Saturday, December 31, 2005

10th Anniversary .... of the end of an era

Today is the tenth anniversary of the last Calvin and Hobbes strip published (Dec 31, 1995) - bringing to a close one of the greatest cartoon strips of the modern era. Its creator, Bill Watterson fought a long and hard battle against marketing gimmicks that he felt would 'cheapen' the strip. He successfully won a battle to prevent Calvin and Hobbes images from getting pasted on commercially-sold coffee mugs, stickers and t-shirts, that he thought devalued the characters and their personalities. He has also refused to allow the strip to become an animated series. Its popularity continues to grow however, and the strip collections published since have been tremendous successes, and calvin and hobbes continues to be as popular as it was exactly ten years ago ... Watterson certainly did know a thing or two about going out on top ...

Since the Calvin and Hobbes strip concluded, Bill Watterson has been living in relative seclusion in Chagrin Falls, OH with his wife Melissa, Watterson refuses to sign autographs or give interviews, emerging only occasionally into the public eye. On December 21, 1999, a short piece called "Drawn Into a Dark But Gentle World," written by Watterson to mark the forthcoming end of the comic strip Peanuts, was published in the Los Angeles Times. They have been seen sometimes roller skating at the rink in Chagrin Falls. [info from wikipedia]. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hell Freezes Over

"For the record, we never broke up, we just took a 14 year vacation"

That's what Glen Frey says during the Eagles masterpiece 'Hell Freezes Over' (1994), recorded live during their reunion (following a breakup of the band in 1980). Ofcourse, the album is so named because of Don Henley's comment that they would only get together when 'Hell Freezes Over'. I have heard the album so many times, and I still can't get enough of it. So when I saw the DVD of the album at the local public library, I had to pick it up and check it out. It was just awesome, and I have just not had enough of it! I now like the album a lot more than before.

The sound quality is awesome, and watching the orchestration and music arrangements, I now have an even better appreciation of some of the intricacies of the sounds on the CD. The first 15 minutes or so includes interviews with the band. The arrangement of songs is different from that on the CD - but thats no problem ... it is a masterpiece this album. And Don Henley, Glen Frey, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmit are simply great in their musical parts. Don Felder and Joe Walsh are superb on the guitars and mandolin. All 4 vocalists (Henley, Frey, Walsh and Schmit) have very distinctive voices, and my favorite of those is Frey. Its probably because of the tracks he sings - esp 'Tequila Sunrise', and 'Take it Easy'. Watching a bunch of middle aged musicians perform in a laidback casual atmosphere is a lot more suited to my music tastes than a bunch of hyperactive rockers jumping all over the place ... and ofcourse, it fits with the persona of the music that The Eagles bring forth.

The album is a timeless classic, and the 100 minute run time alongwith the awesome sound quality makes it even better. The song list is as follows:
"Hotel California"
"Tequila Sunrise"
"Help Me Through the Night"
"The Heart of the Matter"
"Love Will Keep Us Alive"
"Learn to be Still"
"Pretty Maids All on a Row"
"The Girl from Yesterday"
"Wasted Time"
"I Can't Tell You Why"
"New York Minute"
"The Last Resort"
"Take it Easy"
"Life in the Fast Lane"
"In the City"
"Get Over It"

A must watch in my opinion ....

Back in action ....

Its been a long long time since I blogged about anything .... I will start soon....

Monday, September 12, 2005

Heroes ...

Despite the magnificent Warne,
Whose travails were immense but forlorn,
The brave men of Ponting,
Were sadly found wanting,
And now their prized Ashes are gawn ...
- BBC Sport Fan Reaction page

Image from Cricinfo

The Aussie juggernaut came to a screeching halt, as they lost the Ashes - and England have finally regained the Ashes have 18 long years! The same feelings are being evoked the world over, that spurted forth in 2000 when the Aussie win machine with 16 back to back test wins faltered in that unbelievable test match in Calcutta. It wasn't as dramatic, but exciting I'm sure it was. Shane Warne did his best to give the Aussies a chance, but Kevin Pieterson wouldn't have any of it ... and McGrath's arrogant 5-0 prediction remained exactly what it was - a slice of arrogant Aussie humble pie ... congratulations England ... and hats off the Aussies who came back time and again ... and went down fighting ... like true champions

Monday, September 05, 2005

Permission denied ....

The 20th anniversary of Independence Rock (Mumbai's annual monsoon rock music concert series) turned out be a dud this past weekend following the refusal of permission by Mumbai Police Commissioner AN Roy to allow rock music at the Gateway of India.

Indy Rock took me back to the good ol' college days in Mumbai - it used to be an open air event at the Rang Bhavan near Metro cinema in Mumbai. I still remember standing in the rain enjoying Parikrama thorougly entertain the crowd while playing timeless classics from The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and ofcourse Pink Floyd. I still remember their version of 'Another Brick in the Wall' accompanied by a great pyrotechniques display. While I don't know for sure whether Roy was justified in allowing a loud concert at a protected monument (the Gateway of India), my heart certainly goes out to those who were there to listen to the music, and to the budding artists belonging to 17 bands from all over India who were going to perform there.

More news coverage Indian Express Mumbai and Pune editions.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

a hit or miss girl ...

Sania Mirza just finished her first exposure to the big center stage - playing #1 Maria Sharapova in front of a packed holiday crowd at Arthur Ashe stadium. Everyone kind of expected the outcome, but it turned out to be a blowout 6/2, 6/1 ... a rather disappointing finish .. turned out to be a dud!

a hit or miss girl ...
a trigger happy type of player ...
terrific racket speed ...
she definitely has to work on her second serve ...
hard hitting ...
streaky ...
only 76mph on her second serve ...
an 82mph first serve ...
has tremendous ball-striking ability, but a lot needed in just about every other department.
sania has all the building blocks in place, but lots of work to be done.
both are still 18, maria hits hard too - but has got great fitness, footwork, and sets up the point great

these were just some of the comments about sania during the match from mary carillo, john mcenroe and dick enberg on CBS. this was my first opportunity to watch a full match of sania mirza and i must say i was sort of disappointed (the hype had raised my expectations too much i think!) ... she moved sluggishly, was seriously trigger-happy and relies far too much on trying to blast the ball through. but she is quite young, and inexperienced and hopefully her coaches will help reign in some of the zealousness for some focused aggression. ofcourse i am merely an amateur USTA league tennis player ... and its just my opinion. looking forward to more success for sania on the WTA circuit.

[Added later] I was just watching the Serena v/s Venus Williams game, and started to wonder if Sania Mirza was really ready for the top yet .... the difference in consistency and shot selection is just dramatic - its a long road for Sania, hopefully she will make rapid strides ... she has won the juniors event at wimbledon, and her overall result at the US Open is heartening. a top 50 ranking will allow her an automatic entry to a lot more tournaments, allowing her to build her skills and match up against the top players in women's tennis ...

i think its time i used my USTA membership to get discounts on US Open tickets ... maybe next year!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Its finally here ....

Its the first Saturday of September, and that means that the college football season is finally underway ..... ending the painful and seemingly unending drudgery of regular season baseball on sports TV. And even on the first weekend, there are some interesting games to look forward to:

Pitt v/s Notre Dame: ex-NFL coaches Wannastedt and Weis try to restore their alma maters to football glory. this would be the best time to kick the irish out of championship contention. the games to win for pitt are this one, and against louisville (which has moved thisyear to the big east) ... go pitt!!!

Miami v/s Florida State: easily promises to be the best game this weekend. much as i dislike that team, i think this is the year Miami makes a comeback after two relatively disappointing years for the 'canes. And ofcourse, they always manage to bring the highly overrated (atleast in recent years) Florida State teams to their knees. Since the addition of VaTech and Miami last year, FSU's domination of the ACC has pretty much come to an end.

