Sunday, September 09, 2007

Perils of a Phd

Turns out that the T-Shirt I spotted and wrote of in the last post belongeth to a gentleman who would soon become my flatmate. A Phd in linguistics no less.

More rotfl happened when I let him setup the Wifi router , the password he deemed fit:
"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

no kidding. And the period is included.

Friday, August 10, 2007

This and that

For those who checked in and were tired of seeing that Coach post (Doc, that'd be you) ... this and that from where I am.

Seen on a T Shirt
# Memes dont exist , tell your friends.

: He's sold his soul
: Nobody buys souls nowadays

Fun fact : This place has the highest restaurants per capita in the USA.Many of them by the uphill I will walk to school. Bon appetit.

Oh yeah, and this guy was awesome . He had the most compelling ,white-collar-Shantaram kind of story to tell. Swindling the state of Oklahoma and running off to Costa Rica... the toll that took on his family and the lesson there for us MBA students.

But just as Martha Stewart made all that money after a stint at the Cooler , he's planning to payback the $4million he was fined through a book and movie deal.Given that he plans to star in the movie. Who knows the upside? ....and besides, how long would you spend in jail to have that money and a booking schedule like that on his website. Bet he doesnt do that for free (anymore).


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who's your COACH? (Gold refulgence)

How much would you pay for a bag by a brand named Coach.

Coach is big in the crossover luxury market. So much so that in Japan it is giving LVMH a run for its money . So, as another pointer to India Poised (muahahaha) comes news that LVMH is picking up a stake in Hidesign to counter Coach in Japan. Link

Would I pay more for a bag called Hidesign than one called Coach?
My Indian-english-educated ass says no , they have to cook-up a brand name.
My seen-Chinese-english ass says maybe the Japs think of a Cinderalla Coach and not an Indian Railways coach /coach class when they go and get that bag.

On the topic of East Asian english , I remember the signs in Shenzhen during my days there. The one that took the cake was this Farico style clothes store which announced its presence with a huge sign 'GOLD REFULGENCE' - pretty much what happens when translations are done by software than by context sensitive people. The chinese like grandiose nature invoking names which prove too much for Seattle programmers.
But even on relatively simple words there can be some amusing mix-ups as when one of my technically brilliant colleagues made a 45 slide presentation on programming practices. It was early days for her in figuring out English . She'd type in the first three letters of a word and then wait for the auto-complete prompt. Over-confidence in that software function resulted in a 45 slide presentation with each slide referring to Valuables , when she meant to use the word 'variable'.

This is a laugh out loud article in the IHT about the Chinese authorities scrambling to avoid englipiss embarrassment during the Olympics.

A billboard for a mall . Beijing officials are trying to improve the English of some ads. A better translation of the sign above might be, "Find something new and be pleasantly surprised."

Prof.Tool and a prominent retired professor, Chen Lin, are now at the vanguard of Beijing's English police, an effort emboldened by the Olympic self-improvement campaigns. City officials have enlisted the two scholars and other experts to retranslate the bad English translations on signs around the city....he spent his weekends visiting different businesses as if he were a detective in a linguistic vice squad. "I go in and I say the Olympics are coming and this sign is wrong," Tool said

Regular blunders include typos on menus in which the "b" in crab becomes a "p." Some translations are trickier - like describing pullet, a hen less than a year old, which appears on some menus as Sexually Inexperienced Chicken. Tool said one prominent sign had become a regular photo op for foreigners: the Dongda Anus Hospital.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Whither Logic

The Bush administration will probably be remembered as one of the most brazenly corrupt in the recent western politics.

The Neo-conservative hubris thats the idealogical fuel of this government was in full view when Wolfowitz was caught pulling his employers pants down to satisfy his girlfriend. When quizzed , all he could say was "The bank has important work to do and I will continue to do it.."

WTF?!!! I bet thats exactly what the maniac running Sudan , the Junta in Burma and even Hitler would've said when quizzed about irregularities.

....and the other thing that pissed me off this week was the pro-gun lobby in the US. In the wake of the Virgina Tech shootings , they've the gall to blame the high-death toll not on the easy availability of guns but on the University's ban on carrying weapons. According to them , the death toll would have been lower had people been allowed to carry guns on campus - then somebody in the room would have had a gun and would have shot the killer before he had the time to kill 32 people. WTF?!

When Saddam 'had' WMD , was the solution to get everybody to have WMD?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It'd be a sin not to share this

Sad&Freud und der MoFo

This is crazy :

The German Defense Ministry said yesterday that an incident in which a soldier was told to imagine facing hostile blacks in the Bronx while firing a machine gun was "absolutely unacceptable."
The video shows an instructor and a soldier in camouflage uniforms in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier, "You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother in the worst ways... Act."

See the video here

The sad part is that this doesn't seem to be an exception in the way military and even law enforcement training takes place. The parallel between this and those throat slashing islamists screaming 'Death to Infidels' is not insiginifcant. (On which topic Phil Rees - Dining With Terrorists is a highly recommended book. )

That reminds me of one of Nietzsche's famous quotes:
"Whoever battles monsters should take care not to become a monster too, for if you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you."

Would you perceive this picture differently if the men were not in military uniforms?

