Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Another Transcript

You must be getting tired of reading chat logs, but, well, something new happens everyday... The video being referred to, was (webcam via msn) of a friend and her surroundings.

ME: well, the real [insert icon for heartbreak] happened two years before, so it was ok.
ME: however, seeing this video was... tough.
ME: tough, of the kind that you scratch the corner of your eye and suddenly discover some moisture there.
ME: and each time you wipe it away, it comes back. a small drop.
ME: anyway.

Maybe what I need, is 'closure' on many fronts, at many levels.

Especially after having been exposed to the nuances and insights of the concept in twentieth century philosophy.

Allusions and Dissimulations...

[ Stolen from ]

[after cleaning out Turkish's Safe]
Brick Top: 'e's been quite a busy bastard that Turkish.
Errol: I think you've let him get away with enough, Gov'nor
Brick Top: It'll get you in a lot of trouble thinking, Errol. I wouldn't do too much of it.

Neither should I. Not when they're falling off trees like apples, as if waiting to be the spirit of something new...

A term heard recently, that I'd like to dump inside a sack and throw off a bridge: "fine dining."

An Extract, from "On Being With Others"

Simon Glendinning, On Being With Others: Heidegger - Derrida - Wittgenstein, Routledge, London, 1998, pp. 84-85

"Closing Philosophy

... The most salient contrast to previous philosophy lies in [Wittgenstein and Derrida's] common refusal to accept that their work marks the 'apocalyptic' end of philosophy in the sense of a final completion or 'once and for all' achievement of a state of complete clarity that stands in need of no further (essential) supplementation... Moreover, both name the attempt to achieve such complete clarity 'philosophy'. Of course, it is not in the least peculiar to either Wittgenstein or Derrida to write of, and hence in some sense to write beyond, a tradition they are willing to call simply 'philosophy'. Indeed, no philosophy can really do otherwise. However, it is a recurrent feature of the history of philosophy that 'new' modes of thought (new 'signatures': Aristotelian, Cartesian, Humean, Kantian, Hegelian, Fregean etc.) have always positioned themselves in some way in a relation of final mastery over those discourses they claim to supercede. With each new stage in the history of philosophy a new claim is made to have found a new way of achieving complex clarity which brings philosophy to an end.

It is precisely in this respect that the kind of approach pursued by both Wittgenstein and Derrida constitutes a new 'kink' in the history of philosophy which separates their writings from previous Western thought. In contrast to the classical 'discourses of the end', the writings of Derrida and Wittgenstein effect what might be called a 'closure' of a tradition. Closure does not aim to bring a tradition or 'historical totality' to an end by fulfilling its aims. Indeed, it resists the assumption that it can ever 'end' in that sense. Rather, it aims to identify the basic structural figure which characterizes the tradition as such."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

NDSE2 Days

Tuning into: Pandora

This post, originally meant for musings around the idea of the gift, has been engulfed by memories from around fifteen years ago...

One of the many ways I might describe my childhood is of growing up and growing aware in the heydays and dusk of the Great Indian Socialist Experiment. My parents would often take me to (the ironicaly named) People's Publishing House. A by-product of the Rupee-Rouble machinations, this bookshop, always dank and badly illuminated - by candles during power cuts - was my main link to an outside, immense world.
Great titles were available for prices as low as five to thirty rupees. Fiction, Fantasy, Science, and often combinations of these three. Most of all, I remember People's Propaganda, whose most memorable example was a book titled "The Three Fat Men." Its villains lived off (and were ultimately deposed by) the lowly paid, hard working, heavily muscled, and ruggedly good looking workers, peasants, clockmakers and acrobats of the world.

Another recurring character/theme in these books was Baba Yaga, the evil witch who lived deep inside the forest, feasting on the hearts of lost travellers (?) Her hut stood atop two giant chicken legs, spinning round and round. You had to be real nice when you asked it to stop - those that got the old hag irritated were transformed into a tasty dinner. The clues she gave were cryptic, and were favours that needed reciprocation.

Some stories had an aged king sending his three sons to perform impossible deeds e.g. bring back the golden peacock or something. The eldest brother was always honest/noble etc while the middle guy was the wheeler dealer. They would zoom off together, leaving the youngest to his wits. But, being the most handsome, he would eventually win the heart of the fair, golden cheeked babushka, all while dodging death, and befriending many strange, magical animals (wolves, pike, geese, bears) during his adventures. But not without Baba Yaga's help.

(Resuming the thread of being linked or disconnected from the rest of the world...)