TCU v/s Oklahoma: actually this would have been a totally useless one, but for the fact that this game concluded with TCU upsetting the Sooners earlier today!!

VaTech v/s NC State: Marcus Vick makes his first start for VaTech - highly overrated IMO. Gets the attention simply because of the awesome skills of older bro Michael. I think this will be the year Marcus Vick goes bust ... or blossoms into a great option QB under Beamer.

Boise State at Georgia: The high octane Boise State offense comes to Athens to get real recognition for their program. But a lack of any credible defense will mean that they might come short.

either way ... looking forward to an exciting season of football. the NFL season opens Thursday with the Patriots taking on the Oakland Raiders featuring the first silver and black start for Randy Moss

Thursday, September 01, 2005

failure googled ...

A Google search for 'failure' - check out the first link that shows up! the second link is interesting too ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The fury of nature unleashed ...

Last month was Mumbai flooding, and now its New Orleans reeling under the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. Similarities can be drawn of course between the two situations - the main one being those of big coastal cities hit hard by heavy rain.

The big difference though is that in Mumbai, the water will recede once the rain stops. In New Orleans, its the opposite. The natural tendency is to flood the city since its below sea level, and once the levees breached and the water started to unload into the city, the crisis seems to be spiralling out of control. Governor Kathleen Blanco has officially ordered the city to be completely emptied out. It seems like the only way out of this (I am using my own logic here, may be completely off) seems to be to completely pump out the water from the city OR reclaim all the land flooded by the city. The other alternative (I'm getting big time into doomsday theories) might be to just lose the city. I'm sure that alternative is not an alternative, no one believes it will come to that. But here is certainly one case where even after the storm has passed, the nightmare has only begun.

Image taken from Yahoo News

But things are looking pretty bad from what media reports are saying. The problems associated with disease due to contaminated drinking water, debris, and other hazards are starting to become really grave. For those left behind in the SuperDome, life is getting really miserable. And it maybe a while before things return to normal ... same goes for places like Gulfport and Biloxi in Mississippi. There are several ways to help out - your local TV and radio stations must be broadcasting places to give contributions - monetary or in the form of food, blankets, clothes etc. If not, there is always the American Red Cross - every little bit helps. Hopefully, things will get better really soon ...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Operation Red Flag

Watched the Imax movie 'Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag' today - its about a massive air warfare training exercise - the final tune-up training for pilots and their crews before being sent into actual combat. Presented by Boeing (one of the main sponsors of the movie), Fighter Pilot showcases all aspects of modern air warfare - including fighter aircraft, ammunition, airborne command and control (AWACS), dog fighting, search and rescue, as well as aircraft maintenance - giving a thorough overview of the people behind the scenes who allow the pilot to do his job well.

Like all Imax movies, this one comes loaded with some specatcular imagery (check out the 'making of' video clip on the movie website) and makes Top Gun look rather ordinary. In fact, the air sequences were shot by the same guy who worked on Top Gun. Unbelievable shots, and seeing it on an imax dome makes you feel as if you are in the air with the pilot. i wish the indian air force would come up with something like this - doesn't have to be in imax, just a small regular documentary ... to let the people know 'they are in good hands'. Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag certainly manages that. Definitely worth a watch ....

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hell has its standards

Hell has its standards

Billboard in downtown Auckland (courtesy Atanu).

Anecdote of the day:
Just this past weekend, David Lange, the former prime minister of NZ, passed away at the age of 63. His wit was legendary. He is supposed to have told the US Ambassador H. Monroe Browne, who owned a racehorse called Lacka Reason: “You are the only ambassador in the world to race a horse named after your country’s foreign policy.”
(Original post: Even Hell has its Standards)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Wide world of sports

Photo from Yahoo News

Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron of the NY Mets were involved in a horrific head to head collision in the outfield against the San Diego Padres. Both of them, running in at full speed to catch a fly ball off David Ross of the Padres were completely oblivious to the other's presence and dived full length for the ball. The resulting head-on collision stunned the crowd, and considering the impact, both players were lucky to get off lightly. Cameron had to be taken off the field on a stretcher with a broken nose, multiple fractures of both cheekbones and a slight concussion while Beltran suffered a sore left shoulder and a cut near his left temple.

Helmet to helmet hits in football are illegal for a reason, and Cameron and Beltran's head to head (without a helmet) impact certainly showed why!

Image from the BBC

Shane Warne in the meantime has crossed 600 test wickets - an unbelievable feat. Call him what you like, he can lay claim to be the greatest test bowler of our times. From an eminently forgettable debut (1/150) against India in the 1991-92 series at Sydney, Shane Warne has come a long way through suspensions, drug bans, phone sex scandals and more to keep coming back. Unlike some other premier wicket takers today, he has a clean action, and a great cricketing brain. Not to mention some stellar captains to lead the teams he has played on. Indians will always be quick to point out that his record against India, particularly in India (on spinning wickets) has been mediocre. But that cannot in any way undermine his achievement. There was a time when Kapil Dev's 432 really seemed incredible, but 600 is flat out awesome!! In just 14 years (one year of which was a 1 year ban!) !! And it was awesome enough that Sportscenter actually included his 600th wicket among top 10 plays of the day (at #8)!! In a country where a majority of viewers have no clue about the sport, making it to the top 10 plays certainly was an achievement .... !!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mumbai's plight

It seems this SMS is doing the rounds currently in Mumbai:

"Thank you BMC, Thank U CM,
So what if you did not convert Mumbai into Shanghai.
U did one step better by converting Mumbai into Venice"

Image from Mid-Day (thanks to SBR for the info)

Monday, August 01, 2005

One for the anti-microsoft lobby

Microsoft Corporation's new product verification system, lauched last week, guess not everyone bought into it ....
(via Kabira speaking)

And as for Vista, Microsoft's newest OS on the block, the joke floating around the internet is that Vista stands for Viruses, Infections, Spyware, Trojans, and Adware (via Computer Knowledge). Other options are:
Alternatives include:
* Viruses, Insecurity, Spyware, Trojans and Adware
* Viruses Installed Spyware Trusted Again
* Virtually Inscrutable System To Administrate
* Virtually Impossible System To Administrate
* Very Insecure Systems To Access
* Various Insiders Say: Throw Away

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Check out Logogle: a Google-style Logo Maker. It even recreates a Google-type start page with your logo (i.e. containing whatever text you want!!). Here is the screenshot. You can access the TP logoglized page here.

And to compare it with the actual google page ... ain't it cool!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Horrors ... the day after

The rains seem to have moved on from Mumbai ... but left behind a terrible tale of destruction. In addition to the loss of human life, the rains have also resulted in a tremendous loss of lifestock... mostly buffaloes in tabelas (cowsheds), who could have gotten away and survived if it had not been for the fact that they were tied up, and died a horrific death. The carcasses now left behind pose serious health risks and hopefully damage from those can be mitigated.

Here are some of the horror stories, documented and shown to the world by intrepid Mumbaikars:

Image from Rediff

More images - check Ashish Panchal's website

And all the senseless SlimesOfIndia could think about was how some folks were perturbed at not having their morning sleaze with their lemon tea. And what an achievement it was that Sachin Tendulkar got his paper on time, and didn't have to face the inconvenience!!

Brain Damage ....

I think 'The Dark Side of the Moon' is overrated compared to other Pink Floyd albums, and 'Brain Damage' is certainly one greatly underrated track .... the laughter in the track is certainly creepy ... seems to definitely suggest brain damage. And speaking of Floyd, they were back earlier this month for a reunion performance at the Live 8 concert series, and a big thanks to AOL for providing free broadband video coverage, via Balaji). No Syd Barett ofcourse, but Roger Waters was back with Gilmore again, and they played Comfortably Numb, Money, Breathe and Wish you were here - certainly among among my favorite Floyd tracks. I saw the broadcast, and it was certainly great ... Pink Floyd can certainly recreate the magic again!