So , somehow , questions about nation state seem to be floating around more than ever. (nod at corp whore...kekeke)

PS : Sam Mendes Jarhead came to mind when I saw that video. Which reminds me I have to dig out that Full Metal Jacket DVD.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Expose Moi

Lust-er , notice the little caption in the pic before we continue.

Am I brand whore? I guess so.

When shopping for DVDs , I look at the cast (De Niro is good but beware of Adam Sandler ) or if its an international film look for a film festival award and review excerpt. When buying books I look for the assuring opinions of The Economist or The New Yorker on the jacket.

But then there's some such thing called over-exposure. So , books like the Tipping Point and Freakonomics stayed off my reading list for a long while. Maybe I am too cool to fall for what everybody else is falling for. The Maverick Delusion? (but we'll come to that shortly)

Recently I picked up Sam Harris 'The End Faith' based on 'em opinions and a decent sounding premise.

Harris has studied Eastern and Western religion for two decades and his premise in this book is

1> Religion as we know it today is a product tribalism
2> It has remained so because debate about religion is pretty much banned
3> Religious 'moderates' aid the fundamentalists because in a bid to be politically correct they disallow serious debate and thus the evolution of thought.
4> Religion can reach the certainties of science if such debate is allowed
5> Its too easy today for a fundamentalist to get his hands on catastrophic bombs , so the status quo cannot continue
6> For a start , each one of us should start condemning those who believe in things without a proof and those who stop us from questioning them.

Its an engaging,well written book. To get a taste of his thinking check out this debate in the Newsweek between him and the pastor/bestselling author of the 'Purpose driven life'.

The post 9/11 world has required that certain types of books be published and one genre thats taken off is the 'religion today' genre. Richard Dawkins was probably the king of this territory but now we have Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett

So , to go back to the point of over-exposure , you must have been living under a rock with your lights turned off if you haven't seen/heard about the 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. and as becomes a person of my standing , I stayed away from that book...but I did check out some YouTube video to know what the chap was on about. Now , theres a really kickass spoof video 'The Dawkins Delusion'.

Watch the real one first if you haven't heard Dawkins before

The God Delusion

The Dawkins Delusion

...and if you read the Newsweek debate ...Amit Verma on India Uncut has echoed my 'outrage' when he wrote this.

...and since my delusions have been broken , and if our honorable commerce minister Kamal Nath finds the time to got sit in the Mint-HT luxury conference , then who am I to not be reading The Cult of the Luxury Brand , a book that traces the status of luxury brands in Asia. (Quick review: Insightful, good peep into Asian society and the history of 'new money' in Asia , tendency to use complex sentences slight pain) . Samplers of cult status : Not uncommon for Japanese school-girls to sleep with middle-aged men to be able to buy a Louis Vuitton bag (94 % of Tokyo women in their 20s own one), South-Korean women buy bags on installment plans , girls buy a bag and subsist on cup-o-noodles for a while to make ends meet.

Excerpt from the book:

The Tai Tai Prayer
(Tai Tai = Hong Kong kitty party lady)

Armani, which art in Landmark, Hallowed be thy shoes
Thy Prada come , thy shopping done , in Central as it is in Paris
Give us this day our husband's Visa gold card and have him forgive us our
balance, as we forgive those who charge interest against us
Lead us not into Mistukoshi and deliver us from Wing On
For thine is the Chanel , the Gaultier and the Versace.
For Dolce & Gabbana

To close, on a recent trip to Bangkok Mr.D and I noticed a piece of taxi-art similar to the pic at the top of this post. The difference being that the lady had her piece of clothing thus : One foot on it and the other foot in it. My guess was that she was taking it off(filling the moment with possibilities) . Mr D averred that she was putting it on (filled with the weight of the morning after). Anyway will post a pic when get one and make a minor poll out of it.

Meanwhile pics from the trip are here 1 , 2


Friday, February 23, 2007

Afternoons and ForksandSpoons

Its a most incongruous location.

Afro-Asia building is located on Robinson road in Singapore. Its the kind of building they show in BBC documentaries when voiceover says " the 1970's the oil crisis caused a boom in the Saudi economy" , then they show those lego block structures which still have some art-deco hangovers but with the arrogance that the age of multinational corporation brought in , or the kind of building into which a secret agent enters following a diplomat in one of those movies that only the Germans can make dreary.

Its weird, that rectangular building , painted white with its orderly windows and conservative PWD architecture , having a name with the word 'Afro' in it .When I have to wait at the traffic signal across the road from the building , I sometimes try to picture a huge Afro-wig covering the top of the building .

Robinson road, strangely , is a continuation of Anson road . At one traffic signal it magically changes its name. Yeah , that Robinson road is the same one that MTV had in its address and would exhort you to write to in the 90s when they asked you to send in those laboriously crafted letters , which some kid with too much time(or stationery) on his hands actually sent in.

On one end of this road are the Singapore offices of Ogilvy , a nice old victorian structure , hugging the corner of Robinson and some by lane whose name nobody bothers with . The building itself looks rather like the offices of a bank or insurance company in London in the 20s , until you notice the pony tailed gents walking in and out and the towering Singapore stock exchange behind it.

In the midst all this and somewhere between restaurants with names like Munch and Cedele , on the ground floor of Afro-Asia building is Saravana Bhavan.

