Friday, December 30, 2005

[Is it?] The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year....

[No I haven't forgotten about this blog... just stopped checking the referral and visitor stats, and logging into Blogger. Imagine my surprise on seeing two two week old drafts lying there, waiting to cross over the space beyond the 'publish post' button...]

*The title refers to and reminds me of a song from the film, "Home Alone 2"...*

A strange realization... Maybe explaining it requires I characterize this post, this as-yet-incomplete, as-yet-barely-begun post, as a space, As I stumble around an empty space

Now grooving to: John Powell, "Moscow Wind Up" (Bourne Supremacy OST.)

Recently... not much to write up/on about, except a sudden rash, in the past week, of some partying, some socializing, some thinking, and some (what alcoholics call) "moments of clarity"; much drinking, much reading, many friends and lots of family. But it's best to leave the detailed reflections on most of these events and phenomena until another time.

The aforementioned revelry and excess... BradAttitude, mentioned early during the life of this blog and (let's call her) HunterWali went from being x years old, to x+1. Good cheer and much love were all around, especially after several rounds of drinks, extended bitching sessions, glazed "woah, having a tough time keeping my eyes open" conversations, and varied insights into the working of some men and women's minds.

The end result... Ever got back home so sloshed that you collapsed into bed, shoes still on? All while commanding and struggling with one's fingers and mind to coordinate the composition of an SMS? Most of these read "i'm ok, got home fine, had a really wonderful time, thanks for having me there." But better, they felt accompanied by a context - aura, even - of a fuzzy goodness and warmth, a sincerity and feeling.

Since I've mentioned the phrase "hunter wali" (perceptions of whom have shifted considerably in the past week), here's something really funny that google dragged up:
The film begins with an elderly white-wigged sage riding along on his cart accompanied by his demure niece along the dusty unpaved roads connecting the Pinds of rural Punjab. As they approach Nurpur pind (Nurpur is to Punjab as Main Street is to America) they find their path obstructed by an unkempt looking bed lying in the middle of the road. It ought to be kept in mind that this bed (the manjhee) within the realm of this fascinating culture is akin to male dogs territorial pissing in that it is a distinct mark of a territorial zone. Just as a dog attempts to spread its piss all over the place and thus mark out what he considers to be his domain, the village Chaudhary also marks out the boundaries of his turf by plonking his Manjhee at a specific spot as a mark of his identity and ownership. Thus when the old fogey asks four rather intimidating and well paunched goons to consider moving the manjhee out of the way, it is taken as an affront of the most humiliating kind.

The fogey reminds the goons that he did ask them politely, but the goons are adamant and refuse to let the oldie pass unless he hand over his daughter to them in exchange! The oldie loses his shirt and is subsequently thrashed to a pulp by the fat goons. Meanwhile at the fogey's home, the adoring parents of Umri (Sultan Rahi) are deriving utmost delight at the sheer brilliance of their son. The dashing Umri is demonstrating to his cooing parents how he can easily tame the most obstinate horse with the sheer powers of his pure masculinity. A proud father tells Umri about how it is his wish that he tame the famous Hunterwali's notoriously unruly horse - a horse that has never been controlled by a mere mortal and who the Hunterwali's super wealthy father has offered massive rewards for taming. Rahi mocks the task as being too easy for someone of his mighty talents but he is interrupted by the arrival of his sister who has returned without a duputta on her head - never a good omen. She recounts the tale of the manjhee and of the goons who thrashed poor old cha cha ji to a pulp. Moments later Umri is off on his freshly tamed horse………to teach the goons of Nurpur Pind a lesson they will never forget. Meanwhile he also sets his sights on taming the Hunterwali's horse and maybe even the Hunterwali herself!