Of feeling strangely glorious in saying 'cosmonaut'; in consciously choosing to shun 'astronaut'. Of believing in the glorious achievements of science in the Soviet Union. In Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human in space on a day that was, by some strange coincidence, exactly twenty years before my being born.

Of sometimes, looking at a map of this part of the world, and thinking, "if it weren't for the extreme northern part of Afghanistan, that thin strip at the junction of Pakistan and China's tips, we would be touching and be connected to the USSR."

Haan, who did those cheeky no-good sonsabitches in Afghanistan think they were? And what were they doing, in denying a little boy his wish of seeing his country's orange colour next to the superpower's endless expance of green? When all this little boy wanted, was for both these colours to be with each other, lying on either side of the thick(er), black dotted line that denoted national boundaries.

Aah, the deconstructive possibilities of all this...

Not realizing (to think of it now) that only Western publications had nosy government officials leafing through them, leaving behind ugly, blurry blue stamps that read "This map does not accurately reflect the external boundaries of the Republic of India."

It was a strange existence. I think part of this (what might now be dubbed "hey superpower, show a little brother some love") was because of how isolated I was. No telephone (we got our connection seven years after applying for it) meant no contact, after school hours, with one bunch of friends. Strangely, the other bunch, the colony gang (which assumed I was ten, when I was actually six) was only composed of boys. Maybe girls didn't even exist in the vicinity of K block...

We were those kids you see almost everywhere, who are ALWAYS playing cricket (or running around, or cycling, or hiding and seeking) whether it's raining or freezing, whether it's morning or evening. Climbing onto roofs and crawling deep inside gutters (maybe that's why the girls were so distant) to retrieve all important and extremely precious tennis balls...

Later, amazed by CNN's nightscopes broadcasting hazy, green images of ack-ack above Baghdad during the Gulf War, we walked single file on walls, through five feet deep ditches (probably dug for telecom cables). The logic: the group's leader told us it was commando training (but, then, it was in his house that we gaped at CNN - my first encounter with cable tv.)

More on the stroll in Aurobindo Place, in the next post.

I want the works. I want the whole works. I want it now. Don't care how. ('I do, actually')

A few days ago, a visitor. A visitor by accident. Someone from the aforementioned list of extensions must've been checking their logs, and dropped by.

Is it true that nearly all good geeks check their referrer statistics with unfailing regularity? The tendency I'm alluding to, for the non-bloggers/domain-hosters reading this, is a bit like checking the email (accounts.)

Maybe having an always-on connection (and, sometimes, even while not having it) automatically contains within it the possibility of (amongst other things) propping up that POP3 monitor or Trillian plugin to a ten minute schedule of what is essentially network resource wastage.

To use it as an example (in whose vicinity everything lurches - questions of particularity, exemplarity etc.), all this, of course, can be taken to imply an essential emptiness at the 'heart' of technology... In my experience/reading, however, this is an emptiness distinct from the oft-used accusation of "nihilism!" More on that when I've read these books, if ever... (sigh.)

Various non-attempts, prior to this blog, were stymied by a very powerful tension. The elements and forces in this standoff were simplicity of management/maintenance, a(nother) desire for simplicity (in design), the urge to produce some mind+eye candy, and the problem of time/effort. These issues haven't disappeared ((can they ever?), but already, a handful of posts down, I'm feeling dissatisfied with Wordpress. No IP logging, for example. Not being able to incorporate some nifty tricks (like this menu.) Not knowing how to edit the template.


I'll be shifting to soon. Until then, a song to lighten the mood, is below.

Veruca Salt: Gooses! Geeses!
I want my geese to lay gold eggs for Easter
Mr. Salt: It will, sweetheart
Veruca: At least a hundred a day
Mr.Salt: Anything you say
Veruca:And by the way
Mr. Salt: What?
Veruca: I want a feast.
Mr. Salt: You ate before you came to the factory
Veruca: I want a bean feast!
Mr. Salt: Oh, one of those
Veruca: Cream buns and doughnuts and fruitcake with no nuts
So good you could go nuts
Mr. Salt: You can have all those things when you get home
Veruca: No, now!!
I want a ball
I want a party
Pink macaroons and a million balloons
And performing baboons and ...
Give it to me
Rrhh rhhh

I want the world
I want the whole world
I want to lock it all up in my pocket
It's my bar of chocolate
Give it to me

I want today
I want tomorrow
I want to wear 'em like braids in my hair
And I don't want to share 'em

I want a party with room fulls of laughter
Ten thousand tons of ice cream
And if I don't get the things I am after
I'm going to scream!

I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
And now
Don't care how
I want it now
Don't care how
I want it now

Exactly. Geese that lay gold eggs. Performing baboons.
But, most of all, I want a party with room fulls of laughter.
And ten thousand rums and ice creams...