(Thats is a picture I pulled off and wondered for a while as to why the photographer decided to cover 15 feet of "non core-interest" space on the right of that pic, until I noticed the narcissistic instinct that placed him in the reflection in the glass there. The fella is not even making an effort to hide his intentions as he stands clearly parallel to the glass and attempts to make the bhavan mere collateral in his aggrandizement )

The first time I walked in , I felt cheated of the kind of atmosphere that the word 'Saravana Bhavan' should bring up . In me mind Saravana Bhavan = 'Ottel'. You know , I'm thinking temple street with its large bindi-ed flower and coconut vendors , gunny sacks , the frustrated rickshaw clamoring for space with his cycle-bell and the passing TVS with its pillion rider family clinging on for dear life. Yeah , like corp whore would agree , life is full of stereotypes ( which is probably why change is so difficult)

Inside too , the decor is in direct contravention to what an 'ottel' should be.There are ergonomic plastic chairs , a circular steel sink to wash your hands in , forks and spoons to be collected from a tray and when you ask the guy at the counter

"Idiyappa-tilla sakkarai irukumma"
(Is the Idiyappam sweetened with sugar?)

...the guy , who'd look at home in Toothukudi (or Tuticorin for you anglicised babus) will reply in chaste queen's language

" No sir, we just add some cinnamon"

This guy also has a tendency to look extremely irritated if you point out that the plate has only two idlis when the photo-menu behind him with the price shows three idlis. (and they dont even bother abt a disclaimer along the lines of 'Accessories shown in the picture are not a part of standard equipment')

I'm given a token number which I have to place on my chosen table . If its between 12:20 and 1:00 , then its guaranteed , that I'd have to elbow out some eager beaver to get a seat away from the aisle. You see , at those times , its a full house and one cannot savor rasam without being arse-brushed by every passer by.

Then theres the game of displaying the token correctly. In all their wisdom , they've gone and hired some chom waiters who armed with your plate of lunch and a token number to deliver it too, will roam the single-aisle managing to turn their head at the precise moment that your token would come into view , where it was obscured by somebody's arse or handbag.

Thats followed by the art of pursuing the full meal .It has all the trappings of south-indian meal in a restaurant which likes to flaunt its north-Indianess (more blasphemy of the "Saravana Bhavan' imagery) . The thali comes with six or seven little bowls filled with carrot-coconut, beetroot, rasam , sambhar , kozhambu , keerai(spinach) , curds and one with the quintessential 'sweet'. Now the curious thing is accompanying this array would be two puri's , which have exactly 1/4th diameter that any self-respecting puri should have . And by the way , which of the side-dishes should this go with? To save you from that mind numbing puzzle is a mound of rice which can be doused with kozhambu to banish those rats in the belly. Then theres the water which is served in plastic cups . Yebba!

When you try to forget your sorrows of the rape of the Saravana Bhavan experience , theyd go and play some song like "Vaaza meenukkum valakka meenukkum kalyanama" which appeals to some part of your heart that longs for things you'd be sick off in 10 minutes and then you'd forget the gross indiscretions and bring forth a happy burp.

The good thing , is this Ottel is situated right next to a book shop.This too is subject to the 12:20 to 1:00 rush , so that you'll find a crowd of post lunch browsers getting their fill of Fall fashion or the lack of it in the new Maxim or FHM. If you thought you had your quota of lunch time butt brushes , tough luck .

As I carefully sidestep that crowd and the crowd around the self-help sections lest I be defiled, I come in view of my favorite shelves. There I spend sometime leching after books like "Ideas: From Fire to Freud" or "Life and Death in Shanghai" . Then , when between that shelf and before I come around to laugh at Mitch Albom's "The five people you meet in heaven" , I come across the table where $5 books are piled. I've combed this table on a dozen occasions , only to be faced with choosing between David Baldacci and the novel version of "The Transporter : 2".

Fate decided that I deserved better and placed this on that table yesterday.

David Sedaris has been hailed one of the funniest writers alive . The first story in the book , which you can read here , had me guffawing in the Singapore public transport system . In the past Nick Hornby and Woody Allen have elicited the same response and not because they write a very different type of comedy. With shades of R.K.Narayan , Salinger , Chekov , Jerome K Jerome , Gerald Durrel and the two mentioned previously , the book is an awesome read. Funny yet poignant as the best of them.

Like Saravana Bhavan and the things in it , Sedaris' world is filled with the eccentricities of everyday life. Or is our world filled always with the same , but only that, quite often , the traffic light that had me wondering of the afro atop the building , instead worries me about the 30 seconds of a conference call that I might miss?

Thursday, February 22, 2007


"Megacorp is a term popularized by William Gibson derived from the combination of the prefix mega- with an abbreviation of the word corporation. It has become a term popularly used in cyberpunk literature. It refers to a corporation that is a massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus, it exhibits both horizontal and vertical monopoly). Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily-armed (often military-sized) security forces, hold 'sovereign' territory, and possibly even act as an outright government. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, with the idea of 'corporate culture' taken to the extreme."

It may be no surprise that the guy who coined that term came to the land where I live now and wrote this . Crackling , Laugh out loud article .