Brain Damage (Roger Waters)
The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

"I can't think of anything to say except...
I think it's marvelous! HaHaHa!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

the day it poured ...

Grant Road Station
Originally uploaded by GreyArea.

37 inches of rainfall in a day ... bombay's infrastructure just could not hold up against that kind of onslaught!

this day ... the only things moving on the railway tracks were the flood waters, and people trying to walk home after trains came to a complete standstill

Rain rain go away ....

Dadar Station is unrecognizable as the flood waters continued to rise
(Image taken from

Incessant rains have lashed Mumbai for two days now, and created record rainfall levels for the whole country - more than 37 inches in some parts!! Move over Cherapunji, Mumbai has arrived to rewrite the record books, although in this case - Mumbaikars would be glad not to be the record holders. Almost 100 people are feared dead and millions of city residents badly affected. Thousands were left stranded all over the city as train services were shut down, buses came to a halt, airport closed, and power lines down. Mobile phone networks were overloaded and the army was called in for rescue and relief efforts. Yet, as always they could not hold down the spirits of the Mumbaikars, who have a way of getting over the adversity (sometimes merely shrugging it aside and getting on with it) ... and ofcourse there are always heroes, and a good deed needs to be told about to inspire more ...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Space week

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) was the first US astronaut in space, and mission commander of the Apollo 14 moon landing team. He even played golf on the moon using a converted soil sampler as his club! Alan Shephard holds a small but significant place in the days of my life ... I drive every morning to work on Admiral Alan B. Shephard highway, and watch the Apollo moon rocket stand majestically across from our company offices, along with the Space Shuttle Pathfinder.

I should call these past 7 days or so as space week - the Space Shuttle return to flight was put off due to technical snags, the world celebrated 26 years of Neil Armstrong's moon landing, I had a visit to NASA's John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and now its the anniversary of Alan Shephard's death. Not to mention, like every day of the week, I had my usual ride along the Alan Shephard highway ....

Strange coincidences all over I suppose .... !
p.s. the Space Shuttle Discovery is finally underway (Jul 26) .... hopefully it will be back safely too!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Nature red in tooth and claw ...

"Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life; . . .

So careful of the type?" but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, "A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing, all shall go.

"Thou makest thine appeal to me:
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more." And he, shall he,

Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law --
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed --

Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,
Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal'd within the iron hills?

No more? A monster then, a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match'd with him.

O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil."

-from parts LV and LVI, "In Memorium: A. H. H.", Alfred Tennyson, 1850.

Nature is not kind, but rather cruel in its workings ..... Watterson could not have said it better:

Here is another C&H masterpiece:

Sunday, July 17, 2005

some more on transport phenomena ...

i have been at work working all day on saturday and sunday (not to mention 3 all nighters the previous week). Surely there has to be more to life than staring at Monsieurs Navier and Stokes all day. So I decide to take a break and reply to Mustang's comment about Transport Phenomena (ofcourse!! i am reaching new heights in geekiness). It started to get longer and longer and longer, so I decided to write a post about it:

Mustang: My situation is not much better than yours - I bought BSL simply because I got too much grief from colleagues about not having my own copy! Navier-Stokes equations continue to be an enigma, and as I realize that I have been making a livelihood of those doods for so long now, I am reminded of a song from The Sound of Music ...

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somwhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth


Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

That seems to be the story of my association with N-S - there is no other explanation for me having survived thus far with transport phenomena ... and enjoyed it too!!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Why Transport Phenomena

In response to Manjusha's comment:

Why Transport Phenomena: Its the geekiest reason of them all ... transport phenomena comprises the various mechanisms by which particles or quantities move from one place to another. [Source: Wikipedia]. in my geeky world, it happens to be a very significant part of my engineering curriculum - both as an undergraduate and graduate student, and forms the basis of earning my livelihood :)

the Navier-Stokes equations is a set of PDEs that describe momentum transport (i.e. flow behavior) of fluids such as liquids and gases. The numerical solution of these equations is known as Computational Fluid Dynamics. The existence and smoothness of the N-S equations is one of the seven open problems in the Millenium challenge by the Clay Mathematics Institute (each prize worth $1M!). Here is the official problem statement.

i happened to have a copy of Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot's Transport Phenomena, the great text on the subject lying on my desk when i started this blog ... for lack of any more imagination on my part, this is the name the blog ended up with!! [Ref: R. Byron Bird, Warren E. Stewart, Edwin N. Lightfoot, Transport Phenomena (1960) John Wiley & Sons, New York]

such geekiness ...... !!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Harbinger of the seasons?

Storm Crow : Clicked by Pandiyan.

Lately, I have gotten into the habit of checking out photos on flickr. there is an unbelievable treasure of spectacular photographs taken by amateur photographers from all over the world. and the format and design of the flickr website allows for some smooth browsing and navigation. i have quickly become a big fan of this site.

there is also a great number of indian photgraphers showcasing their accomplishments. this includes a sizeable number based in india - allowing us to see some great sights from india, its cities and villages and forests.

the present photo taken by pandiyan is one of those masterpieces. its a superb shot ... i cannot help but quote the late harivansh rai bachchan:

मैं ऊँचे अग्यात गगन की सुनता हूँ अनिवार पुकार
अंदर से कोई कहता है, उड जा उडता जा पर मार

the poem is about a young bird (from its eyes) as it grows up in a nest before getting out to fly on its own. the translation of those lines is somehting like this:
i hear the cry of the high unknown sky ... and a voice inside me says,'flap your wings, and fly away

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The monsoon ....

Lone tree on Torana fort (Picture taken by mvramesh)

Its been a long time since i posted anything, things are extremely busy at my end. the book meme is still on my list to blog about ...

and in the meantime, the monsoon seems to be in full swing in india - and the western ghats are the ultimate place to be! the clouds descend upon the mountains, and the heavy rainfall leads to some incredible greenery and superb waterfalls - perfect for some monsoon trekking!

here is a picture by my friend ramesh ... who seems to have had a great time as he trekked alone at torna fort last weekend near pune. i would have loved to be there ... drinking a steaming hot cup of chai! reminds me of these lines of a song from milind ingle's गारवा
झाडावरून पक्षी सारे उडून गेले
जेव्हा भिजून गेले, पंखात नाद त्यांच्या हळूवार पावलांचा

Monday, June 27, 2005

MIT Weblog Survey

Take the MIT Weblog Survey:
Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A dark day ...

Its the 30th anniversary of the declaration of a State of Emergency in India by the Indira Gandhi government. The nineteen month long emergency was one of the darkest periods in the history of independent India, with flagrant violation of human rights. Indira had opposition leaders arrested, and curfews imposed on the press. State legislatures were dissolved in states where the rival parties were in power, and a series of harsh bills and constitutional amendments through parliament, all which were approved with little discussion or debate. When Indira Gandhi called elections in 1977, she faced the wrath of the people who voted her out with overwhelming numbers. We can only hope that the political leadership will be more responsible in the future and not let us see these blatant misuses of power in the future.

Mr. Forward short leg passes on ...

Eknath Solkar (1948-2005)
Image from Rediff

Eknath Solkar, one of India's greatest close-in fielders died yesterday in Mumbai. Solkar played 27 test matches for India from 1969-77 and was one of the key reasons for the success of India's spin quartet in the 70s.

Image from Rediff
His key catch to dismiss Alan Knott off Venkatraghavan was an important turning point in India's first major win over England in 1971 at The Oval.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Some funny blog posts

Some funny posts from the Indian blogosphere:

Saket Vaidya's plan to make a collection of pictures of indian women (from mumbai to be precise) in their daily lives for good wholesome family entertainment! (that last one cracked me up ...)