More Firefox

(This post was begun a few days ago)

Yes, what follows might seem like an obsession with completely inane minutiae... But I like using the keyboard. So much, that the mid-summer attack of RSI in my left hand has only now receded, to a slight stiffness/numbness of the little finger.

Getting to the point(s)...

Coming back to those Firefox 'recommendations'... there's one extension I didn't mention: Copy Plain Text. Imagine this: you're browsing, and wanting to save a few paragraphs in Word, you perform the usual maneuvres. What used to happen in/to my computer's configuration (until this extension) was an extreme system slowdown (when in doubt, blame Microsoft.) An unmitigated waste of time, nonetheless.

I can almost hear you thinking, "So, this extension sounds great... and what else is new?"

"Shaant gada-dhaari bheem shaant

See, when you need to copy text, you need to copy it, not have to wait for it to happen. Or notice that it didn't, interrupt the workflow and trains of thoughts, and see what went wrong. Or wait for the computer to unclog itself.

Here's the low down: its inbuilt conflict over Firefox' default accesskey for "open in a new tab". While it seems like an issue the (original) developer didn't anticipate, the problem contained enough concrete clues to solve the situation. Like, being able to email (instead of having to amble around at a corporate website, hoping their support staff find the query is important) the extension's developer/maintainer, who replied far sooner than expected. He even attached a modified installation package (just 5kb!) to his email, and offered to explain how to do it myself, if I wanted something other than 'X' (which he had coded in.)

As great as that was, even better was being able to (before his response came) plunge fearlessly into the program's files, and, after a bit of scanning, locate this line:

<popup id="contentAreaContextMenu">
label="Copy as Plain Text"
oncommand="copyplaintext()" />
<!-- Context Menu -->

(I'm now using "Y".) Before you consign this post to "inane obsession with minutiae", how about reorienting the thought processes, along these two ideas: 1. How great is it to (be able to) do (in my case, something as small as) this? 2. In the larger context, to not be stuck with what someone else thought you should/must stay with?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

As always, DIY is the way to go.

This chat session, whose essentials are being posted below, took place last night. Its participants: a friend I'll refer to as Dada Tango (a.ka. DT), and me.

DT: turquoise cottage chalna hai?
ME: tonight? media night?
DT: correct
ME: hmm...
DT: khaali hota hai lekin aajkal
ME: how so?
DT: entry charge hai. recoverable at the bar. 500
ME: 500 per person?????????
DT: couple if you can get a girl with you
DT: and free if you got a media card
ME: what's a media card?
DT: visiting card from a media company
ME: so how did all those bacchas, those underage brats we saw last time, have a media card?
ME: this media card, i bet it can be printed on a home laser...
DT: they didn't. last time we went, there wasn't any cover
charge. only 'couple entry'
ME: meaning fake ID....
DT: i've printed mine at home
DT: fake id is correct
DT: but mine is genuine
ME: hmm.... i should make one...
DT: saatchi and saatchi ka card use kiya tha wahan bahaut
ME: and this card is a visiting card type of thing?
DT: not a card like a card. just a visiting card
ME: i think for/if next time i should print my own visiting card.
ME: tu jaa yaar aaj raat... some other time for me...
ME: but thanks for giving me an insight into this card scam...
DT: ;-)
ME: brb
DT: gotta go son
DT: talk to ya later
ME: bye


Systems, being what they are, necessarily contain the portends of atleast two types of confrontations. The first has famously been named the Anomaly. The second, humorously exposed by a quip in 'Snatch', is the issue of predictability, often accompanied by a single-minded desire for it. So, if I ever mention being at TC, you'll know how the bouncers were conned.


Then, this morning's installment:

ME: kal kaafi dhamaal kara TC mein?
DT: khoob
DT: pehle 2 gin at mb's. then 2 whiskeys at home. then 6 whiskeys at tc + two joints.
ME: how come they don't discourage weed at TC?
DT: they do of course... but i'm smart;)


The internet has completely changed what distance means, take it from me...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Interrupting our regular broadcasts...

By popular agreement (her's, to my suggestion), "Calvin" is being renamed, and will, here-on-after, be referred to, as BradAttitude.