This is the scintillating premise of the film which brings together the same old tried and tested (stale and worn out?) team of Sultan Rahi, Anjuman and Mustafa Qureshi for the zillionth time. The grand Raja (Talish) of a neighbouring village and the father of the infamous Hunterwali challenges all comers to try to ride Hunterwali's wild horse Moti but naturally no one can dare to try to achieve the impossible. However just as it looks as though another annual Mela will draw to its boring conclusion, Umri arrives to take up the challenge and duly conquers Moti much to the disgust of the Hunterwali. Raja Sahab had promised the man who tamed Moti any thing he asked for but when Umri asks for his daughter Baali the Hunterwali's hand, he is more than a little taken aback. However, being the town figurehead he has to keep his word and is about to force poor Baali to marry Umri when fate intervenes. Umri is attacked by the goons who had tried to rape his sister and ends up killing the lot of them. Word spreads that Umri is a murderer and this gives Raja sahab the chance to get off the hook by calling off the wedding to his daughter Baali.
Read the rest - but be careful: the plot has multiple characters, and memorable twists and turns ;-)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Surf'd down

On visiting one of my favourite comic sites, I re-re-re-realized that a strange bug/issue prevents me from sending it to friends, as an e-card. So, instead of pointing just one or two people to it, here's something better, the comic itself! (for the benefit of the three to four people who regularly visit this site ;-)

To see many more, go here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

An Extract, from 'The Sense of the World'

Jean Luc Nancy, The Sense of the World, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1998, p. 89.
"What one calls 'totalitarianism' is the complete presentation of a sense in truth: myth, that is, but myth as reality, without the differance of its narrative. It is the immediate being-there or immanence of myth. In the fascist version, truth is the life of the community, in the Nazy version, truth is the conflaguration of the people, and in the communist version, truth is humanity creating itself as humanity. Life, fire, creation: three figures of completed sense, signifying itself and abanding itself without remainder in its signiied, that is, in its referent - for truth here is a concrete punchturation. On this account, politics must be destiny, must have history as its career, sovereignity as its emblem, and sacrifice as its access."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


now GROOVING to: Goa Trance, Volume 2, 2005

[This post should bear the title " 'Standing outside, Looking in' or 'Thoughts on how to rob an ATM' "]

Despatched a few days ago to mop up some pending work, I was reminiscing about the incredible relief if felt, when my banking practices shifting from visiting a branch, to interacting with ATM's. Strangely, for about three years (during college? <-- extremely unfocussed and confused times), nearly every encounter with the bank branch's employees ended in me getting a scolding, from the cashier, clerk or manager. Here's a brief sample of what they used to say:
  • "Why didn't you write the date?"
  • "The date you've written is wrong."
  • "This signature doesn't match with our records."
  • "if it doesn't match our records, how can we confirm that you are you?"
  • "No, don't use that form"
  • "It says right there on the form what you need to fill out."
  • "Haven't you ever been to a bank before?" (translation: didn't your parents teach you anything?" (this was the worst.)
I guess banks were a big black hole - not only would they suck me in, but also drain any ability to concentrate, think, and coordinate. But sometimes, these people really made me wonder. (Apart from (about) what I was or was not taught) how it was that someone couldn't take a minute to calmly explain "the needful"? A few patient and gentle words would've really helped.

ATMs, in this way, are a bit like that shaving-blade ad from 1992 ("no jhanjhat, sutaa sutt") for me. Easy and convenient, and in my case, fast too, since there's an alternate location within two minutes of the primary source, and that helps in avoiding lines.

(Isn't it strange that India might be the only place where, magically, lines form even at ATMs? I wouldn't know, as what I know isn't 'India', just a miniscule swath which can be called by that name.)

Fast, easy and convenient. Until this evening.

To cut a long story short, I was unsure of how much I'd keyed in for withdrawal, and began a count. The seconds that procedure took up were also the ones during which the machine expected to be excised of the card. Unaware of this machine's peculiarities (I was operating mum's card - given by a different bank - not my own) and busy with counting, something suddenly felt amiss.

Ever had that moment when you feel you've deleted an entire partition on your hard disk by mistake? That's what this one felt like. Blood rushed into the head and made my ears burn when I realized that the card had been swallowed by the machine.

A newspaper article a few months ago warned of a trick whereby a crook stuck some cello-tape into the machine using his own card in such a way that the next user's card was adhesived. The scam goes like this: pretending to be a good samaritan, the crook approaches the person whose card has gone missing, and volunteers assistance. Whatever the exact methodology, the expected outcome was social-engineering the victim into revealing their secret code, and, later, retrieving the victim's card. I know, these details are scanty, not because I want to prevent crimes from being committed, but due to the feeble set of memories I'm drawing on.