That was way back in 1993 and surprisingly even after billions have been spent to get rid of that sheen , the article is still 90% true.

Now, there sure is something to be said about pragmatism , and thats where the place seems to excel . It has produced some of the best geo-political commentators . If thats all you've got to live by , you get good at it .... and it helps if you have an interest in the philosophy of sun-tzu and others who gave rise to the empire which lead Napolean to remark :

"Let China sleep for when she awakes, she will shake the world"

Good read this one by one of the sharpest observers of international affairs who retired as the Chief of the UN Security Council . Offers an anti-dote to the kind of analysis we receive from the anglo-saxon world.

From the Asian Financial Crisis to the 'westernisation' of China in the 80s through television and the wisdom of Deng Xiao Ping , Mahbubani handles these topics with ease and passion. He exhorts American policy makers to re-evaluate their foreign policy approach to include the 'law of unintended consequences' .

Occasionally though , the language lacks authority and his admiration for 'American univeristy education' can seem to verge on the servile (its after all a pragmatists book) . His constant reference to 'educated elite' and 'sophisticated classes' led me to reinforce my views on the hierarchical system here until I was realized that the ruling class in every country - whether it had Laloo at the helm or a Cambridge educated Nehru , each country has its educated elite who largely determine the course of the nation. It may have been the same knee jerk anti-elitism that led Mao to persecute any 'intellectual' during China's cultural revolution.

I still recall the day four years ago when I half-sneeringly asked one of my Chinese colleagues , "Do you like Hu Jintao " , his plain reply was "Do you like Vajpayee?" . Nominal democracy does have its advantages , but one can take a moral argument too far.

After reading the book , one realizes what a failure Channel NewsAsia has been . It was launched to serve a similar purpose but has since descended into being nothing more than a place where reporters practice gesticulating wildly to seem informed...and now and then vaguely alluding to some ethereal 'asian perspective' with background shots of bamboo/pagodas.

Hope the new Al-Jazeera english channel based in Kuala-Lumpur will do better .

Friday, January 12, 2007

Waking up

Its been many moons since the last I'll take this with a warm up.

Them clouds have always had a special place in my heart(think Ive got one)...not like when I gape at them on a clear day (which I've started doing after I heard of this )

...but like when clouds come down to meet the earthly.

My top three trysts with clouds

3. Flying over the red-brown mountains of central Asia , gazing across the expanse to the horizon , I see a snow-capped peak , head and shoulders above the clouds
(If you fly to Europe or back from Delhi take a window seat on a flight time that will afford you a gape at the beauty of the mountains beyond the Hindu-Kush)

2. One morning , fresh like it can be on a morning after sending some , trekked up the hill face in Munnar and perched on a rock atop , I see this cloud approaching. Slowly it does and it breaks into the mist that surrounds me. Like many of those things in life , the most beautiful things can be so simple when you meet them.

1. Aged 8 in Ooty , chasing some plaited skirts , suddenly find myself in a cloud. Felt like being in cotton-candy. A little scared , faced with the limited visibility. ...first times are always the best eh? warm up from the long silence when I stood in my balcony gazing at the monsoons devour the sauna that is Singapore....

.....not to evoke the wrong gods....but that sight kind of reminded me of that 11th of Sep....and when we are on the topic of twin-towers...heres one I grabbed last year in KL

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What repeats itself

Remember that MTV filler with a cat meowing and a dog barking and pistol going off - "meow" "bow" "TISH!!!" - and all looped?

You like? Then check it video below

Which reminded me of this by Da Main-man Mark Romanek


Thursday, October 12, 2006

High strung Burman

I've been tripping on Kronos Quartet for sometime now.

They're a string quartet who have been around since the late 70's.
Mainly playing comissioned works , they colloborate with a number of eclectic composers.

In Aug this year they released "You've stolen my heart" with Asha Bhosle.
First imperssion maybe that it's more Asha Bhosle than string quartet , but its also more Burman that Bhosle.

Preview here.
(click on 'Preview' at the bottom of the page)

'tis a string party.

Check out the wicked start on Dum Maro Dum and the writhing strings throughout on the instrumental 'Mehbooba' and 'Piya too Ab to Aaja'.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What IS

The last post used the world IS as an idea of defintion. But here is something to chew on.

I dont know abt you , but when I see a yahoo msngr 'Avatar' blink , its a different feeling . Not quite the same as the Windows 'search puppy' blink.

I have never been big on gaming or its online version. When I heard that in Korea players were trading their online wins for real money , it did pique my curiosity.

Ted Castronova at Indiana Univeristy in Bloomington is a pioneer in this study. He's an economist with some interesting takes on what virtual worlds mean.

Check this out.
(Click on REAL on the page)

This always seemed as some kind of 'game' - what put this in perspective is the new online community called Second Life.

Virtual worlds are evolving from games to become more than a game , to become a society . Like an orkut with a physical dimension and voicechat replacing the keyboard.

Get this , the virtual world trade in this economy is worth about the same as the basketball shoe market in the United States.

Indiana University is a pioneer in this study , with the Synthetic World's Institute

The case for research in this field is convincingly made in pages 3 to 9 of this pdf . If you liked the Economist article , you will love this document.

