how low can you get?

Don't you scumbags have any shame? What was the need to show movie scenes involving dancing eunuchs in the story about the athlete caught in the middle of the gender controversy?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

99 Lisp Problems

I recently ran across this list of Lisp problems and added it to my 'rainy-days' link bin. One afternoon, as I was aimlessly reading posts in the JoS forum (hey, go easy on me; the proxy server at work blocks Google Groups, so I don't have much choice by way of internet entertainment), my conscience piped in that I was slacking off too much, and I decided to assuage it by trying out some of these problems. Once I did a couple of them, my interest in all things Lispy was rekindled.

It's been three days now, and I am at #27. A Lisp hacker will probably cringe at the way I've solved some of the problems, but what the hell, I'm having too much fun to care.

Reddit problems in Bloglines

The Reddit feed in Bloglines has not been updated for three days now. Let me try unsubscribing and resubscribing...Yup, that did the trick, but only partly: I am now able to see eight new items, but they are, like, a week old. I know that the problem is specific to Bloglines because Google Reader shows me the new items without a hitch.

Quote of the day

You probably should realize you're doing something wrong when people engage in long debates whether you should be compared with Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa.
-- xymphora

You know you are anal

...when you find the thought of directly pressing the little red button on your mobile phone abhorrent, and instead always press the 'Back' button 17 times to return to the main menu.

Monday, December 18, 2006

These are the times

... when you wish you had gone with PostgreSQL.

We received an email from Oracle saying that we either had to renew our support contract with them or else terminate the license altogether (and thereby lose the ability to run our production database) because we had a master contract covering other applications in our enterprise, and our decision not to renew the support contract for this application was in violation of this master contract.

The best part is that we are using the database as a plain vanilla data store; no -- ahem -- leveraging of advanced Oracle features.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jurassic Prick

From The Independent:
Crowley said he was "strangely flattered". "If someone offers substantive criticism of an author, and the author responds by hitting below the belt, as it were, then he's conceding that the critic has won."
Couldn't agree more.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Diana's death ruled an accident

If you go only by what you read in the papers, things would seem pretty cut and dried, but reading up on what has been posted in the RI Board throws up a whole new side to the controversy. There are so many unexplained things that I think we are not being told the whole truth.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Amen to that

This post by 'yesferatu' in the RI discussion board is probably the most insightful post I've read in a forum:
I do believe that is where this is headed. 9/11 facts and converts will double, and then some. They seem to be aware continued warmongering on a grand scale is not a workable diversion, since the needed draft would open up problems they do not want to anticipate. The diversion of individual economic survival will be the taser they use to keep us in line. Of course, when the immediate concern of financial survival stretches from weeks, and then months, and then years, they will still have a revolt brewing. But they will juggle the crises so that pressure is allowed to vent before any idea of uprisings, with a ready-made fresh diversion to take the place. My guess is this is their long term plan, till that time when 9/11 is history from another time, just like JFK, or the Tet ofensive [sic] is history from another time. After just a couple decades, amerikans stop caring anyway. The PTB are quite apt at shuffling and juggling these things till, lo and behold, twenty-five years has come and gone....without any challenge from the mythical "We the People", even though for that twenty-five years the facts of an evil government ruling them, amasses its proofs day after day. And yet with no rebellion.
But yes, the next diversion is financial. After that, something else, even though by then not 1/3, but probably 2/3 will accept that 9/11 was an inside job. Yet each diversion will be just enough to prevent justice and the avenging anger required. But this will happen. In the near future we will pick up the paper with a story that tells us 2/3 of us believe it was an inside job. And yet somehow we will be little islands to ourselves, unable to coagulate the 2/3 into any kind of democratic retaliation and reform.
Sickening. But true.

One down, 200 million to go

Recently a friend of mine mentioned that he wanted to download and try out Linux, so I made copies of my Kubuntu 6.06 and SuSE 10.1 CDs and sent them to him. I have also offered to help him with the installation. Let's see how it goes.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Economic storm brewing in America

There's an article in The Telegraph predicting disastrous times ahead for the American -- and hence global -- economy. These kinds of doomsday stories have been doing the rounds since I cannot remember when, but the thing that struck me the most about this one was the very high quality of the comments the story elicited from readers. It almost seems as if any of the insightful commenters could have done a better job of writing the story than the actual author.

