Category Archives: Interesting Stuff on the Net

Oh, really

Bahraini protesters in front of the White House on 02/20/2011

Bahraini protesters in front of the White House on 02/20/2011. Image by messay.com via Flickr

New York Times writes:

Obama Administration officials say King Hamad had listened to President Obama when Mr. Obama urged him to pull back his security forces from the protesters and so has earned the right to try to manage reform on his own.

Oh, really.

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Walking About in London

One of the more interesting things we did in London, when we were there, was a guided walk. It was close to Gandhi Jayanti, and I wanted to do something more momentous than watch TV, or maybe play A. R. Rahman’s Vande Mataram, and reminiscence about Republic Day to mark the occasion.

So I went online and, lo and behold, (and for this reason I love London: you can find anything in this city) I found this guided walk on Gandhi, where we would be taken to places where he stayed, met people, ate, studied etc. But when I bounced this idea off my chums, they were showing as much interest as a pigeon would show to a statue. (If you know what I mean. My mom doesn’t – she thinks pigeons are very interested in statues.)

Alright, scratch that idea, I said, and I went back online to see what else we could do. That’s when I struck upon the mother-lode of all guided walks: Spies and Spycatchers of London.

The guide would take us through the poshest parts of London, to show us such places where you couldn’t enter unless you were the head of your country/state. Mere ambassadors would be been sneered upon, and billionaires would have been shown the way to the Crystal Club1 down the road. Some shops on the streets we passed required you to show proof of income beyond a million dollars to just open the door for you. Okay I just made up that last bit.

You get what I mean, right? Really posh stuff. We even got to see the Sultan of Brunei’s apartment (from the outside, of course).2 That kind of posh.

And all this while, the guide, who looked old enough to have lived through both the wars, was spouting true stories of intrigue on the Cambridge Five, MI56, CIA, gentlemen’s clubs and suchlike niceties in the world of espionage, with liberal doses of humour. (I don’t think I should bore you with such details anyway. You can go and mosey around on Wikipedia if you want to know any more stuff. Besides, the most interesting stuff that came up during the tour, apart from all the spy stories, was the story of the woman, who was, to put it politely, a bit on the healthy side, who was determined to get a photo of her on the famous Churchill and Roosevelt bench on Bond Street. Needless to say, after she managed to insert a significant bit of herself in between the two helpless gentleman, she found their company hard to leave, and a fire brigade had to be called to extricate her.)

And we were enjoying ourselves to say the least. The walk was about a mile and 3/4s long, and we hadn’t cranked our creaky joints like this for weeks. And the weather was brilliant. And I got to wear my Ray-Bans, without being laughed at. Such joy.

We even got to see the Itsu where the Russian poisoned another Russian to get back at yet another Russian on behalf of a whole lot of Russians, if you know what I mean. I am not supposed to talk about this actually, just in case, all these Russians get together put a whole salt-shaker full of Polonium Chloride, and give my wasabi a radioactive twist. I mean more than what is necessary 3

Moral of the story: That particular walk is totally worth the 7 GBP that Alan, the guide, will charge you. Just make sure the weather is good.

And if all this wasn’t enough, I even got a quiz question out of the day. Alan Turing, of the Turing test fame, worked at Bletchley Park, where all the code-breakers got together during WW2 to break the German naval codes. During the time, he succeeded in breaking the Enigma and became a hero among the small community he was known in.

Alas, his fame was shortlived, when they discovered he was gay. He was sidelined, branded a “security risk”, and was denied all recognition that was rightfully his.

Turing moved in with his mother after his government flat was taken away, and soon went into manic depression. One day, unable to take it any longer, he laced his food with cyanide, took a bite out of it and killed himself.

Years later, a well-known company immortalised this incident in their logo. Name the company. (Please submit your answers in the comments.)

1Apparently an exclusive night-club, where even Hollywood stars are denied entry at times. Paris Hilton puts in an appearance sometimes, I have been told. ^^

2 There aren’t really any bungalows/independent houses in what is known as ‘proper’ London. The default kind of house you will find is an apartment, unless you count the Buckingham Palace as a house (which it is not, since the Queen’s “proper home” is the Windsor Castle, so the Buckingham Palace is really an office block.)