First thoughts when the card refused to manifest itself... Maybe the person who used the machine before me, a woman who said a very cheery thank-you as she left (thankful, maybe/hopefully, for not having to spend a few minutes in the cold while I used the machine) was pulling the cello-tape stunt. Remembering that she was accompanied by an eight year old dispelled this moment of paranoia.

Panicky and aggravated, and fortunate that the (physical bank) branch just a few steps away, I went and spoke with Bank Manager saheb, who said go speak with a certain Mr. J. Now this guy was obviously more interested in chatting up a female colleague, and gave the formulaic "Sorry, Come tomorrow" (i.e. fuck off). And "you must've been counting your mo and not paying attention to the machine! You are supposed to take the card out as soon as it is ejected!"

This crap continued until I lied and told that Bank Manager saheb said he had the keys for the machine and would help retrieve the card. The "let me see" was followed by a minute of papers being handled noisily. When the key was found, the aforementioned female colleague enquired about the cardholder's name (my mum) and gave a "
What do you people think? How can we do this?"

Quite a few thoughts trickled into my mind as I watched her retrieve the missing card. Only, this wasn't the kind of idle dreaming or cloud talk that afflicts people after watching action movies.. This was, well, the sprouting of an idea...

How easy would it be (or would it?) to, well, rob the ATM in a situation like this?

Here's a list of the requirements I made.
  • Social engineering skills, for convincing them into helping the inconvenienced customer.
  • A generic and trustworthy appearance (but doesn't that come under bullet #1?)
  • Lookouts, when you surprise the lady who's opened the machine.
  • Mode of getaway, err.. to get away.
Sounds simple, doesn't it?

What's interesting is that each item seems to contain within itself the seeds of its own destruction too (or maybe it comes out that way because of how I'm writing this post. ;-)

1. Social engineering skills - they always help. But the fact that this approach has been chosen leads one straight to two very big hurdles.

2. i.e. while the time chosen isn't when the ATM is being refilled (as that period is normally policed by atleast two to three gut busting ex-servicemen who carry double barrel shotguns), social engineering means atleast three to four people are encountered, all of whom will remember something about you. So unless you can wipe people's memories and the video-recordings from the hidden camera inside the ATM room, there's a big problem. Or become invisible, like Bond's Aston Martin. Or something.

3. Lookouts who take care of business, while you're taking care of business. But then, doesn't the very fact that people (who want to use the ATM) might have to distracted, lied to, or turned away while you get past the lady with the key and the mounds of cash, mean a set of problems that rule out this whole approach?

4. Getting away... Doesn't Jay Leno always say his favourite criminals are the stupid ones? One of their type was arrested recently, and it came in the news. Seems he didn't realize was that all the police did was to follow his footsteps to his home - he had left prints left in the snow.

Let's concoct a similar stupid crook scenario: the ATM I'm talking about is located in a busy market. The time: evening. So, what's worse than being stuck in a traffic jam? Getting stuck, after "pulling a job", and getting caught.

[Insert obligatory public relations / child safety note here (which should've been scrolling across your screen, like on tv.]


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Picking up a thread - 1

[This episode will be an attempt to carry onwards, in an irruptive manner, from and with, a phrase barely mentioned a few posts ago...]

As someone who grew up in the 80's, it's easy to say that the broad pattern in which I remember doing certain things isn't something alien to some/other kids of that time, and those days. Of course, this conclusion can only be drawn on the basis of some I know, few I like/enjoy/love, and even fewer with whom I can share...

Most specifically, the complicated movements being undertaken to begin this post point to one set of experiences whose resonance, as fond memories, I've sometimes uncovered amongst others my age. Much has been written and will continue to be, on that near-ritual: watching TV on sunday mornings. And, in a way, the writing of this phenomena is in greatest proximity and alliance with the extract from Illuminations about childhood, collection and the materiality of the world, and the feelings invoked by the Bravia Ad.

To begin (again? but haven't I begun already? (If yes and/or no,) where am I right now?) ... A few posts ago, I mentioned and barely lingered on the theme that 'at age 3, I had ideas of wanting to become a Sikh militant.'

It the 80's, and Doordarshan (tr. "a medium that bridges distances; bringing from afar, into proximity") was the metaphysical and technological heir of Akashvani (tr. "the voice, words, wisdom of and from the sky.")

