Sunday, January 21, 2007


I registered with BlogMailr and tried to email a post, but gave up after I received 38 (!) automated replies that informed me that they were unable to post my messages after several attempts. Ignoring this for the moment, the following are my initial impressions with BlogMailr:
  • The customised email address is too complicated to remember
  • There are no instructions on how to compose your email so that it is fit for publication

The POP protocol

I recently upgraded to Nokia N73 and set up email on it yesterday. I was able to retrieve and view new messages (Gmail), but there's a problem here: when I try to retrieve messages from Thunderbird, these new messages are not retrieved because they are no longer new. The issue (I think) is that the 'state' -- i.e the ID of the most recent message that a POP client has retrieved -- is not stored in the client but in the mail server instead. Therefore we cannot synchronise multiple POP clients simultaneously with the contents in the server. I've read that IMAP is a superior protocol, so maybe it has this feature.

Cult of personality

Sri Sai Baba is spending ten days at an ashram very close to where I live. The entire area is chock full of cars parked at every available space and there are hundreds of thronging devotees. This puts us residents to a lot of hardship, because we have to a) convince the policemen/volunteers that we do have business in this area because we have been living here for something like ten fricken years, and our vehicles should be permitted to enter the side streets around the ashram and b) wend our way through already-narrow streets narrowed even further on account of the parked cars.

Having said this, I must mention the excellent behaviour of the volunteers -- whom a part of me considers as cult members, with their all-white attire and weird blue scarves -- who are very courteous and well-mannered as they go about controlling the traffic and the crowds. I really don't know more about Sai Baba to comment further, but it looks like a lot of good work is being done by channelling the devotees' energies. More power to them.

Paging Freud

I have noticed something of late: when I open my desk drawer to take something out, I invariably forget to close it. This is not general absent-minded behaviour, because I am not forgetful about other things. Oh well.

Friday, January 19, 2007


If you click on any of the Blogger labels, the URL is of the form <blog address>/search/label/<label name> (e.g. but where is the search here? Since I don't have any option to search for a term in posts within a label, shouldn't it be 'browse' instead?

Some more Kalam-bashing

President Kalam recently gave a speech that attempted to lay out the new challenges faced by law enforcement personnel and how they can better equip themselves to tackle these challenges. It was a very insipid and inane speech, with generous dollops of vague generalities and cliches. Some samples:
Our police force needs to be friendly, corruption-free, responsible, tolerant of ambiguity and pressure, and must have compassion and empathy for the people. It should be efficient and time conscious, stress tolerant, mentally and physically fit and robust, able to provide high quality leadership potential at all levels of the hierarchy, and be a model for conduct and discipline.
If wishes were horses...
Those who threaten our security and our peace often can intermix with our public and may become indistinguishable particularly in the cities. They use very high-end technologies. Innovative flow charts have to be evolved with experience to find how this phenomenon is taking place and how intelligence agencies can counter it.
Innovative flow charts? Huh?
One of the major revolutions in information has been the advent of the World Wide Web. It contains a vast amount of information.
No sh*t, Sherlock.
A master plan for a city traffic system should be evolved for the short term, medium term, and long term — using a mathematical model ... Long-term infrastructure development for traffic decongestion has to be planned and executed, taking into account the growth of the city's population ...
Well, duh.

Why I think India will continue to remain a developing country

Yesterday I was waiting behind a car at the traffic lights. A hand appeared outside its driver's window and casually dropped a matchstick on to the road. I was mildly disgusted by this uncivic behaviour, but worse was to follow: a couple of seconds later, the still-smouldering matchstick was joined by an empty cigarette packet.

To add insult to injury, a big plume of smoke then emanated from the car, even as the culprit gave me a bored look in his rear-view mirror.

Migrated to new version of Blogger

Well, it happened finally: an easier, two-step process to migrate to the newer, better version of Blogger.

President Kalam poses question on Yahoo Answers

With all due respect, aren't there better ways for him to spend his time, instead of posing such questions? I'm sure he would be monitoring the answers too (Kiran Bedi, Leander Paes and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have posted answers -- which brings me to my next question: don't you guys have nothing better to do?), so that's even more time spent unproductively surfing the web, when he could have been creeping small schoolchildren out instead.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Here are some choice phrases from Sajjad Gani Lone (vis a vis the Kashmir issue):
The People's Conference formula was multidimensional and dealt with evolution of power in both parts of Kashmir, and not devolution.
The context of the dispute was historical till 1989 and sacrificial since.
Fine prose that means diddly-squat.

I don't get it

If the motive of the Americans was to remove the Saddam threat permanently, wouldn't it have been simpler to fake an encounter at the time of his capture -- a la Uday and Qusay -- and finish him off without any fuss? What was the need for a 'trial' and an execution? The only conclusion left is that they wanted to use his death to further the sectarian divide.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I call BS

I wanted to blog about this yesterday itself, but couldn't get around to it. In the meantime, the letters to the editor at The Hindu have already responded to this more eloquently than I ever could. To set the context first, a couple of army officers were thrown into jail by the police for allegedly misbehaving at a party. Their comrades came to know of this, and arranged a delta force to storm the police station and 'rescue the hostages'. Here are snippets from a couple of officers' letters defending this action:
It is quite natural for army men to rescue their comrades in distress. They are trained to do so.
I only see the display of camaraderie among officers and swiftness of action.
Easy there Sparky, a couple more incidents like this, and all the remaining goodwill and respect we civilians have for men in uniform will vanish completely.

A violation of the mind

From yesterday's Hindu:
Narco-analysis is not used in many countries, including the United States, which resisted changing the rules of interrogation after the September 11 attacks despite pressure from some authorities -- including former Central Intelligence Agency chief William Webster -- to use 'truth serums' on uncooperative Al Qaeda and Taliban members.
The editors at The Hindu are usually unimpeachable with their facts, so I'll take their word for it, but my impression was that the American government were/are using truth serums on Al Qaeda suspects.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Guards taunted Saddam in final seconds

Saddam may have been a brutal dictator and may have deserved the death penalty, but the way his execution has been carried out has made me lose what little sympathy I had for the Iraqis -- I don't mean the innocent Iraqis caught in the crossfire, but the insurgents who are fighting each other and the American occupation. The bottom line is that these guys have no sense of nation or patriotism; only sectarian and tribal loyalties matter to them. If these guys don't care about their own country, why should the rest of the world give a damn when Iraq implodes?

Compare this sordid affair with the way the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa managed to put the bad blood behind them and move on. The difference is that they had a Nelson Mandela with the moral authority to pull it off; here we have just a bunch of vengeful killers.