Virtual reality is increasingly being used by Market researchers to study in-store behaviour . Reebok , Nike and any marketer who thinks of himself as cutting-edge is looking to invest in this world.

In the wake of the GooTube deal , Second Life is seen as a strong contender for the next billion bucks shovelled into Web 2.0

The excitement in this field is only bound to continue . Get used to it , someday when all your orkut friends have moved onto a virtual world , you will too.

Monday, October 09, 2006

what your definition IS

So , in the yesteryear , yours truly would trip on a show called 'Over the Edge'on channel V . It was a show that would take all the stuff they could not show at earthly hours when Dorothy might turn on the telly or the stuff that they could not slot into 'House of Noise' and throw it at you in one concentrated half hour of weirdness.

Thus painted by the soundtrack of Chuck Palahniuk's imagination , I would approach junta with the question - 'Do you like Beck?'
Often , the expression would change to that they wear when theyve squished a large insect and just noticed the green I exaggerate ...the answer would be a ".....its weird stuff" , with the preceding dots in that line punctauated by hints of the above mentioned look.

Its good to see though that junta who would not touch such music with a bargepole cozy upto this genre from different angles.

Stumbled on this site today - Ishkur

There's electronic music from before the cows left home.
It has some kick-ass genre explanations , like this one that tripped me no end (bcos it rings true?) - IDM Artcore. Yeah, thats a name of a genre of electronic music.

Click on the pic and checkout the explanation on the bottom right.

Yeah, I did like IDM track one .
For those of you who remember the video from Unkle that was banned(in aid of sweet Dorothy) bcos it had a guy walkin thru a tunnel , getting pummelled by passing cars. That song is under the genre Illbient (under Downtempo - top right) . 'Ill' as in thats wicked , thats baaad , thats Ill. Buahahahaha

Have fun.

Friday, September 29, 2006

We know a LOT about you (insert diabolic laugh)

So, I rebuilt my laptop thanks to some arthritic windows performance.

Installed Firefox and found a google web accelarator that over the past 4 days has saved me an awful lot of time as it proudly proclaims on my taskbar

As much as Google would like to apply science for the greater good of humanity - to banish hunger or your need to sit in a public restroom - there's still a way to go and I'm ready to live with 20 secs saved over 5 hours online.

But , what I cant live with is my homepage changing automatically to this:

Now , I cant recite the Kural backwards , but I'm a proud tamil - but how did Google know?

Where did they snoop around on my hard disk ? I dont have tamil files on my disk, and I dont surf tamil sites - so , howd they know?

What are they tapping into? My previous post on this blog with a Tamil headline? My sub-conscious ? WTF??????

So , while they are laughing all the way to the bank selling targetted advertising - I have to go and change my home page back to Englipiss.

...and curiosity led me to click aroud and I noticed that the Google Tamil page does not have a News link - neither does Google Telugu,Kannada,Hindi,Gujarati,Bangla - but the Arabic,Chinese,Spanish and French sites do have the news link.

W T F???

Is this a google conspiracy to systematically deprive Indians of the news ? Another ploy to stem the tide of outsourcing by encouraging us to hemorrhage on indiatimes?

Be afraid , be very afraid - theyre watching us and theyre plotting.

Or maybe I've gone loony on myself , maybe this is coming from the voice that spoke to me last night , from the mandala that dominates my amygdala.

Or maybe that last para is auto inserted by Google to undermine the solid logic in my rant.

Any which way , guess its time to review those privacy agreements before you click
"I whole-heartedly agree to be your BDSM slave"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How do you spell Miami?

B - A - D
Thats how .

Yeah NY has its PD and so does LA , and Chicago had its hooch days , and then there is Vegas , but nothing screams criminal chutzpah like Miami.
NY has it soho and columbia liberal-cultural arse trade hub status . LA is just too many freeways and nigga , Vegas is just sin city.
Miami has focus.
Its pastels in art-deco beachfront and suits in the 80s Miami Vice and the chainsaw amputation in Scarface . At the meeting of the industrial-military complex that's the USA and the cut throat justice of a Colombian gangster, Miami is the BAD boy.

Miami Vice is a bang for buck action flick from the man. Michael Mann.
Colin Farell does a passable job and like someone said , even if he has some talent , he'll be one of those guys who never seems to make it.
Jamie Foxx is his partner in crime , busting crime.

But , the onscreen presence that takes the cake is Gong Li .

She just exudes menacing *bitch* , confidence and vulnerability in quick turns. Her mainland china accent rocks the delivery with an uncanny spin.
(...sometimes does sound manufactured though)

The script is quite thin, relying on the action and quick lines.

What ROCKS is Mann's visual style. Witness the scenes with that black and white striped building , the buildings curved on the windshield as they drive thru the city , the clouds and car in the scene when Colin and Gong Li drive up to their house in Havana. Paintings each of them.
Mann could easily be the new Edward Hopper interpreting urban America.
While he shines in urban landscapes , there some kick-Ansell Adams' -ass shots too.
Those 5 or 6 scenes where the photography overloads ur visual processing make the money all worth it.