Chanakya's letter to the Pakistani people - its too funny, this part in particular: "You guys should see the number of foreigners patiently standing in line (even when there is none!) applying for drivers licenses in Bangalore and Pune. Some foreigners are even standing in line to become our next Prime Minister. "

The Indian blogosphere seems to be getting more and more interesting and enjoyable every day. Every day leads to the discovery of more and more good quality content!

Book Tag

As part of the book tag doing the rounds of the Indian blogosphere, I have been tagged by Ashwini. And she certainly has a swell book collection! She doesn't seem to have or like Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey, not yet anyway - but I bet by the time she is six, Parag will have to read to her 4 nights a week!!

I couldn't find any of the Hamster Huey strips, but here is another one - every parent's worst nightmare!

In the meantime, I will put out my book list soon ...

The Hand of God - June 22, 1986

Amul had a superb topical when Diego Maradona was taking the world by storm.

Image from Amul

Maradona spearheaded Argentina to victory in the 1986 Soccer World Cup in Mexico. A key step in that journey to that title was The Hand of God - Maradona's goal against England in the quarter finals, exactly 19 years ago on this day. Clearly, Maradona had stuck out his forearm and pushed the ball into the goal. The pictures say all the story:

Image taken from Yahoo's 2002 FIFA World Cup website

Much to the dismay of the English fans and players, the goal was allowed and a second brilliant goal (and i mean spectacular, no wonder it was voted Goal of the Century!) sealed England's fate. Maradona at that time did not admit it - he said that the goal was scored "a little bit by the Hand of God, another bit by the head of Maradona". He did admit using his hand in his autobiography published in 2002. When England beat Argentina in the 2002 World Cup, there came out tshirts reading Look no hands!

No denying Maradona's greatness as a soccer player, but the Hand of God certainly tarnished his image forever - for having 'cheated' on the greatest stage in the world. After all, everything is fair in love, war and the greatest prize in soccer, the Jules Rimet trophy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The flag

i often check the wikipedia (on most weekdays anways) about significant events, births and deaths of the day. its a source of some really cool information. here is something about today (june 21):

among other things, today is the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere (summer solstice) and the longest night for those in the southern hemisphere.

but an interesting event that took place on this day in 1989 was the decsion of the US Supreme Court in a case known as Texas v/s Johnson. Greg Johnson had burnt the US flag at the Republican National Convention in Dallas (1984), and had subsequently been convicted for desecrating a venerated object in violation of a Texas statute. The US Supreme Court however, overturned it citing "... Johnson's burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment", the First Amendment ofcourse referring to the freedom of speech (and expression??) according to the US constitution. the decision did cause a lot of outrage amongst the public, but it has stood the test of time (so far!). there are some laws against misuse though - According to the US flag code,
# No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform"
# The flag "should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper.

what does all this really mean to all of us here? on the face of it, nothing really. but the question that intrigued me was that i am actually quite ignorant about any laws related to all this in india. i tried briefly to look on the web for laws in the indian constitution that prohibit the desecration of the indian national flag or even burning of the same. suffices to say that i didnt find any (i didnt look too hard though, im sure thereis something on the web!). but would we consider that someone burning the indian flag was actually 'expressing himself'? personally i dont think so ... the national flag is a symbol of the nation, and if you dont like the way it is - find some other nation or get parliament to change the law and get one you want ... but till then , the tricolor it is and no one's got the right to mess around with it.

as i write this, i recall that they sometimes show flag burning in movies (in roja, for example). but i also recall someone telling me that they do not actually use a 'real flag' - its a fake flag (i.e. something is inaccurate about it, such as the ashok chakra is missing, or the colors are inaccurate or something) so that they are not really showing the flag burning. which probably means that there are laws in india prohibiting the smae. any info on the same would be quite welcome.

UPDATE - someone (YB) did point me out to the Indian Flag Code which is quite restrictive about what one can get away with as regards the indian flag. certainly no chance of being able to burn it and gettign away by calling it freedom of speech and expression.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Guilty before trial ...

The Slimes of India has already passed judgement on Greg Chappell - pronounced that he will be a failure as coach even before the team has had a single match with him at the helm. Here is my answer to the SoI:

He is being paid more than any previous coach in the history of cricket - and its for a reason. The Indian team is a bunch of super-talented stars, there is politics at the BCCI, the media scrutiny etc - all these are just some of the difficulties any coach hired to lead the Indian cricket team is going to face. By saying that Greg will fail simply because of his aggressive mindset and lead from the front mentality is ridiculous. C'mon Slimeys, atleast give the guy an oportunity to prove himself before you bring him down. And if a coach is going to fail simply because the moutain of difficulties faced is unsurmountable, then should we conclude that the Indian team is so badly star crossed that its never going to make it to the top? John Wright was in the same boat, he faced the same hurdles - ok, he had a very different style from Greggo, prefering to be the invisible hand guiding the team. But the fact remains that he did have some stellar successes to his name, braving the same odds that the SoI rants about.

Again, all that we're sayin .. is give Greg a chance!

At the very least, give the name of the person(s) who put this piece together, so that I can address these comments at him (or her or them).

Friday, June 10, 2005

Jedi Master

The latest craze in San Antonio:
Obi-Wan Ginobili - May the force be with Manu!

And the way Manu Ginobili is playing, he is certainly looking like a Jedi Master. Last night's fourth quarter was just too much of the force. If this keeps up, Detroit better start planning for next season pretty quickly.

The picture above is pretty cool - obviously merged from these two pictures - Manu and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Nice work hobbes !

Flashback ....

I was reading Flashback on Mustang's blog when I was suddenly reminded of the fact that i appeared for the GATE several years ago - well why would Mustang remind me of the GATE? Because there is an anecdote to go with it, with him being a part of it:

I wanted to appear for the GATE, but was late (as usual) and it was the last day for getting the forms. The forms were available from SBI branches, but all branches stopped issuing them a day before the last date. The only place where it was now available was the SBI branch at Andheri. So one of Mustang's classmates (Rohan) went all the way to Andheri to get me the form since I had labs that day and could not leave. And the next day, Mustang went all the way to IITB campus the next day (it was the last day to submit the form) and submitted my form for me!!

I remember going and appearing for the exam simply because both of them had taken all the trouble to get me registered for the exam - although I landed at the exam center without any preparation whatsoever!! and i also recollect that whenthe GATE results came out, that if i managed what i did without any effort, perhaps a little bit of preparation would have landed me with a great score, and possibly a completely different course of action after graduation!!! Ofcourse that was not to be .... and the GATE became just another anecdote! Yet, thanks to Mustang and Rohan for running across Bombay to help me out at that time ...

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter
John Keats

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ridiculous .... India's five-year-old policeman

It happens only in India
The Indian system allows a family member to take the post of a government employee who dies while in service - irrespective of age, and families needing the money will have to do it too. 5 year old Saurabh Nagvanshi goes to a police station and school on alternate days - the former to take his place instead of his father, and earn Rs. 2500/month to feed a family of 5 and his mother.

While its easy to condemn the system for exploiting children thus, its not quite straightforward to find another way to find a livelihood for the family when the only earning member dies. Part of the responsibility rests with the government - they have to provide adequate pension support to the widow so that she has the means to take care of the situation. But offering the same job to the kid, and making him do it irrespective of the age is nonsense. Bureaucracy at its finest ....