Although apartments can take on ridiculous dimensions unseen elsewhere in world in the said category. For example, the Sultan of Brunei’s London “apartment” was a mere 4 floors high above ground, and unknown number of floors deep below ground, with almost each room to it’s separate floor, and each floor two-three times as big as my apartment in London. So technically, the Buckingham Palace is just an apartment, with fancily dressed guards.^^

3Apparently after the Litvinenko incident, Itsu had shut down that outlet, and took a long time reopening the Piccadilly outlet where it had happened. Some of their major arguments against the reopening were: “It would be damn ironical, if people die at a place whose motto is health and happiness.” (I am not joking here.) They eventually opened 9 months later, and the crowds just kept on coming. Apparently they didn’t want to miss the next show.^^

Them Bloody Lawyers

Recently, a doting father bought his son, an unusual present. Though nowadays, when unborn babies get their own blogs or Twitter feeds, this gift may not be so unusual soon.

Dad bought darling beta a domain name on the web: Narnia.mobi.*

The son was a huge fan of the Narnia books and movies, and instead of being the run-of-the-mill dad, buying action figures, or quilts, or suchlike things, he decided he would notch up a few points on the cool-dad scale, and buy him a domain for the mobile version of the Narnia site.

Enter villain: The Estate of C. S. Lewis, who controls the rights to the intellectual property of Narnia. And like all villains in movies are wont to do, they did the stupidest thing possible: Sue the father.

The father claims that he is legally permitted to own the domain since there is some sort of window that is given to all owners of trademarks to book sites that would be pertinent to their trademark, and somehow the Estate of C.S. Lewis overlooked this one. Now since the domain name was bought after the window was closed, the father claims that he is legally in the right.

And obviously he would fight to keep it, seeing how difficult it is to get just the right domain name, unless you are looking for something nonsensical like, ummmm, Yahoo or Google :P. (put links)

Whatever; I am not going to argue about who is right.

But look at this: however the situation ends, whether the creative father or the lumbering C. S. Lewis Estate wins, the C. S. Lewis is going to get oodles of bad press, especially in the target market it’s trying to sell its merchandise, for example, young boys like the darling beta in this story.

Instead, what they should have done, to become heroes in this story, is to have gone and told the father and son that: “Look, we know you are huge fans, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought the domain. But let us make the site that goes on the domain in the Narnia fashion, or at the very least, do let us link up your site with our main site, and let us sell cute little Lion, Cupboard and Witch dolls on your site. Hell, you can even keep 10% of the revenues we make on your site.

That, my dear friends, is an offer, you can’t refuse.

And, this is not because there aren’t any clever guys who are advising the C. S. Lewis Estate. Mind you, they are too clever by half. It’s those lawyers who know that litigation will rake in more money than their hefty retainers, who said, let’s sue their puny little mobile domain asses.

Incentives, I tell you, make the world go round.

~

Any consulting company who still wants to hire me, can do so. Surprisingly for the amount of brain power I come with (I am selling myself here:P), I am willing to be paid salaries you pay your analysts.

I may not be that cheap much longer, if I keep coming up with such award-winning cost-cutting ideas. (“Fire them bloody lawyers!”)

Oh, and here is my resume.

* Interestingly WHOIS, a tool which tells you who owns the domain, shows that C. S. Lewis estate owns the domain now. Must have been quite the letdown for the poor boy. ^^

Britain’s Got Talent. Yeah Right.

What is with Bhangra Pop, that kindles a primal urge in every human being, across class and race, to pump one’s fingers towards the sky, while shimmying our legs in random directions? And make it seem like the most enjoyable thing on earth?

You say, primal urge, eh? What bakwaas, eh? I can prove it too.

Exhibit A:
How did Malkit Singh, of all the musicians in the whole wide population of musicians from India and its diaspora, manage to get a knighthood?
Answer: That’s right: Bhangra (pronounced as: Bh-AN(as in the article an)-GRA(Rhymes with Zebra)) Pop.

Exhibit B:
How did Madhu Singh, and his Pakistani friend, Suleiman Mirza, almost win the reality-TV talent-show, Britain’s Got Talent?
Ans: That’s right! Mix in a good measure of Bhangra Pop, with liberal doses of moonwalking and pelvis-grabbing a la Michael Jackson, so that you have got everybody covered, as far as entertainment spectrum is concerned. Then do the same thing again, and then again, … as many times as you need to get to the trophy.