This sense adds the kitsch to the chutzpah mentioned earlier (and that's as much verbal oomph I can put in one sentence)

The thing is , with all that genius on so few scenes , sometimes its tiring to see a scene without such composition . But hey , he's only a Mann.(sorry)

Go watch Miami Vice. Solid action , fast paced script and sheer Miami Kitsch will give a good 2 hr experience.
And do yourself a favor , watch it on the big screen .
Gong-Li's little mole needs a large screen to dazzle you.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More of less ....(when its not less)

So... stirred by the music of Steve Reich , I set forth to get more of it
....and found out about Philip Glass.

I couldnt agree more with Wiki(or the man)
"His music is frequently described as minimalist, though he prefers the term theatre music"

Minimalist or not , its some real music.

"He is considered one of the most influential composers of the late-20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public (apart from precursors such as Kurt Weill and Leonard Bernstein), in creating an accessibility not previously recognised by the broader market."

Truly accessible , I may listen to Chopin or Bach . But, Glass's music - it talks to me.

..and whats more its all for your listening pleasure with this cool online tool (remember its NOT point and click but click and slide and I'm not sure it works with Firefox )
....been tripping on Intensity track there.

Check it out...and if you need some convincing , the mans scored the music for The Truman Show, The Hours , The Fog of War and Kundun.

Give that link a go.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


This pic might not make it as big as the lone guy blocking the path of a tank in Tiananmen , but its quite a pic

Kids posing in front of Tanks on Bangkok's streets - The military took control of the country last night

Tis also a nod at Thai dealings - things are rarely what they seem.

The level of shadow puppetry thats lead to last night's coup had exhausted the country and dented the economy to no small extent.

Thaksin has been a lame duck since Jan and his declaration from NYC that he has ordered martial law is beyond silly

He rarely was in the King's good books and that does not help his political career .

He had even gone so far as putting up posters of himself on many a country road . Posters that show him dressed in Royal regalia , with medals and all , much like the King's - recipe to get bullied.

Someone else who has gotten bullied in this whole affair is Temasek.
Their 2.6 Billion $ stake in AIS has already seen 40% of its value eroded with all the turmoil following their buying Thaksin's family business earlier this year.

This article in the financial times is a sparkling piece on the extent of 'adjust maadi' in Thai FDI system and the problem with that is that it is a house of cards.

Just like Thaksin's was when he messed with the Army and the King.

Investors will better have learned a few lessons following this episode.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Silly Cool

Dilletante tagged me to put up a sily pic of myself

Staying in Singapore and watching Channel News Asia reporters gesture wildy with no reason , Ive become quite an expert on the deft use of hands to convey cool.
So , when my 9 yr old nephew hijacked the camera....Struck a pose in the shade of some balcony laundry

In turn I tag vkb and Ash.o.k - yeah more silliness

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Vela trip (vera velai illai)

So..some minimalist music and velagiri has yielded some trippin

First off , its Steve Reich(whose music might last a thousand years....err dubba pun , but I spent some formative years thumbing books on the Nazis)....he supposedly a 'minimalistic' musician. Which is what I thought when I heard "Electric Counterpoint - Slow" and "Electric Counterpoint - Fast" . I liked the ...well..minimalism and got the album Music for 18 musicians which was made by his ensemble which started with 3 and grew to 18.

The album like Couter point is variations of the same set.
Section 3 , is like Bjork's Pagan Poetry meets the care-free exuberence of some classic 80's Ilayaraaja for Mani Ratnam . Such is the music.

Critiqued here

...and talking of strange sounds , I saw Broken Flowers last week , after a while listening to that haunting score by Mulatu Astatqe , I recalled that I indeed possessed a DVD of the same, which I bought in this trippy alley in DJakarta

Enjoyed watching the movie , though Bill Murray's general zombie countenace like in Lost in Translation is becoming solpa boring
...nyway , watching the movie made me research Mulatu and I stumbled upon Fela Kuti's wiki entry , some guy!....funny article that...reads like the exploits of a dada-ist AfroBeat musician.

...and among other things , came across this Shunga(Hentai)by Hokusai

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife , 19th Century wood cut

.... which reminded me of this old goth painting , but with a kind of twist only the Japs can introduce

The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli, 1781

...and last I found this blog ,of a desi who said this

I'll let you discover more - here

All in all vela paisa vasool for broadband .

Friday, September 08, 2006

On over-analysis (that leads to over-simplification)

So , vkb put up this post about how the gmail toolbar is confusing.
Although his blog is way too much OTH at times , GUI design is something where, I like to believe, I'm entitled to some opinions

On pondering over it at length for 15 secs , I think the logic wouldve been - "In the Inbox and Allmail folders , the Delete button is the last one , as clicking on it will mean that those emails do not belong to that folder. So , the last button has a 'does not belong here' function . ....and in the Spam folder , the 'Not Spam' button does the same - the non-spam email does not belong there"

That leads us to the question , was that over-analysis by the gmail team.As opposed to a focus on the user and intuition . Paradoxically Over analysis leads to over-simplification where the assumption is somethings can be accurately analysed conceptually.

