Sunday, October 22, 2006

The biggest obstacle to Time travel

No, it is not grammar. Nor is it the 'Grandfather paradox'. Really. The biggest obstacle to time travel is the digital watch. After all, how can you turn back the hands of time when they don't exist?

Pseudo logic.

Earlier, I had posted a link to Michael Crichton's criticism of the SETI 'equation'. I came across more such pseudo-logic recently. And on no less than the Discovery channel.
I was watching this programme on Discovery where a 'researcher' is researching the death of Julius Caesar. He wants to know who killed him, and why. No problem with that. But how do you find out how many stab wounds a guy killed over 2000 years ago took without having access to his dead body? And of the 22 senators that are supposed to have plotted to kill him, whose knife dealt the death blow? And this lunatic even goes to the extent to say that not all stab wounds Caesar suffered were fatal. And he wants to do research to find out which ones on earth do you do this!? He performs a 'simulation'. He has 22 guys trying to stab a single person, and apparently when they all tried together, not all the wounds that occurred were fatal! Geez!

This is the kind of thinking that pervades most of Indian life today. I'm subscribed to an orkut community on Calvin and Hobbes, on which someone posted a question wondering what Calvin's star sign was. Here is what is possibly the 'best' answer:

he has to be an guys an Aries...n he is no less than Calvin....n he adores him a gotta be Aries

What astounding logic! Calvin has to be an Aries, because 'her guy' is an Aries and he is adores Calvin. Haven't these people heard of 'evidence'? Or 'scientific enquiry'? (The second question was for the Caesarian idiot.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Online literature

I found this site with some really cool books:

Also, visit the Distributed Proof readers page:

How to become an acclaimed Indian author

After Kiran Desai won the Booker this year, and the resounding success of leading lights like Anita Desai, Arun'dirty' Roy, and Kaavya Vishwanathan, I've been wondering: "What exactly does it take to become an acclaimed Indian author?" Well, here is what you need to do:

- Be of Indian origin. (Well, this one is a no-brainer.) At the least, fake it.

- Immigrate to the US, or to the UK. Or better still, have your parents immigrate when you are hardly speaking

- Write about one of the following topics:
* How your Grandmother was married off at 12
* How your mother (or yourself) was never allowed to date a guy
* How your grandparents arranged your parents' marriage
* How your grandfather always had the last word in everything
* How your grandmother, mother, aunts behaved
* How you never kissed a guy till you reached the US (or the UK)

- Now, praise the US and the UK for being the free societies they are, in which, thanks to the grace of the Lord merciful, you can actually kiss a guy! (Even if you are one!!!)

- Lambast western capitalism. Fly in business class to attend World Social (sic) Forum meetings to rant against the wealthy.

- Wait until the Guardian or the New York Post publishes a review of your work.

Lo and behold, in no time, you'll be one of the grand candidates for the Booker, the Nobel, or what have you.


Have you ever, as a child, slept on the roof of your home? I used to - there was a time when frequent power cuts in my locality during summer nights forced me to do so. Lying still in complete darkness, I used to stare up at the skies and wonder why the stars shone, why they didn't fall on my head, who made the splotches on the moon, whether you could stand on the clouds and a hundred other things. Later, as I learnt more about the solar system (through Flash Gordon comics, Russian magazines and books, and our own "Bala Vijnana"), my fondest dream was space travel.
I always dreamt of being "Scotty Scott" - the chief engineer of Star Trek. I'd be navigating my ship through the open vastness of space, then upon sighting the Milky Way, would swoop down to its outermost spiral, and then fly past Orion, be warmed by Proxima Centauri, and finally, see Pluto, Uranus and Neptune, before wondering at the rings of Saturn, the blazes of Jupiter's red spot, then announce to the crew to be prepared to gun down any asteroid that got too close, and finally, peek beside Mars to see a bluish-white Earth. I'd then announce to the crew that we were nearing home, and I'd then call "Hassan" - where the ISRO Master Control Facility is located, to guide me in, to land at, where else? HAL Airport! I knew then that my ambition in life was to become a space scientist, building FTL (Faster-Than-Light) ships, powered by anti-gravity.
Whew. If you're wondering why I'm delirious, let me say that this is the after-effect of reading Carl Sagan's "Cosmos". An extremely well-written book, Cosmos is a great mix of History, Science, and Philosophy - a most honest attempt to explain the human fascination with the Cosmos. Beyond the science though, Cosmos raises a few relevant questions regarding our fascination with God, our arrogance to imagine life as being mainly carbon-based, the importance of arousing scientific curiosity amongst children and also of the importance of democracy and free thinking in progress. The last point to me was most interesting. Sagan points out that all the societies that reached high levels of scientific sophistication were some form of democracies - ancient Greece, medieval Holland, today's America. While the evidence he supplies is rather sketchy, it is interesting to see that Tom Friedman, in his "The World is Flat" refers to modern India in the same vein. So, is that true? What do you think?
I'll write more about Cosmos and Carl Sagan's other book, Contact in the coming weeks. Oh, and if you haven't seen Star trek, you can see some pix, videos and get an overall picture of the series at: Also,
To know more about Flash Gordon: Click here
To crib about today's comic books: Click here.
To know more about me space fantasises: heh heh. Keep visitin'.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I told you so