Monday, November 21, 2005

'Bettering' Firefox

A quick list, of some really useful Firefox extensions:

1. AutoCopy
2. PDF Download
3. Bugmenot
4. Gmail Notifier
5. Duplicate Tab
Read more »

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An Extract, from 'Of Hospitality'

Anne Dufourmantelle, “Invitation”, in Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2000, pp. 106-110

“The seductiveness (and scientific validity) of technologies dedicated to the elimination of suffering, the improvement of existence, are the same as those that now closely accompany, for instance, all the stages of a pregnancy, with the risk of making the womb into an entirely ‘divulged’ space, open to every kin of examination, a ‘public place’ that medicine take charges of. And it is the same with death: to die at home becomes so unacceptable that you have to incur serious gaps in medical services if yuo want to stay alone with the dying person, with no other ‘witnesses’ than those closest to him or her. My point of view is not an ethical one, but that of a strange topology or topography that expels from ‘home’ the most intimate, most secret moments of existence. In the refusal of death and birth, exiled far from their dwelling place, confiscated by the medical establishment, there is the denial of the transition. You are dispossessed of what indeed does not belong to you, for that is the place of the highest rish. What you do not possess and what obsesses you are perhaps one and the same thing; many of the men and women who create, plan and expect babies know this.” (emphasis mine)

This section stood out for me, (also) in the context of two different discussions with friends, about how most people today are defined by their possessions…

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Starting Off...

As the phone call came at that stage of the evening when one is not expected to make the emergency appearance “later in the day”, things were good.
“My computer isn’t working. I start it, and after ‘loading windows’, all I see is a blank screen. Blue. I don’t know what to do :-(”

“Don’t worry… Maybe it’s just a small problem that you can describe to me over the phone…”

This was two or three nights ago, instantly reminded me of this bash. Of course, I had made a similar phone call many years ago (we all have), to (someone who shall, from now on, be referred to as) Addy. I had joined a new school, we had magically become good friends (despite it becoming apparent two years later, they he/they all were the ‘in crowd’), and, his mum had bought him a 386-DX2 running Windows 3.1. Mine, supplied by the Vilayati Chacha, had 2mb RAM, and a stacker’ed 80mb hard disk. A Mitac 386 Laptop, a generic Taiwanese manufacture - maybe the company it still exists, churning out crap by the millions of units - which people like my VC (but, he wishes he was) get for budding geek nieces and nephews.. But that’s another post, another digression.

Anyway, my first panic-call was caused by inadvertently deleting (by mistake!) one of the most important icons in the Windows 3.1 Control Panel. Addy was a been-there-done-that (He still is. Can people ever change? The Ph.D question.) and was able to provide the cure. A simple two-step operation. Hence earning my eternal gratitude. Or, something like it, for six years of it, anyway - which is eternity when you’re 13 (and i’m almost 25 now)

But, back then, I was the little boy, bawling. Thinking I’d get whacked by my father.

Cutting to the present-now-past (maybe I’ll try to post on - when I’ve understood it more - the distinctions between the traditional/classical and poststructuralist understandings of time.) The malware responsible for hijacking this family-friend’s system was somehow painting the whole screen blue, and obscuring/denying the desktop. Understanding the symptoms took a while, because she didn’t even know is she was using Windows 98 or XP :-( The “I’m free tomorrow, mid-morning… Why don’t I drop by? I’ll can catch a ride with my father, since he’ll be on his way to xyz” followed soon thereafter. Reluctantly.

Which brings me to the problem of this first-post-after-many-years. A lot has changed, a lot hasn’t. It seems more and more evident that this first post, both is, and is not, an inaugural gesture. Thus associating itself with the attendant problems. Of beginnings not being what they are. Just continuations. Aletheia, in a way. I mean, I want to do/write so much. What’s already been clacked out is: One small transcript. Two suggested links-to-visit. One memory of a now-distant friend. One family reference (might be invoked again someday.) Details of a past laced with some computing. Of a youth maybe wasted in computing. And, most desperately (?), an allusion to hopes for a/the future. All while not getting to the point, the story, of this post.

The visit to these family friends was interesting for the many things it allowed me to think, and what i was drawn into. The turning point, maybe was when a renewed surge of curiousity about the upper floors in their duplex made me ask “what were those toys you would give me, to play with, when I came here as a child?”
(And, can I have them again, because I’m getting bored? Of trying to explain how some virii work, how firewalls help, and why ZASS is such a good program, because it combines both.)

Reader, if you download ZA, I’ll happily pass on some top-secret info that will enrich your experience of it. This info won’t enrich the company, ZoneLabs, or add a dubbulli to their cashflow. <—- See, I’ve already thrown in some of that good ol’ incentive, to those one or two people who *might* stumble across my page, to maybe bring them back. :-( Shamefaced bribery, but write in, atleast.