[ Remember, this was less than a decade after the Emergency and All Indira Radio, and barely into the 80's. The Glorious and Brave 80's, when the Government applauded the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. When our own desi GOP continued to screw the country even more. One of the main side-effects of this shortsightedness and mindless bumbling the onset of another set of long, bloody, and almost unsolvable insurgencies (Punjab, Kashmir, Assam, amongst others.) Yes, the Mizo Accord was groundbreaking, but still...

Interestingly, the 80's were also when quite a bunch of 'young turks' began to establish themselves. Some of them were part of Old Boy networks, "young, energetic and enthusiastic" - the Congress' 'good people' who entered politics ('praise tha lawd!'), giving up cushy positions in industry, bureaucracy, and even returning from ze phorein lands. For 'scratch my back and I'll scratch your ass' positions in and around government. [The person(a) depicted by Shiney Ahuja's character in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi offers an interesting preview/comparison: young, connected, emerging from traditional privilege Enablers, Fixers.

Many from this 'batch' - not necessarily only composed of the type Shiney Ahuja played -are now very powerful politicos (in charge of Agriculture, Petroleum, J&K, Bihar, to give a few examples.)

Most importantly, most were Post-Sanjay. Its not as if His Gangsterness' cronies never went away. All they did was sing another set of paeans. To Mother India and her Youthful Dashing, Pilot of a Son, soon to be crowned. (The phenomenon of piloting suddenly reminds me of Derrida's 'The Other Heading'. Hmm :-)

In a way, the 80's was when India was sought to be dreamt and imagined again. Maybe, the 80's was a time of crisis, in a way far different from the 70's. ]

</end enormous aside>

"A Sikh militant? What the fuck (is wrong with you) ?"


Unlike those who only saw the cartoons ('He Man - Master of the Universe!', Spider Man, Tom & Jerry, G.I. Joe etc etc etc) I think I would get up earlier than usual, and in addition to watching the aforementioned 'toons, also tune into what was broadcast before 9am. Krishi Darshan, with its standard opening line of "kisaan bhaiyon ko hamaara namaste" (sic) (tr. 'our greetings to our brothers who farm the land') was an absolute bore.

But prior to that, the 8am slot, was reserved for Gurbani (tr. words of wisdom of the gurus.) I'm now reminded by the parents that I'd kneel and bow my head to the televised image of the Guru Granth Sahib, as it was televised on our black and white Uptron (which, incredibly, had shutters!) How I'd rage about what the Army was doing in Punjab on the behest of Indira Gandhi. How revenge and violence were the only ways forward/left, after
what had been done to the Golden Temple and Bhindranwale.

This was 1984-5, at age 3-4...

In the context of these memories, it was interesting to read portions of Harmandeep's site and blog - particularly, this post - recently. Additionally, his account of a bike ride to Goa rejuvenated many fading details of my own trip to those parts of the country, in late August and early September this year.As always, I don't recall how I reached any of these pages, but then, that's the net for you.

(via) Now grooving to: Deep Space (1.65mb), Driving Me Crazy (2.81mb), Acid Peak (1.56mb), and Kangna (remix) (1.5mb)

Monday, December 19, 2005


Until a few days ago, my favourite advertisement on TV was the one for Motorola's RAZR V3 phone. Funnily enough, they're retailing this phone here for about one third of the price it initially splashed down at.

A woman, obviously smart and successful (as is sought to be symbolized by her immediate living environment) has the RAZR. The process begins from near the phone, and with great rapidity, her entire home starts to fold up into itself, leaving behind whitespace in the midst of the disintegration-without-chaos. Stepping up and away from these parallel processes of dematerialization, she watches nonchalantly (a big clue, probably, as to the values projected for a humanity comfortable with the speed of technology) as all her belongings, markers and surroundings vanish. It's hard to resist the urge, but the logic behind this ad can easily be interpreted as aufhebung (releve?) because soon the void contains just three entities: the woman, the phone, and the void itself. Picking the instrument up as it rings, completely at ease with the (de)compression that just occurred, she smiles - the first show of emotion? - on hearing a familiar voice on the other end. In other words, a very cleverly made ad and one that made me pay attention each time I caught the broadcast.

But, as of today, we have a new number one: Bravia. Here's what the website says:
"Set to the stripped-down acoustic soundtrack of José González' "Heartbeats", 250,000 'superballs' come flying, in slow motion, over the brow of a typical street in San Francisco, raining down on anything that gets in their way... [all] done without computer graphics."