Earlier on my blog, I wrote about the idiocy of the Manmoron Govt in opting to support Shashi Tharoor's nomination for UNSG. Well, this week, the expected happened, and in all probability, it was China that expressed a desire to veto his nomination. Well done, Moron!
Moron has a lot to learn from Laloo about international politics. I remember Laloo's immortal words: "I don't want to be king. I want to be king maker!" (Read with a Bihari accent.) In the world of politics (domestic or international), it is the king maker that has more power, not the king. Think Sonia v/s Manmohan, Left v/s UPA, Jayalalitha v/s Vajpayee first edition, Laloo v/s Deve Gowda and Gujral. How can we expect the 'paavum' (Tamil; innocent) economist to realize this!?
So much for listening to the pinkos, reddies, and nammies.

How did I do it!?

Ever since I wrote about my participation in the Bangalore International Marathon, I've been inundated by requests to blog about my preparation for the same. (Ok, actually, there was only one request from my friend Kattricker, but a little bloggetic license never hurt anyone, eh?)
I kind of decided at the beginning of the year (it was actually one of my new-year resolutions) that I should participate in a marathon this year. So, I started practicing - running around 5km/day (actually jogged/walked/ran for 5kms) on weekdays and 11kms on weekends since February of this year. This was on empty stomach, with no fluid intake in-between. Midway, I realized that completing 42kms in 3+ hours was simply not my cup of...well, Gatorade, so I decided to go in for the half-marathon. And I continued this for nearly 4-5 months.
Just before the race though, I had a quiet period because of work pressure, and couldn't keep up the schedule. But anyway, I had to attempt this - I had come too far down the road to give up. (BTW, thanx to a mythical creature who egged me on.) So, the day before the race, I ate well, slept early (as the race was scheduled to begin at 5:30AM, I had to get up real early), and was off. I wouldn't have completed the race if I wasn't paced by my former manager, Venky. He had run in the previous race, and showed me how to pace myself. Another thing we kept in mind was to drink just enough water to keep us going, and not gulp down a litre at each leg of the race.
So, that's it...and BTW, if you folks are under any illusion that this is something great, let me tell you that my average speed of around 6kms/hr, is just above normal walking speed. So, it is just that _I_ entered the race - anyone else could've done it with equal or greater ease. Finishing it in around 2.5 hrs - with an average speed of around 8-9kms/hr - now that'll be an achievement.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Where is my post?

Did you folks know that you cannot search for posts older than a certain date in Blogger? I was looking for one of my early posts, and the search facility in Blogger was of no help!

I also looked for a feedback link to give them a piece of my mind, but that doesn't seem to be present, either!!!

What is happening, Google!?
(For the skeptics, try this: Search for "Gandhi" in my blog. You'll see one result with the title "Nostalgia updated". Then, go to this link: and you'll see another instance of "Gandhi". Why isn't this shown in the results!? Or why doesn't Blogger come forth and state that posts before a certain date cannot be searched!?