Joke of the day

We are a sovereign country.
-- Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Uh oh

A couple of days ago I developed a yearning for some music I grew up listening to: in particular, two guys (playing insipid music) calling themselves a name that aptly summarised the way their band imploded.

Note to self: remember to switch audio scrobbling off when listening to Wham!

Cheesy government ads

Recently there was a series of newspaper ads run by the central government for raising public awareness about preserving our monuments. The theme was to depict some unthinking persons littering/vandalising/spitting inside a heritage building, and a group of goody two-shoes kids pointing at them and saying something disdainful.

All the ads -- four, if I remember correctly -- were incredibly cheesy, but the last one in the series took the gold medal: a man spitting on a monument wall. I guess they erred on the side of making their point, rather than going for realism. Here's a clue: when somebody spits paan on a wall, he doesn't disgorge something like half a litre in one shot, unless said person is also so far gone that he's vomiting blood (I'd have liked to scan the ad and post it, but my scanner isn't playing ball).

Speaking of gold medals, I was about to post something about North Korea getting more golds than us at the Asian Games, but mercifully we have overtaken them. Rhetorical question of the day: how is a country that is ravaged by international isolation, famine, lack of development, and rule by an eccentric dictator able to do better than (or at least as well as) us?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Waiter, there's a lizard on my keyboard

"Your search - lizard on lizard - did not match any documents." Better luck next time, little guy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Excuse me?

Why is Gmail running these ads when there is no mention of the word 'bra' (seriously; I kid thee not) in my email?

Noam Chomsky

I was under the impression that Chomsky's books are well referenced, but this is not so, according to Jeffrey Blankfort:
As a matter of fact, there was an article on Counterpunch by someone from Harvard, who complained that Chomsky's books were not being reviewed by serious, scholarly journals. And I wrote this guy back and said, Chomsky's very lucky because nobody who writes thirty books in thirty years would be considered a serious scholar. A serious book requires a lot of time and research, and Chomsky hasn't done that. And when I decided to do an article called "Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict," I didn't realize what a snake pit it is when you're trying to investigate what Chomsky has written because it's more self-referential than a good scholarly work should be. So what happens is that you're reading in a book of his, and you go back to a footnote, it will often refer to another book he's written.


This puzzle has been sitting in my feed items list for quite a while now. I keep resolving to spend some time on it, but haven't yet had a chance to give it a serious shot.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Staying on the subject of animals

My beloved rats have gone on to a higher level. They have now taken to hijacking whole bars of soap from the bathroom for their dinner. I can't for the life of me imagine what kind of nutrition they derive from soap bars, though.

I replaced the bar of soap with a king-size bar. It looks like their soapy diet hasn't made them stronger; incapable of lugging the larger bar, they have taken to eating at the restaurant instead of ordering take-aways: I found a couple of rodent teeth marks on the bar today.

Hope I don't turn into Ratman.

Tale of two animals

On my way to work today morning, a cow started crossing the road in front of me. It looked at my car, quickly ran some time/distance calculations in its brain and decided that it wouldn't make it across the road at its current leisurely pace. It put its foot on the pedal, as it were, and got safely to the other side.

Two seconds after I finished admiring the animal's intelligence, another animal, a biped on a motorcycle this time, cut across my path from the left and proceeded to make a right turn, forcing me to brake in order to avoid hitting it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oops, I did it again

Paid twice for an online bill, that is.

This time it was with Airtel. The first payment was through my credit card; the transaction was not approved for some reason. I waited a day, and made the payment again, this time through my bank account. Later, while reconciling my credit card statement, to my shock, bewilderment, astonishment, and indignation (who am I kidding? I half expected this to happen), I found an entry corresponding to the 'failed' payment.

Airtel has excellent customer service. It took just one phone call for them to acknowledge the double payment and assure me that the second payment would be adjusted against my next bill.

Pimping your column

Memo to The Hindu: stop wasting valuable space on piddling product reviews. It reflects poorly on the integrity of your journalists when they start gushing about the virtues of a camera when there are so many other interesting things to write about.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What lousy infrastructure?

I made a trip to Bangalore by car this week. It's been a while since I took the road route, and the transformation was quite amazing; there was not a single pothole or bump on the entire stretch, and the drive was a very pleasant change from the ordeals these trips usually are.

Here's a way

... to prevent desecration of statues and the rioting that follows: stop putting up these statues at every frigging street corner.