[Continuing our stories]

But upstairs was very private, and, (have I mentioned this before?) I had been curious about it. What kinds of boxes were the toys stored in? What did the cupboards that contained these boxes look like? She laughed, and talked about trains, lego and stuffed animals. About how these toys helped children, stopped her from being, in their thoughts, a Doctor, and turned her into an Aunty, changing the encounter from a visit to a doctor, into one of greeting a parent’s friend. That’s important, as she’s a child psychologist.

I once read somewhere about what fear (not ph33r) is to children. Seeing them cry is to witness their torment, in face of the end of the(ir) entire world. What this thought brings up is the portrayal of 11 year old Nancy in Sin City, as excellent visual image of how scared children can get, of what fear can be for them. If you’re as scared of Doctors-who-gave-injections-in-the-Butt-tocks as I used to be (and stopped being, six years ago), then ‘doctors’ who dealt with the mind/psyche seem even more terrifying. But, already, that’s the overanalyzing :-( 24 year old in me rambling.

A switch seemed flipped - the toys, and the plans for a Hyde-to-Jekyll transformation got me thinking: maybe my own mum had taken me for a session. Not to think of that as a ‘betrayal’, but something unexplainable and unremembered Didn’t/haven’t ask/ed her/them about it… Maybe my parents saw the future, and recognized the symptoms of troubled-’enngg’-man (”enngg” is how our English teacher in 4th or 5th would pronounce “young” - we were at a real loss the first two days.)

To end the ‘I came, I saw, I was able to solve’ part of this post… Was able to disinfect, inoculate, and subsequently, vaccinate their computer. What should’ve taken one hour took four, because every click, install and reboot had to be minutely, and simply explained. Apart from lunch interrupting work.

[So, on to some more substance for this post.] As we left, for me to get dropped to a friend’s place, and were walking to her car, she asked, “started driving yet?”

[Maybe my parents still consult her *shudder* ]

Explaining why I don’t drive (but choosing to avoid mentioning laziness), I described on how tense I feel in cars. Not driving, and thus being a passenger, means not being “in control of the situation.” What might actually be a harmless overtake or someone non-dangerously cutting across us seems to me fraught with grave danger…. Pile ups. (Non Hindi film style) blood-smeared and bandaged-swathed heads. Severed limbs. Or, lying on the side of a road, a reddened foot sticking out from under a white shroud. A crowd gathered around, holding their hands, new comers curious and craning their necks, asking “kya hua?” PCR vans screaming their sirens, and people magically breaking traffic rules, jumping the light, like the biblical waters parting, allowing it a way through rush hour traffic, shaving a few seconds or minutes off from the time it will take to get the injured to a doctor. Of how FartBoy (it’s a rearrangement of “fratboy.” Clever, na? If only he knew) and Calvin (I wanted to name her B.I.T.C.H - which can stand for (as I learnt recently) “ B eing I n T otal C ontrol, H oney”, but she’s almost my second oldest friend.) Uh. Of how FartBoy and Calvin had accidents, which each caused the death-in-the-back-seat-or-hospital.


‘Tension’ led to mentioning stress and worries about work; and, if I don’t write this post quicky, my head will start throbbing, because nearly half the day is over, and my grand plans - of what to read, think about, and write - are in ruins again. Very innocuously, she asked if those accidents were the roots of my deep seated fear of driving. I mentioned how extreme stress makes me sleep-walk and sleep-talk. And I spoke, as if I was outside my body, while watching myself babbling. Knowing not what we were headed towards, but knowing where we already were i.e. me talking to a psychologist, (obviously) being analyzed.

Eventually, she pointed out that one essential aspect of her work was being able to keep one’s own prejudices away. (Oh Gadamer, where art thou? And Heidegger, even, but a little less so.) Of how a psychologist can’t ‘teach’, but must allow (or, make possible) learning… And a promise, of a longer chat, some other time…

More, in another post, if I am able to connect the dots.
As this feels like a first post (despite being, officially, the second), a couple of shout outs (similar to the type seen in .nfo files are in order.) First, my rediscovery of Loobylu ., via she-who-shall-not-be-linked-(yet.) Loobylu’s illustrations are… well, see for yourself! Second, Saima, who I once collablogged with, and to whom I inanenly suggested “but Lahore and Amritsar are so close!” Please please (powerpuff girls style) drop me a line, Sai, even if it’s just ‘hi’, and bestow some good wishes. (I’ll start the process by clicking the link to reach your site - my IP starts with 61.16 - hoping you’ll know somehow, when/if you check server logs.)

Ugh, the desperations of a new blog

Hello world!

I'm blogging again, after three or four years. Worse, wordpress' defaults and the false cheer they try to infect me with remind me of something very different (but not distant)