Sunday, June 21, 2009

I told you so! :)

Some time ago, I’d predicted that Google’s next step towards world domination would be to produce a free OS for PCs. And as I predicted, they first made the mobile OS and now, they have the same running on PCs produced by Acer.

PS: This post, like the rest of the blog, only reflects my opinions and has NOTHING to do with my past, present or future employer(s).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nixon-Kissinger II

If you are a student of contemporary Indian history, you'd be familiar with the Nixon-Kissinger duo, and their attitudes towards India. While a lot of water has flown down the Mississippi and the Ganges since then, it looks like the wheel of time has come full circle again, giving us Nixon-Kissinger Part 2, also known as Obama-Clinton.

First, some history. Nixon and Kissinger, with no little help from Indira Gandhi, took Indo-US relations to their nadir. In their quest to get China on their side, against the Soviets, the duo looked the other side when Pakistan committed some of the worst abuses of human rights in the sub-continent, in what was then East-Pakistan. They formalized the US policy of preferring dictatorships over democracies, even when those dictatorships brutally supressed the mandate of democratic elections. In fact, Nixon offered to send the "Seventh fleet" carrier group into the Indian Ocean to pressurize India which intervened on the side of democracy. So bad was the deterioration in relations that the leaders of the countries couldn't even talk to each other without one calling the other a b***h.

The intervening years, the Kargil war, India's economic recovery and the Dubya-presidency had all contributed to healing the rift, but it looks like this is one wound the great black healer is going to rip open in his quest to heal other wounds.

Now, it is not wrong that the US has its own national interests in mind. But Obama in his nearly 6-month presidency hasn't made a single serious comment (and I'm ignoring platitudes like the praise he heaped on Moron) towards furthering Indo-US relations. He's made noises about getting India to sign the NPT and CTBT, has completely ignored the nuclear deal, brought back the hyphen between India and Pakistan, put pressure on India to start talking with Pakistan, made Bangalore the enemy in the outsourcing debate and in the latest of his antagonising statements, has opened the Kashmir bogey again. Not since the Nixon-Kissinger era have we seen such 'attacks'.

Will the relationship survive the Obama-Clinton foreign policy administration? I doubt it.

(Postscript: BTW, we had Ramachandra Guha, the author of "India after Gandhi" visit our lab and deliver a talk recently. Next in line are Sudha Murthy and Ramesh Ramanathan!)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Post = Random.NextPost();

Last week, we had a “Bring Your Child To Work” day, when parents are allowed to bring their kids to work so that the kids can get an idea of what their parents do during the day. We had a wide range of kids – from age 2 to age 14, and boy, was it fun!?

I couldn’t help noticing in all the revelry, that a disproportionate number of the children were girls. Even more peculiar, it seemed that it software fathers had a higher chance of having girl children than software mothers. Non-software folks had either male children or had an equal number.

This couldn’t be statistically true, I thought. But after a quick recap of my friends’ families, I think I’m ready to say that it is indeed statistically possible that male employees of software companies tend to have more girls than their female counterparts, and their male counterparts in other occupations. This needs more evidence, of course, and there needs to be a scientific reason for why it is so, but I think there is enough merit in trying to investigate the case.

And it was last week that I took part in my first protest march. We were protesting against the illegal felling of trees at CNR Rao circle, near IISc, which was ostensibly being done to build an underpass there. Now, I’m not a tree-hugger, and probably will never be, but this was something illegal being done. So, a few friends from MSRI and I went together, shouted slogans against the BBMP, had our photos taken, and came back. I have more to write on why such protests aren’t successful, but I’ll save that for another post.

BTW, here are a couple of photos of me at the protest: (I'm the one leaning on the tree)

Anyhoo, another thing that happened last week was that a submission a few of us from MSRI made to FSE 2009 was accepted and it’ll be part of the proceedings. The conference itself is in Amsterdam in August. I’ll see if I can post the paper somewhere.