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

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Get the entire movie here - 54mb. The experiences, emotions and wonderment, when watching the ad the first time, are indescribable...

Meanwhile, staying with the theme of design and the sublime... Pomegranita, whose creator I was in contact with, during my previous (blog) avataar/innings.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

One of those cricket rants

Another mind-colonizing controversy erupted last week - one so insidious, that the stream of rhetoric flew in its aftermath that even repeating its name is putting off: The Dropping of Saurav Ganguly (all puns and allusions intended.)

You've heard this before. Sneered at the statistics, wondered what doddering old men were getting so worked up about, and muttered a few obscenities if caught in a traffic jam caused by His Dadaness' crazed followers. Muttered, because 'Dada' is the reigning deity in Calcutta. Muttered, not uttered, because despite the spin Austin, Habermas or whoever put to the idea. Ideal speech, bah.

But what surprised me most was one particular element of the "let me do my part to reinstate a great cricketer by venting on TV so that the ignorant selectors know that the power is with the people" circus that was broadcast on the airwaves. And it was (hold your breath), in the words of one supporter, "As a Bengali [insert anxious pause] I feel he shouldn't have been dropped. It is an injustice." (sic)

[It's hard not to enter into laborious and acrimonious debates on the relationship between the particular and the universal, 'what is a thing' etc etc.]

The catchy part of such statements was "As a Bengali." Politician after politician, and even hallowed (or, 'hollowed'?) parliamentarians were crawling out of the woodwork, out of their heated rooms, and launching into inanities like, "this is an insult to/of Bengal."

Just fucking back the truck up.

How exactly did Bengal get insulted? No one posted a letter to it... Or spat on it... Or sat on it... Wait, here's the answer, Bengal-as-spirit was kicked right in the goolies.

As spirit? The extent to which these people are metaphysically challenged amazes me. "Insult to Bengal"? How, an insult, and how, this conclusion? I'll tell you... through the logic of identification, which these people take to be the logic of identity. They identify with him, not because they wish they were him, but because they think they are or can be him.

From personal experience (i.e. one very crazy and psychotic grandparent, amongst other similarly psychotic relatives) I've learnt that those who habitually buy tickets on the Insult Express: a) are pathetic fools, (but isn't everyone?) b) have unresolved existential issues, (but doesn't everyone?) c) this existential anxiety they are riven by keeps them from being able to examine their situations. This is (say in a Chris Rock voice) "the worst thing about" them.
"If ever a man was hoist by his own petard, it is Sourav Ganguly. All this talk of his being forced out of the team due to ‘politics’ is both ironical and hypocritical as it was the self-same BCCI politics that saw him push his way back into the current Test series in the first place.

Going by his form over the past 18 months and the poor results of the Indian side under his captaincy in the same period, Ganguly owed his place solely to the fact that his benefactor Jagmohan Dalmiya was ruling Indian cricket. For his backers now to cry hoarse about his victimization under the new dispensation that has taken over the Board therefore smacks of double-standards."

Read the rest, here
The bugger's performance (batting, bowling AND fielding), and attitude did him in. Notice this: the really good players persevere, by correcting their mistakes/flaws and minimizing the imbalances in their game. Dravid might have once said, "on the off-side, there's God, and then there's Saurav." However, anyone who's seen Ganguly giving himself the middle finger when a ball was pitched short, or delivered on the leg side, can tell that that Dada Dearest just wasn't able to (or didn't care to?) change.

So, enough of this bullshit, about "insult to Bengal."

Maybe the person who really needs to get fired is Navjot Sidhu, NDTV's in-house expert. Why? Cramming witty retorts does take as much effort as timing their delivery. Often, it makes for - or can be interpreted as - 'good TV'. But practically denying other speakers a change to express themselves? Maybe he's mistaken his job profile for trying to score brownie points with the chat show anchors...

Will the nightmares never end?
Srinagar, November 17: "When Nazir Ahmad Wani finally returned home, enveloped in a blood soaked blanket, a dozen men encircled the body as they placed it in the compound.

Then they hurried to bring dignity to the corpse, by tying the pieces together with white gauze.