Friedman on Bangalore

Thomas Friedman had another column yesterday in the NY Times dedicated to Bangalore, titled Bangalore: Hot and Hotter. Salient points Friedman makes include a comparison between India and China, where he describes China as a smooth 6 line highway witha major speed breaker representing the communist leadership. On the other hand, India is a rickety bumpy pothole filled small street, but with tremendous promise to break out into the biggest and best highway of them all. Promise - thats what India certainly represents.

But he goes on to say that inspite of all the issues associated with India, Bangalore is moving on from being cyber coolies to providing a R&D hub for multinational companies. It is starting to provide complete backend support for anyone with a great idea. Ofcourse, with the talent flowing back into INdia, perhaps the day is not far when 'ideation' (as Friedman calls it) also firmly entrenches there. Also contributing is the fact that many smart folks from all over the world want to work for Bangalore giants like Infosys ...

Americans are warned - you better notice what Bangalore is becoming, and act ... China certainly is. Why else would the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visit Bangalore first and New Delhi later? There seems to be no doubt at all that next time a US President visits India, Bangalore will be a destination. Bangalore - on the other hand, start getting your airport ready for Air Force One to land!

Friedman's liberal columns (often heavily focusing on outsourcing mecca India) are very popular with Indian readers of the NY Times. But I wonder how Americans react to them - for the liberal NY Times reader, they are well accepted as a way of life in the new world, but for those with a little stronger views against outsourcing, they might be serious eye-openers and might certainly up the ante of public opinion against India in the US ...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

here's to you, Mrs. Robinson ...

Yesterday (June 7):
Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award winner Anne Bancroft died yesterday of cancer. She is ofcourse most famous for playing Mrs. Robinsion, who seduces Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.

As NPR puts it, "her seduction of Dustin Hoffman was sexy funny and sad all at once -- and the scene has left an indelible mark on popular culture".

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know
Wo wo wo
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson,
Heaven holds a place for those who pray ...

The song seems to have a whole different meaning right now ...!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blog connections ...

Its funny how connections are made, and blogs help out ... here is a small anecdote:

A few days ago, I surfed my way through various photoblogs - not sure of the trail, but i am pretty sure started with a blog i regularly visit. As I surfed, I landed on Patina's Boondocks Photo Blog. In particular, I liked a picture of a boat abandoned on the shore off the Sea of Cortez. I was wondering where I had heard of the Sea of Cortez before, when I remembered that John Steinbeck (of the Grapes of Wrath fame) sailed there in 1940 on an expedition that led to several discoveries in marine biology. I had infact blogged about the Steinbeck expedition when NPR featured it as part of their Radio Expeditions series. I pointed Patina to that link, and sure enough - she had not heard about it, and was quite delighted to learn about the recreation of the original voyage. To quote her,

"I read the article via your link. wow, that was amazing. i had not heard about the Steinbeck expedition reinactment. great information. i will pass it along to the marine biologists that i traveled with to Baja. we spent a couple of weeks on the Sea of Cortez, ate delicacies provided by the sea, and saw lots of marine curiosities."

Its a cool feeling when something like this happens. Makes blogging worth it ... glad to be of help Patina.

I will leave with a picture of the Gus-D, the 1972 wooden hulled shrimp trawler used by the expedition to recreate the feel of Steinbeck and Ricketts' original adventure.

Image courtesy National Public Radio

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Flickr is an online photo management system - allows you to store photos, share them, as well as publish directly to blogs from their website. When i first started my photoblog, i looked at flickr as an option to Hello. Did not really like it then ... wasn't too impressed. Then along came Google's Picassa photo management system, and it was smooth, together with picassa and hello working so nicely with blogger!

however i have been 're-evaluating' flickr these past 2-3 months, especially news was out that Yahoo bought Flickr. That meant two things - one was that Flickr probably had something I had missed, they wouldnt spend so much cash buying them out, or that Flickr had gotten much better since I last used it. And guess what, both of them probably, certainly the latter!! flickr certainly rocks. The interface is elegant and clean. Having a photo management system online is no mean task, and the standards set by desktop clients are very high, especially since the advent of Picassa. But Flickr has really set the bar very high for web based photo management - it is after all sooooooo much better than current websites such as yahoo! photos or sony's imagestation. Flickr's blog says:
Are you going to become Yahoo Photos?
No. Yahoo Photos will get a lot of Flickr features, and there are alot of other areas around Yahoo that will also be Flickrized where Flickrization would be good. Yahoo Photos and Flickr have different kinds of users with different needs, and will remain separate for the foreseeable future. Flickr would also suffer from a sudden deluge of LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! omg! so we're going to grow it carefully.
And the public seems to have caught on to it big time. and imean big time .... Flickr just received its 17 millionth photograph [via Amit Karmakar]!! Its fun to even browse through photo collections of Flickr, the photosets are spectacular, the interface is easy, and for bloggers - its extremely easy to post to your own blog from flickr, whether its powered by blogger or typepad or wordpress or livejournal or movable type! Amit also gives a nice list of things he would like to see on Flickr - this includes faster download times, more useful messages for blogs when flickr is down and the ability for taking backups. things i love about flickr include easy editing and uploading, easy management, easy blogging, tags, ease of searching, and even creative commons licensing and RSS support.

i would certainly encourage everyone to try out flickr. one thing is for certain, yahoo buying flickr has certainly upped the stakes, and i would expect google to follow suit with something as good. and just as with gmail, we the consumers might be the ones who are able to reap the benefits of the yahoo-google tussle! personally, im even considering purchasing their 'pro' account (paid subscription to their services)!

in the meantime, i will leave you with a picture from my flickr page. Its a collage of pictures I took during a visit to Pune earlier this year.

you can access my flickr page here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Smoking Shahrukh ... no more!

I watched Bunty aur Babli last night ... Abhishek Bachchan smokes several times, even shares a beedi with Amitabh in the movie. Heck even Rani Mukherjee had a few puffs in the movie. Today I found out about the Indian government's ban on depiction of smoking in films. The move has certainly angered the Mumbai film industry, which is screaming for withdrawal of the ban. Here are some of the main voices and arguments for and against the ban, from both the govt., bollywood and the blogosphere:

  • 800,000 Indians a year die from smoking-related diseases mainly among men aged between 25 and 69 (source: WHO)
  • "More and more youngsters and women are taking up tobacco use." - Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss - ostensibly by watching their heroes and heroines take a drag.
  • "Film actors have a lasting impact on the minds of children and young adults," said Anbumani Ramadoss, India's health minister.
  • A recent WHO study "held Bollywood responsible for glamorising smoking"
  • ''It is a good move to ban smoking because a lot of young children tend to imitate actors,'' so said Kareena Kapoor, actress.
  • It sure would help to deglamourize smoking among illiterates of India. - Parag
  • The directors and producers are VERY worried - putting health warning on smoking scenes in the hundreds of films under production will essentially kill these films
  • Anti-smoking signs will have to be inserted in large archives of old films and television programmes in all regional languages - almost impossible to finish.
  • ''When the tobacco industry was on the rise, in the thirties and the forties, everyone used to smoke in the films. The hero used to smoke, the villain also used to smoke. But with the awareness that tobacco causes cancer, all that has changed,'' - Shyam Benegal, Director. [This one sounds as if he is supporting the ban, but i dont think he is - more likely that he is trying to say now folks dont glamorize it in movies any more, certainly not enough to influence anyone to smoke]
  • infringes on creative expression,
  • good intentions completely misdirected - its ridiculous to blame films!
  • "One would understand a ban on surrogate advertising, but to completely ban [smoking] is ridiculous, a joke taken too far." - Mahesh Bhatt
  • "The government should go after the source - the guys who produce tobacco and make tons of money."
  • A worrying trend??? "Tomorrow, the government can turn around and say don't show guns in movies as it will encourage violence." - Anupam Kher
  • "We all smoked because of the peer group, not because people in the cinema were smoking." - Shyam Benegal
  • Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray - Kiruba Shankar
  • "I don’t think banning smoking in films is the way to go about it. Because it won’t make a difference in the real sense of the word. People who want to smoke will continue to. Such a decision will only curb the creativity of actors and film-makers." - Amir Khan, actor, via Gaurav Sabnis.
  • So if James Bond is making love to a naked woman who is smoking, just the image of the cigarette will be blurred and that is the way it should be. -Varnam
I personally think the ban is indeed ridiculous [i don't really dispute the WHO's finding, or do i? I did express otherwise on Parag's blog]. Not that I favor smoking, but come on - is there anyone who doesn't know what they are up against? The government certainly has a weird way of trying to look after the people.