On a related note , I am trippin on Mr.D's recommendation - Paco Underhill's Why We Buy (...which leads me to discover that Wiki has not english entry for this dude)

So...I have this theory that car companies have a little trick. Its called the 'hard to get' . All the luxury cars have a certain similar flow of lines. Think Jaguar , BMW x Series, Lexus - they have a common set of design elements , which probably incorporate what is the current perception of 'wow!' (good wow) . Now , I'd argue that it is equally easy to make a car having these same elements at a much lower , mass-market price . But then , they would not be the scheming merchants then , would they? why dont you see tail lights and lines like that on a Ford Focus or Honda City
...thats the arbit theory of the week...a series which was not so much a series until this post....the theory though is kinda tested by the fact that the Camry and the Lexus share lineage and the 2007 camry kicks some semi-serious ass .

...maybe thats the plan ...phase out some ghise-pitey 'wow' elements by introducing them into the lower price bracket (?)

moving along .. Cisco is coming to a TV near you. So, they suddenly woke up and thought they need to be a consumer company maybe they found that out when they acquired Linksys who makes your wireless router...anyway..appears they will get a new logo in Oct to go with the whole story...will be interesting to see that play out - and since this push is headed by a woman , it reminds me of Fiorina at HP trying to be all 'consumer' and make digital cameras and all kinds of consumer stuff ...some companies can only do somethings (Dell also made mp3 players and digital cameras - frickin Dell!!!).... personally...I am rooting for Cisco , they maybe the big bad boy(ala Microsoft) stifling competition in their industry , but one has to hand it to people who want to do new stuff. Go Steve!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Go to barcamp

...continuing on the open source theme from the last post...

I heard of this concept of Barcamp.....which is pretty much a 'wiki' like event .
(Wunder how long it will take 'wiki' to be in the dictionary ala googled)

You can check it here

Recall a died-before-it-saw-the-light-of-someones-eyes-wall-mag that el'Nanny and me made back in College , which was torn down by some over enthusiastic canteen wall cleaner.

Anyway although BarCamp started off as a tech-geek thing it no longer is.
See if you can manage one.

barcamp , cool concept.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Its out there

I remember seeing the first report on MIT OCW , their effort to make their learning available on the internet ,and being impressed.
Glad to see now that it has buy in from Johns Hopkins, Tufts , Duke , among 100 universities from around the world now a part of the OCW Consortium.

Which resonates with the Moosh man Thomas Friedman , giving this lecture on his book, The World is Flat at MIT - View here . He never fails to impress , except maybe when he goofs some technological reference (those details are not his job) , or when he says bUngalore , but you better get used to phirangs doing that.

Anyway...abt OCW - if reading is not your cuppa , theres some cool audio/video lectures.

Its sad though that given India's role in the new digital world , there not one Indian university in the OCW Consortium. Is that because of the level of government control on Indian universities?

Now they'll ban my blog.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another take on TV

Some junta like to be all psued and take pride in tha fact that they hardly ever turn on the TV . Thooooo ninna - thats probably because , as far as you are concerned , TV means Everybody loves fuckin' Raymond or smthin.

Russel Davies(some adworld dude) , much like my Taiwan post below has this collection , of All TV channels in the hotel .Check it out Amman , Miami

Smthin an all (or chummaaa post)

Last night , saw this black car go by , in the darkness what stood out was MASERATI scrawled in size 100 font on the side of the car .

What kind of a tikla does that?

I can picture him , each morning , beholding his wheels and exulting "YEAH!!!!! YEEEEAAAAH!!!! " , egged on by the scrawled name - with the same gusto as Beavis going "I need TP for my bunghole!"

Then in other stuff .... watched "Everything is Illuminated" , its disarmingly funny for the most part. Those Ukrainians kicksass ....and so does the central asian landscape .... ...talking of that ....twiddling thumbs in a meeting , I was rescued by a large map of the world on the wall. Lesson learnt - Kazakhstan is as large as India.

Central asia man! , I am going to tour that place on a bike , or better a caravan -someday.

Anyway... The movie is well worth a watch just for the acting , however I get the feeling the book'd have been better. Sadly , Elijah Wood does nothing more than look puzzled or keeps a wooden expression. The man who rocks is Eugene Hutz , actually born in Ukraine he is the King of this 'Premium' Movie.

Eugene Hutz on the right.

...and these two together rock the show

Then again , last week , found the dvd of "The Proposition" , starring Guy Pearce.
What made me buy it is the fact that it was written by and with music by da' dude Nick Cave .

Set in the Australian outback in the 1800s it has some stunning landscapes and quite strongly conveys the isolation of settler life there. The story is quite straight forward , but with some excellent acting by Emily Watson . The others too do a good job.
Solpa disappointed though that the music by da' Dude twas not quite what I expected , nice opening credits song though.

Among other things , I went and bought 'Introducing Semiotics' , trippin only , its like a Mobius strip , words dissecting the import of words...or whatever man

..and now to finish with a desi story I hrd
The University of Texas at Arlington has one of the highest desi student populations , so apparently there is this hostel block(or student hall or whatever those guys going to 'school' like to call hostles) with only desis.
Some clueless Amru visitor , looking for his Amru friend wanders in there and knocks on one of the doors
Sleepy desi opens the door

Amru : Is Dan Here?

Desi: No , there are no foreigners in this block

Friday, June 30, 2006

Reality can be a dream

Easy is right.
Begin right, and you will be easy.
Continue easy and you are right...
The right way to go easy is to forget the right way, and forget that the going is easy.