Nazir had left for office in the morning. After five hours of searching, his nephew found him in the police mortuary. His eyes and the wedding ring on his finger were his only identification.

Like dozens others, Nazir's journey reached an end, outside the entrance of J-K Bank's corporate office at 10.08 am.

Within a fraction of seconds, he was blown up into pieces. A lone militant drove an explosive laden car, parked it on the edge of the road, exploding it within a minute. The bomb shrapnels killed three others, including a bank guard and wounded more than 50, making it a third day of death and mayhem in this uptown stretch of Srinagar city.

"My son. My son. Why am I alive to see this day?" wailed Nazir's 80-year-old father Abdul Ahad Wani. His snow-white beard soaked with his tears, as he sat alone in a corner. "He is my only son. I didn't even say good-bye to him in the morning. I didn't know he was leaving for ever." "
I haven't read an article as moving as this in a long time. :-(

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Not here, not now...

Now grooving to: Armin van Buuren, Shivers <-- get stub (link will work for 21 days.)

This thought struck, during one of my bi-weekly visits to BoingBoing. The dithering, while keying the domain into the location bar, was from imagining two contingencies - what if the website was a collection 1) of all wonderful things Bengali? or 2) of all accessories narcotic?

Turns out BongBong does exist... Just one problem though: I haven't been able to figure out what it's about.

Check out Jibjab's latest offering: a(nother) GWBush parody. As if being spectators to daily episodes of The Emperor's New Clothes wasn't enough...

(via ISP) Gabriel García Márquez on writing:
When you were young and had to earn your living at other jobs, you used to write at night and you smoked a lot.
Forty cigarettes a day.

And now?
Now I don't smoke and I only work during the day.

In the morning.
From nine o'clock to three in the afternoon in a quiet, well-heated room. Voices and the cold distract me.


I believe writers are always alone, like shipwrecked sailors in the middle of the ocean. It's the loneliest profession in the world. No one can help you write what you are writing.

Where do you think is the ideal place to write?
I've said this often before: a desert island in the morning and a big city at night. In the morning I need silence, and in the evening a few drinks and some good friends to chat to. I need to be in constant contact with people in the street and know what's going on in the world. This all fits in with what William Faulkner meant when he said'the perfect place for a writer was a brothel, because it's very quiet in the morning but there's partying every night.
Read the rest, here.

[What follows can (also) be understood as partially emerging from interpretations of an essay by Walter Benjamin (The Work Of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction) which I read, and was wowed by, recently.]

I wish I had it in me to be creative enough to whip up a card, a poem, photo, an image - in short, something special and singular i.e. a singularity (Finally! To be able to understand and use that word!) - when overtaken by the urge to give and gift. (As a set of ideas, that problem is best tackled elsewhere) but a recent set of experiences (of gift-giving and the googling prior to it) made other worldly patterns much clearer.

Companies - no, all entities, even - try to project a certain image of themselves. This identificatory device exists in a curious relation to others in the vicinity etc. The positioning of brands, as anyone who's ever watched NDTV or CNBC knows, is crucial. Have a look at FabIndia: the care and choice of models made many unsaid things very evident to me, if only for a moment...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Extracts from "Illuminations"

Now grooving with: Dj Tiesto, In My Memory <-- get stub
Note: Link valid only for 21 days.

Hannah Arendt, "Introduction", in Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, tr. Harry Zorn, Pimlico, London, 1999.
(pp. 31-32)
"Moreover, in his attitude to financial problems Benjamin was by no means an isolated case. If anything, his outlook was typical of an entire generation of German-Jewish intellectuals, although no one else fared so badly with it. Its basis was the mentality of the fathers, successful businessmen who did not think too highly of their own achievements and whose dream it was that their sons were destined for higher things. It was the secularized version of the ancient Jewish belief that those who 'learn' - the Torah or the Talmud, that is, God's Law - were the true elite of the people and should not be bothered with so vulgar an occupation as making money or working for it. This is not to say that in this generation there were no father-son conflicts; on the contrary, the literature of the time is full of them, and if Freud had lived and carried on his inquiries in a country and language other than the German-Jewish milieu which supplied his parents, we might never have heard of an Oedipus complex. But as a rule these conflicts were resolved by the sons' laying claim to being geniuses, or, in the case of the numerous Communists from well-to-do homes, to being devoted to the welfare of mankind - in any case, to aspiring to things higher than making money - and the fathers were more than willing to grant that this was a valid excuse for not making a living. Where such claims were not made or recognized, catastrophe was just around the corner. Benjamin was a case in point: his father never recognized his claims, and their relations were extraordinarily bad. Another such case was Kafka, who - possibly because he was really something of a genius - was quite free of the genius mania of his environments, never claimed to be a genius, and ensured his financial independence by taking an ordinary job at the Prague workmen's compensation office. (His relations with his father were of course equally bad, but for different reasons.) And still, no sooner has Kafka taken this position that he saw in it a 'running start for suicides', as though he were obeying an order that says 'You have to earn your grave.' "