To put this in an extreme perspective: democracy is good ... but better authoritarian than libertarian for the good of the people?

War movies ...

Continuing with the previous post on Vietnam movies, let me try and extend the scope to war movies in general. The wars of the world have certainly provided Hollywood with unending inspiration to make films on the topic, and none more so than World War II. Not surprising, considering how dramatically the world changed through the course of that war. Maps were redrawn - even new countries created, and the balance of power was significantly altered. Most important of all were the number of lives lost, and its only fair that Hollywood do its bit to recreate the war on film.

I am trying to list the war movies that I liked (not exhaustive by any means, and in no particular order). Feel free to comment and add movies that you liked or disliked or those that perhaps I should have listed, but missed out on:

All quiet on the Western front - set in WWI, it showcases the tragedy of war through the eyes of young German recruits.

Lawrence of Arabia - an Academy award winning masterpiece set during WWI from David Lean, boasting of superb performances from a very formidable cast: Peter O'Toole, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, and Claude Rains (probably most well known as the French Prefect in Casablanca).

M*A*S*H - set in the Korean war (very few movies based on this war, but MASH was a delight), trying to give a lighter touch in an otherwise exasperating conflict. I love the TV series later produced ... one of my all time favorites. But more on the TV series later, this one's for movies :)

The Bridge on the River Kwai - another David Lean masterpiece, this time with Alec Guiness in the lead. A band of British POWs under the Japanese build a bridge over the Kwai, only to see a that the Allies have slightly different plans for the opening of the bridge.

Schindler's List - voted the best war movie of all time by IMDB voters. Spielberg finally made it to the Academy awards list with this one.

Where Eagle's Dare/Guns of Navarone/Force 10 from Navarone - all 3 are based on novels by Alistair Maclean. I would rank WED ahead of both Navarone novels, and FOrce 10 from Navarone as the worst (by far). While WED not only has a cool plot and a super star cast (Richard Burton and CLint Eastwood as Maj. Smith and Lt. Schaeffer resp) - the filming is also pretty cool, esp the cable car sequences to and from the Schloss Adler in the German Alps. Guns of Navarone also boasts of a superb cast - Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn as Mallory, Dusty Miller and Andreas Stavrous respectively. On the contrary, Force 10 is very mediocre - starring among others Harrison Ford (then quite unknown), Edward Fox (as Dusty Miller, remember him as General Dyer in Gandhi?), Carl Weathers (another newbie -just coming off his major role in Rocky)

The Sea Wolves - an unknown movie about a bunch of retired soldiers leading an attack on German ships in neutral Goa harbor. Stars Gregory Peck, David Niven and Roger Moore, shot almost completely in India.

D-Day movies:
The Longest Day - The elaborate D-Day drama - on an incredibly grand scale. Till Schindler's List came along, it was the highest grossing black and white movie. It resurrected the financial fortunes of Twentieth Century Fox after the disastrous Cleopatra

Saving Private Ryan - the critically acclaimed landing sequence is brutal, the reality of war in all its gory detail.

Casablanca - movies set in the war aren't only about fighting or tragedy. The war provides a splendid backdrop for some of the best movies of all time - Rick's Cafe in Casablanca was certainly the place to be 'as time went by'.

The Great Escape - Steve McQueen leads the escape from a POW camp.

U-571 - an American submarine made to look like a German U-boat in an attempt to recover an Enigma decoding machine. They say it pales in comparison to Das Boot (unfortunately i have not seen the latter to make a comment on that).

The thin red line - a contemporary of Saving Private Ryan - didnt get quite the same attention as the Tom Hanks starrer.

The Pianist - Adrian Brody in his Oscar winning role as Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman. Based on a true story of one of the most accomplished pianists in Poland at that time, this Roman Polanski movie showcases his efforts to survive after the ghetto is destroyed by the Nazis, and the story of his amazing survival through the war. Brody was probably so perfect for that role, that he will always be typecast - may not ever fit smoothly into any other role.

Pearl Harbor movies:
Tora Tora Tora - what's unique about this movie is that it looks at the attack on Pearl Harbor from both Japanese and American points of view, and speaks of events not just during, but also leading up to the battle.

Pearl Harbor - I didnt fancy this movie too much, but the Japanese invasion sequences were great. Certainly worth a watch for that.

From Here to Eternity - Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr as two star crossed lovers in Hawaii against the backdrop of the Japanese attack. Montgomery Clift plays the boxer who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A grossly incomplete list in the end - but if I dont cut it short, i will never finish this post. I will continue to add more as I recall ... feel free to add more of what you prefer/like.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Vietnam movies ...

Since this was the memorial day holiday, lots of chnanels were showing war movies, and vietnam was an obvious focus: saw both Platoon and Apocalypse Now (certainly not for the first time)- probably amongst the best movies made on the vietnam war, by two very talented directors (Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola respectivelY). not quite focused on the raw savagery of war (like say Saving Private Ryan), but trying to look more closely at the war, thepeople who fought the war (atleast from the american side), how they perceived it, and how the war affected them.

Platoon has a lot of young actors who went on to have successful careers later on (William Defoe, Charlie sheen, Johnny Depp ... Tom Berenger doesnt count since he cant quite be called 'successful'). the conflict between Sgt Elias (defoe) and Barnes (berenger) is superbly depicted.

Apocalypse Now stars another Sheen - this time martin sheen as captain willard headed out to cambodia to assasinate renegade colonel kurtz (marlon brando), whois supposed to have gone nuts. also featured in smaller parts are robert duvall, harrison ford, laurence fishburne and dennis hopper. the war has certainly changed kurtz, why is he the way he is ... and the interesting point to note is that even though willard thinks its pretty obvious, he doesnt quite knpw what to do once he finds colonel kurtz.

Both movies are 'Vietnam classics' and boast of a superb score and soundtrack. Platoon's Adagio for strings and Respect by Aretha Franklin are certainly highlights. Apocalypse Now is even better: the movie gets a stunning start with 'The End' by The Doors, with The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and my favorite 'The Ride of the Valkyries' composed by Wagner providing the backdrop to the superbly photographed helicopter assault sequence. Speaking of which, the movie boasts some spectacular visuals ... the river is always there ... providing the backdrop to the chaos and conflict. Both movies are a definite 'MUST-SEE'!

Other Vietnam movies include Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers, etc. The former focuses in the first half on boot camp for draftees ... while the latter is predominantly a masala movie ... not a bad one, but its outcome is predetermined. It focuses on the fighting ....

Vietnam has been a very defining moment in American history. And it has defined Hollywood too ... AMC's (American Movie Classics - the cable movie channel) Hollywood Vietnam is proof of that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CNR Rao - India's science legend

CNR Rao is certainly a legend ... for those even remotely familiar with material science and engineering. He has been actively involved in research for over 50 years, and is probably the single biggest contributor to science in India, since Sir C.V. Raman. Author of over 1200 papers, he currently holds the positions of Linus Pauling Research Professor and Honorary President of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India. In addition, he is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Materials, University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to the innumerable academic achievements, he has also been Chairman of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.