Chuang Tzu

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Naruwan Taiwan

Never had been to a Chinese country that enjoyed unfettered democratic freedom.

The change was heralded by this

I like the way that letter ended , those last 3 words are used time and again by foreigners to best describe the quirks of that country and its colourful parliament.(Check this 1 , 2, 3 )

..and some grand freedom too , even in proud-of-freedom India or Bush country , I doubt if a protest wouldve been allowed right at the main entrance to the Hotel

...but hey , it was not without some supervision

...and some photo ops for Tourist brethren from less free Chinese lands .

Given that approach to dissent , the news media has a ball.
Not sure if Indian media has yet reached this level of Frenzy.(Aye! to the Gents 1 , 2)
Every little restaurant/shop/barber who has a TV is glued to breaking matter if its been broken to smithereens by 48 hours coverage.
In Taipei, News is King . Solpa contrast to pelvic grinding Jhankar in Indian small shop TV.

TV graphics on steroids

President Chen Shui Bian is facing a recall motion thanks to his wife trying to sell SOGO(ala Shoppers Stop) discount vouchers worth millions - new frontiers in under the table innovation.... and the media milked it.

...complete with flow charts

... and you know the media is doing more than its job when you have question marks and exclamation spicing headlines

..which might be alright if we are talking political scam. But speed limits?

...or a panel discussion with a dentist??

...and, yeah - I tripped on the blazing colours, sensationalism and Chinese dissent.

But this tendecny to cram every inch of eyeball real estate goes beyond Television, evidence this chinki chaat stall

Its probably no coincidence those TV screens remind one of Japanese TV games.
The Japanese cultural Armada has shaped a large slice of Taiwanese conscious...and street signage

Which leads to outdoor innvovations like this building(not an exception at all)
in downtown Taipei

Keep Gaping.

But there sure is more to this nation of 20 million.

I expected a Hong Kong/Singapore like aam junta disposition , and as anal as customers can be about procedure and precision , I found the people quite chilled out , unhurried and garrulous. Taxi drivers entertained me with their barrage of mandarin to encourage my spartan knowledge of that fascinating tongue.

..and to satisfy the famed Chinese libido , the city is peppered with Love Hotels . Complete with 24 hrs inhouse porn channels.

..and with Computex Taipei on and all hotels full,and while I lounged here , one of my colleagues solpa bent company policy by shacking in one of those .
If he did care to find out what Room Service meant in a hotel like that , he kept it to himself.

This is whats called a truly national beer.

.... much as this bird tries to paint itself in the colours of the Chinese Opera

I used to trip no-end on that Famous Grouse TV ad.

...and ofcourse no visit to a Chinese city is complete without guffawing at the Ingwen

Check it the guy inside , making a point as a Frenchie would in a Parisian Cafe.
As popular as golf is in East Asia, my guess is more business is carried out in Massage parlours than on the greens.

Meanwhile at Shihlin Night market -
Dear God! We have a situation , Consumerism is in overdrive.

...and I'm a selling the values on this T-Shirt

... and there are five Starbucks and seven 7-11's within 5 mins walk of each other

But then again , theres also street food to die for..

..and wash it down with some Chinese Tea ( thats now cosy with Japanese heating technology)

...or some bitter gourd and carrot juice

...yeah thats bitter gourd on the left , fat as fat cucumber and the colour of a ripe guava.

...but also Dear Lord ,look , heres a Cat striking a pose

...and Ray Charles is Smiling ... so maybe its still OK

Chinese Ray chose a vertical keyboard , probably because,back in the day , Chinese was written right to left and top down.As this vertical menu attests

On the 30min commute , often times saw stalls with bright lights and sultry women , on enquiry they turned out to be Ping-lang chi-tsi. Its never Ping-lang nuihai(Betel Nut woman) ,its always Ping-lang chi-tsi, like if we'd say Yeley Adke Apsarae

Imagined the stall back in the day when mini-skirts were unknown in China , a geisha with a red-tongue .

Much like the Indian association of beeda with sensuality....remember ? Khushboo in Nattamai jiving to 'Kotta paakaum..kozhundu vettalyaum..pottal vayyy sevakkum' ...buahahahaha

Anyway ...these bright neon lights are on every street in Taipei .The economics support that number , a pack of 7 little beedas , the size of a large bubble gum costs about Rs.70 .
And so the clientele spends more on Betel nut than does the average chain smoker on ciggies...and it has a cult following on the night-club circuit.

Reminded me of the days in school when we'd hoard up on Bambaiya from Friends Stores during the lunch break.

Ofcourse , I had to try some pinglang , and stopped by that chi-tsi above .

The Taxi driver warned me its addictive . I ventured forth boldly.
...and as I savored the juices , our friendly taxi driver went onto describe how a famed local fraudster not unlike Harshad Mehta , was sentenced to 10years in jail and the terms of confinement included only 20mintues a day outside the cell for a walk in the prison yard. Devout ping-lang chewer that he was, he pleaded that he be given ping-lang in exchange for giving-up the 20min a day walk.
Thats Stranger than Camus.

...and last, the place that served some kickass Taro bubble tea and reminded me to blog this.

Cross posted at Traveblogs