Their auditions

Of course, none of the producers will ever be quoted saying that the only reason they made the on-screen judges let the duo go from round to round, is because of the TRPs they were getting, (there are some advantages to pandering to the huge Indian diaspora) inspite of the shitty stuff Signature, the moniker the duo go by, kept dishing out.

Ok, I am being a little harsh. They were good in the first round. I actually smiled.


Their performance in the semi-final.

But putting the same inane stuff again and again, was admittedly a little boring. Even then, I can still understand the producers’ reluctance to give up the moolah. (Which would explain, why they were the last act in the series.)

What I can’t understand is, the completely white audience going stark-raving mad everytime they played the Bhangra beats during the show. Then I heard about Malkit Singh in his regalia getting the knighthood. (Link to his interview where he says: “You will not believe me but everybody goes crazy when they play Punjabi music.” We believe you, Malkitji. We have video evidence here.) I knew Prince Charles talked to his plants, but I thought his mum was definitely a chip of the good sort. Maybe I have to revise my thoughts. (Ok, I know that honours lists are decided by Whitehall dummies, and I don’t need frothing Monarchists on my blog, spouting comments questioning my IQ.)

The icing on this mouldy cake was that at the end of each round, they would become all determined to put up an even better, an more mind-blowing act in the next round. And preceding each act would be a black-and-white, non-linearly edited, presentation on their practicing while going to work and studying, and how they were motivating each other, on how to come up with something better.


Their performance in the final.

Guess what, they did the same thing again everytime. Either the other contestants were pretty bad, or, the audience memory was quite a bit short.

Of course, as a veteran of many an L-square, I can vouch for the fact that doing the pump-and-kick Bhangra jig, is oodles of fun. (More if you manage to get in the odd poke in the eye, and kick in the groin.) But watching it from the sidelines, does a wonderful job of making you feel short of a few IQ points. Definitely, not a suitable entry for a talent show.

But you know what, inspite of all that, Signature still could have managed to clinch the title, if they had just done something different in the final round, like maybe swap the characters. In my opinion, that would have the audience in splits, and crawling over each other to vote for the duo.

Ah, well, for every suggestion like this, if I had a penny, Bill and Melinda Gates would have some serious competition w.r.t. the Forbes list.

Now You Know What They Do With The Hair

Baldness and Hair Removal
Now you know what they do with the hair.

Among the advertisements in a prominent newspaper a few days ago, I found these two ads from the same establishment, side-by-side: One claiming to help you get rid of unwanted hair, and other claiming to help you cure baldness. I just put the two together in my weird mind.

Bloggers of the World, Run!

Or walk, hopscotch, or jump on your pogo-stick to work. Or do some boxing or aerobics after work, if that’s your style. Quick! Chop chop!

Because, famous bloggers are kicking the bucket due to heart diseases and other lifestyle ailments, at an alarming rate, and their obituaries are popping up like nasty pimples (links of some obits), all over the web. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that blogging is now only a few sneezes away from classified as a lifestyle disease.

Truth be told, they had to see this coming. After all, what do professional bloggers do? Just surf the net, write pieces from time to time, while eating slices of pizza, munching chips or sipping high-calorie sugar drinks, into the wee hours of the night. They really don’t need to step out of the house, and when they do, they end up at places like Starbucks, or other places where they kill you with their oily stuff, and if that wasn’t enough, microwave you with Wifi signals. You can’t be more unhealthy than this.

~

Apart from that, blogging, or just plain surfing is reaching proportions of a compulsive disorder. More so, when you have continuous feeds of information from multiple sources, they just replace your stream of consciousness. You just want to smoke the blog weed, all day long, and when you can’t, you are restless, trying to think up of stuff you can put on your blog. Everything that happens to you has to be on your blog, because everybody you know has to read about what you think, what you did.

You know who think like that? Ego-maniacs. That’s right. At the root of every blogging disorder, apparently, is a psychological disorder. And it gets reinforced once you are in the blogger network, caught in the game of trying to outdo one another.

~

As for me, blogging has taken a serious toll on my waistline. I need to get out of the house more often, and more importantly I am going to start work soon. I am going to make this a weekly affair, so that you have more time to read, and I have more time to write, and with the more time, I intend to get an offline life.

You, my fellow blogger and reader, in the meanwhile, work out the modalities on how you can get out of the house more often. Or buy insurance, and check the fine print for heart disease.

Phir dekhte hain hum agle hafte, isi channel par. Ting-tong.

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I am getting bored.