His contributions were recognized earlier this week when he was awarded with the $1M Dan David prize (awarded by the Tel Aviv University) for his oustanding contributions to materials science. What makes it even more sweet is the outstanding company he shares the prize with. MIT's Robert Langer and Harvard's George Whitesides, both of whom have had some incredible scientific achievements, simply too numerous to list. All 3 have contributed immensely to their respective fields and made advances that have changed the scientific landscape. Their academic contributions can be gauged by the number of PhDs graduated - and the successes achieved by their students as well. I have had the honor of listening to Bob Langer and CNR Rao speak to audiences and they are very impressive. I am sure the same can be said of Whitesides too.

According to Rao, "This is the highest prize an Indian scientist has received at least in the last 70 years, since C V Raman’s Nobel". Congratulations to Prof. Rao - certainly a proud moment for all Indians!

Growing up ...

Ever seriously re-thought about growing up?

Bill Watterson rocks!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ed Viesturs - the greatest of them all .....

A couple of months ago, i had mentioned about Ed Viesturs, America's greatest climber today, and his planned attempt at scaling the world's 10th highest (but nearly the most difficult) peak, Annapurna this year. After two previous failed attempts in 2000 and 2002, Ed Viesturs has finally achieved it - achieving it on May 12, along with Veikka Gustafsson of Finland. With that, Viesturs has successfully scaled all the world's peaks over 8000m tall, including 6 visits to the summit of Mount Everest. He has seen the world from heights few can even dream of reaching. After his achievement, he was named as the ABC News Person of the week.

Last week, after overcoming every challenge that a mountain can throw up at him, Ed announced his retirement from high altitude climbing. "I am done with 8,000-meter peaks, ... so now I will get know what spring looks like at my home in Seattle", he says. This picture will give some appreciation of his achievement and the heights he has reached:
1992: Ed Viesturs and Scott Fischer in the Bottleneck Couloir at 27,000ft on K2
[Photo: Charley Mace, taken from]

Friday, May 20, 2005

Newsweek debacle

Some fallout from the Newsweek journalism debacle earlier this week - guess some things cannot be undone :)

via Vinod

Saturday, May 14, 2005

india's nuclear policy ....

i had a post last week - about India completing 7 years as a declared nuclear power. Niket had a compelling point to make:
If the scientists feel we need more tests, we should have more tests. The world be damned.
It essentially comes down to a basic issue: do we need the nukes? we need the deterrent IMO ... and given the world we live in, we should have 'em. if we need to do tests to develop them,
then we must test as many as needed! the big issue about the '98 tests was that they were the 'coming out of the closet' tests!

and while we have a 'no first use' nuclear policy in place: one of the questions that comes to mind based on that is at what point in a conventional conflict does a country like india decide to resort to nukes (God forbid the situation never arises) but it is not a straightforward question to answer. based on the policy as i know it, it will probably mean we will deal with whatever onslaught is launched against us with conventional weapons, and no nukes unless someone strikes against us with a nuke. pakistan on the other hand makes no such claims - according to the pakis, they will not desist from using nukes in a conventional weapons conflict if they feel national interests are threatened. there is a story in 'Yes Prime Minister' called 'The Grand Design' - where PM Hacker tries to implement a unique plan to strengthen conventional forces, based on discussions with his CHief SCientific Advisor - who points out the 'salami tactics' that the Soviets (story dates back to the height of the cold war ofcourse) would use if they decided to invade western europe .... it is pointed out to Hacker (and very rationally to) that the Russians would almost come all the way to the western edge of europe, and there would be no use of nukes by the Brits (ie Hacker, as CEO of the govt!). i suspect a very similar situation is likely to occur in the case of India, they would be perceived as the nuclear power who probably does not have the guts to use em .... while a 'no first use' policy will earn brownie points in world diplomacy, is it the best policy to have in order to safeguard our national interests/?

i believe the indian diplomatic missions in the US have statements of the policy on their website - or atleast thw Indian embassy in washington DC has it on their website. would be worth cheking out in a little more detail this weekend. ofcourse, the policy is made by the so-called experts in public-policy. but how many times have we seen kinks in that armor?i have not seen anyone questioning india's no first use policy and i am not a trigger happy by any stretch of imagination either ..... but i am still not convinced that we should have such a policy. hopefully thee will be some ansers forthcoming

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Anniversaries galore .... Pokhran

In addition to this blog completing a year of existence, today marks the anniversary for a lot of key events in the history of India and the world.

Today is the 7th anniversary of India's coming out into the open about its nuclear weapons program. On this day in 1998, India tested three nuclear devices in underground tests at Pokhran in the Rajasthan desert. A jubilant Prime Minister Vajpayee made the announcement that took the world by complete surprise, and caught the Americans off-guard. Ofcourse, it forced Pakistan to come out into the open with its own nuclear capability. While the nuclear option is a credible deterrent especially for the likes of China, there is debate whether it was worth coming clean with the capability. An article by Sanjoy Majumder of the BBC appeared on this day a couple of years ago on the five year anniversary of the tests. While I am not sure how seriously we are taken after the tests, the article does raise an important point:
Many in India argued that by going nuclear it had lost its conventional military edge over Pakistan.
India has a committment to 'No First Use' of nuclear weapons. Pakistan on the other hand makes no such claims, and infact is not hesitant to play the nuclear card every time a conflict arises - all in the name of self-protection against big brother India with its superiority in conventional weapons. In 2001, when the Indians mobilized for war following the attack on the Parliament, Pakistan was at the forefront in raising the spectre of a nuclear war, since now it is a declared nuclear power. The world was forced to take notice and take frantic steps against the possibility of a nuclear holocaust on the subcontinent.

We all know what happened, but I guess Pakistan's belligerent posing on the basis of its nuclear capability is something India will have to deal with everytime a confrontational situation with Pakistan develops.

1 year ago ....

Its been exactly one year since this blog was started. and 117 posts, and some 10,000 (and change) hits later, i am glad to say i'm still motivated to keep it going. a post every 3 days or so is the average, but the posting frequency fluctuates quite strongly - sometimes with 2-3 posts in a day, and then nothing for 2-3 weeks! need to work on that ....

thanks to prashant mullick and niket kaisare who introduced me to the blogosphere. i have come across hundreds of bloggers who provide for a lot better reading, commentary and op-eds and analysis on a lot of issues, better reading i'd say than most newspapers. the desi blogworld is great, and every new day introduces to more and more quality desi blogs.

glad to be part ofthe blogosphere.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में ....

सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी

बूढे भारत में भी आई फ़िर से नई जवानी थी ।

गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी

दूर फ़िरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी ॥

these are the opening lines of Subhadrakumari Chauhan's epic poem titled 'झाँसी की रानी', not just a biographical sketch on Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, but also a fascinating sketch of the Mutiny of 1857, the first freedom struggle against the British in India. Today marks the 148th anniversary of the day when the sepoys first broke ranks and raised arms against their British commanding officers in Meerut. No surprises therefore that Sepia Mutiny carries this story! Wikipedia has the details on the uprising. The rebellion lasted just longer than a year, and was ofcourse put down by the British. Although the first real movement against the British, it was such a body blow to anyone harboring thoughts of revolt that it was not until the early part of the twentieth century that there was any serious organized effort to dislodge the British, and more than 90 years since the first revolt that these efforts finally culminated.

The Mutiny however has firmly taken its place in Indian history, alongwith the martyrs from that uprising - including Mangal Pandey, Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and Tatya Tope. 2005 will also see the release of The Rising, starring Aamir Khan in his first release since the Dil Chahta Hai and Lagaan in 2001. Based on press coverage so far, it certainly a movie to look forward to. I will leave you with a few more lines from Chauhan's masterpiece, snippets from the Mutiny:

बुझा दीप झाँसी का तब डलहौसी मन में हर्षाया
राज्य हडप करने का उसने यह अच्छा औसर पाया ।
फ़ौरन फ़ौजें भेज दुर्ग पर अपना झंडा फहराया
लावारिस का वारिस बनकर ब्रिटिश राज्य झाँसी आया ॥
[Viceroy Lord Dalhousie's ploy of annexing princely states that did not have an heir, including Jhansi]

महलों ने दी आग, झोंपड़ी ने ज्वाला सुलगाई थी,
यह स्वतंत्रता की चिनगारी अंतरतम से आई थी,
झाँसी चेती, दिल्ली चेती, लखनऊ लपटें छाई थी,
मेरठ, कानपूर, पटना ने भारी धूम मचाई थी,
जबलपूर, कोल्हापूर में भी कुछ हलचल उकसानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
[The mutiny spread rapidly .... and soon enveloped most a lot of princely states, including Delhi]

इनकी गाथा छोड़, चले हम झाँसी के मैदानों में,
जहाँ खड़ी है लक्ष्मीबाई मर्द बनी मर्दानों में,
लेफ्टिनेंट वाकर आ पहुँचा, आगे बड़ा जवानों में,
रानी ने तलवार खींच ली, हुया द्वन्द्ध असमानों में।

ज़ख्मी होकर वाकर भागा, उसे अजब हैरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
[Lakshmibai's victories in the Mutiny]

विजय मिली, पर अंग्रेज़ों की फिर सेना घिर आई थी,
अबके जनरल स्मिथ सम्मुख था, उसने मुहँ की खाई थी,
काना और मंदरा सखियाँ रानी के संग आई थी,
युद्ध श्रेत्र में उन दोनों ने भारी मार मचाई थी।

पर पीछे ह्यूरोज़ आ गया, हाय! घिरी अब रानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
[The English recoup and come chasing her down ... Hugh Rose is leading the charge against her]

रानी गई सिधार चिता अब उसकी दिव्य सवारी थी,
मिला तेज से तेज, तेज की वह सच्ची अधिकारी थी,
अभी उम्र कुल तेइस की थी, मनुज नहीं अवतारी थी,
हमको जीवित करने आयी बन स्वतंत्रता-नारी थी,

दिखा गई पथ, सिखा गई हमको जो सीख सिखानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
[She died valiantly, but showed the way to fight for freedom ... just 23, but the role model for generations to come]

जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
यह तेरा बलिदान जगावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी।

तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
[India will always remember her .... ]

The full poem is available here.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

मराठीत लिहीण्याचा एक प्रयत्न! (an attempt to write in marathi)

Unicode fonts वापरून देवनागरी लिहीण्याचा हा माझा पहिलाच प्रयत्न आहे. त्यामुळे चूक भूल द्यावी घ्यावी! मायबोलीवरील हितगुजचा गेले चार वर्ष सदस्य राहिल्यामुळे मराठीतून लिहीण्याचे नियम नीटपणे माहित आहेत मला. (तसे itrans वापरून देवनागरीत लिहीता येत असेल तरी पुरेसे आहे. जवळजवळ सर्व नियम सारखेच आहेत.) परंतु मराठीतून लिहीण्याची इतकी सवय कधीच झाली नाही की पटापट मराठीतून लिहीता येईल. काही महीन्यांपूर्वी एक प्रयत्न केला होता, पण तो Unicode वापरून नव्हता आणी त्यामुळे ते post सर्व browsers वर नीट दिसायचे नाही. माझी अशी समजूत आहे की unicode मध्ये लिहीलेले मात्र सर्वत्र वाचता येईल. तुम्हाला वाचायला न जमल्यास मला नक्की कळवा.

मराठीतून blog वर कसे post करावे यावर एक छोटीशी टिप्पणी
तसे बरेच जण blogging साठी देवनागरी वापरत आहेत. त्यामुळे ह्यात नवीन किंवा विशेष काहीच नाही. काही जणांकडून सूचना मिळाल्या होत्या. पण पार पाडणे कधीच नीट जमले नाही. कदाचित माझ्याच हातून काहीतरी चुकत असेल. ह्यावेळी मात्र जमले असं वाटतं आहे. ह्यावेळी सल्ला देणारा रोहित नातू. त्याने मला ह्या साईटकडे वळवले : साईटचे नाव आहे baraha. ह्या शब्दाचा कन्नड भाषेत लिखाण असा अर्थ आहे. त्या साईटवरून baraha 6.0 download करा आणी install करा. त्यासोबत येणारी Baraha Direct Utility चा वापर करून एकदम सरळपणे देवनागरीत लिहीता येते. इककेच नाही तर मलयाळम, तेलगू, कन्नड व तामिळ भाषांमध्येही लिहिता येते. Baraha Direct चालू करा, Output format साठी Unicode निवडा आणी हवी ती भाषा निवडून सुरू व्हा. परस्पर microsoft internet explorer किंवा firefox किंवा notepad मध्ये सुद्धा लिहिले की देवनागरीत दिसते. बघा एकदा वापरून, आवडतयं का!
मराठीत लिहायचे नियम हवे असल्यास इकडे टिचकी मारा.

English synopsis of above post for those not familiar with marathi:

Check out Baraha. It seems the word 'baraha' literally means writing in Kannada. Download the Baraha 6.0 utility and install it. Using the Baraha Direct Utility that comes with it, you can directly write in Malayalam, Devanagari, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. This will directly output Unicode text for the selected language. You can even directly type in devanagari (or any of the above languages) in blogger, MS Word, notepad, or even MSN messenger (it does not work with Yahoo messenger, no clue why). F11 will allow you to toggle between typing in English and marathi. For some reason, mozilla (firefox/netscape) does not display the devanagari fonts nicely. IE renders them much better. Ofcourse it is assumed that you have a unicode font installed. For devanagari unicode details, check here

If you are familiar with Itrans, then typing in local Indian languages should be pretty easy - it is phonetically almost exact. Baraha's help has a good overview of the transliteration keyboard mapping. Here is a link to the devanagari rules.

Friday, May 06, 2005

This is ridiculous ....

the indian courts are loony, and if the victim agrees to forgive in exchange for marriage, you would think the victim is loony too ... and the rapist was formally acquitted since he agreed to marry the victim. According to The Hindu,
According to the public prosecutor, just before pronouncing the sentence on Tuesday, the judge asked the girl if she wanted to say anything. The girl said she would forgive 25-year-old Firoz Shaikh provided he married her. Shaikh agreed to this.
I can completely imagine why Niket was so furious about it.

One is tempted to ask the question: Was the victim nuts when she said that, or was it merely social pressure of some sort that coerces the story to move like it did? In this scenario, is the court justified in acquiescing to the request of the victim or are the people justified in taking the prosecution to its proper end, and convict the rapist? there doesnt seem to be any shred of doubt about the crime or who committed it ... then what should be the outcome/? or is it simply dependent on 'victim withdraws the charges, case dropped'? wonder what the legal answer to that is?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Distant Dream

Check out the new band Distant Dream, based out of the Ann Arbor area, who came out with their first album entitled A New Beginning. The website is superb and they have streaming access to all songs. A very good friend, and former classmate from the good ol' days in Bombay, Sujit Srinivas is the lead singer of the band, and also credited guitars, keyboards and arrangements. I think the 5$ price for the CD is a good one to pay - and from what Sujit tells me, it is mainly to cover the cost of production.

I like the music they have produced, and the concept of a story running through all songs is cool - it has been done before, and its no surprise that bands like Pink Floyd and Dream Theater who have done it previously have strongly influenced Distant Dream. Do check the music out, and if you like it, do let them know by getting your own copy!