"Collecting springs from a variety of motives which are not easily understood. As benjamin was probably the first to emphasize, collecting is the passion of children, for whom things are not yet commodities and are not valued according to their usefulness, and it is also the hobby of the rich, who own enough not to need anything useful and hence can afford to make 'the transfiguration of objects' (Schriften I, 416) their business. In this they must of necessity discover the beatiful, which needs 'disinterested delight' (Kant) to be recognized. At any rate, a collected object possesses only an amateur value and no use value whatever. (Benjamin was not yet aware of the fact that collecting can also be an eminently sound and often ighly profitable form of investment.) And inasmuch as collecting can fasten on any category of objects (not just art objects, which are in any case removed from the everyday world of use objects because they are 'good' for nothing) and thus, as it were, redeeem the object as a thing since it now is no longer a means to an end but has its intrinsic worth, Benjamin could understand the collector's passion as an attitude akin to that of the revolutionary. Like the revolutionary, the collector 'dreams his way not only into a remote of bygone world, but at the same time into a better one in which, to be sure, people are not provided with what they need any more than they are in the everyday world, but in which things are liberated from the drudgery of usefulness' (Schriften I, 416). Collecting is the redemption of this which is to complement the redemption of man. Even the reading of his books is something questionable to a true bibliophile: ' ''And you have read all these?'' Anatole France is said to have ben asked by an admirer of his library. ''Not one-tenth of them. I don't suppose you use your Sevres china every day?'' ' ('Unpacking My Library'). (In Benjamin's library there were collections of rare children's books and of books by mentally deranged authors; since he was interested neither in child psychology not in psyciatry, these books, like many others among his treasures, literally were not good for anything, serving neither to divert nor to instruct.) Closeley connected with this is the fetish charactetr which Benjamin explicitly claimed for collected objects. The value of genuineness which is decisive for the collector as well as for the market determined by him has replace the 'cult value' and is its secularization."


"Have you ever had a dream... that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"

Early this morning, I dreamt of riding all day in our old 800, with someone who is amongst my favourite thinkers/philosophers. The dream, a day of asking, clarifying, delving; a day of questions, worries, nuances.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another Afternoon, Another Time

Should've posted this more than a week ago...

He hasn't made even a brief appearance in this weblog/chronicles, so I guess it's about time. (But then, isn't it always time?) Vous êtes un bon ami, Mr. Kubrik, not to mention an intermittent partner-in-crime, benefactor, and deliverer across the seven seas, of specially borrowed books and legally acquired goods.

While chatting on MSN a few days ago, the conversation turned to the possibility of their being in (all of) us, certain recurrent behavioural patterns since childhood. (No, I'm not trying to pull the "habituated-to-such-and-such" defence for myself, but sometimes I really really wonder, can we change?) Probably the only detail from that conversation that can be revealed was my mentioning that at age 3, I had ideas of wanting to become a Sikh militant. A terrorist, actually, in search for revenge. Bizarre, I knows, in in the original arabic usage of the term.

A decade later, we were visiting a book fair at the Pragati Maidan (a very name, because while 'pragati' means progress in hindi, a joke in our family is of 'maidan' meaning (going for) ablutions. Get the link/sarcasm? ;-) Anyway, as parking is always big trouble in that part of and time for the city, we'd left our 800 somewhere near the Puraana Quila, and were walking towards the Fair. Suddenly, my sister exclaimed, "Amma, dekho! kabootron ki BJP!" (trans: "Ma, look! Pigeons doing a BJP")

This was February 1993, and she must've just turned 6. Two months prior, the demolition of the Babri Masjib, was brought to us in the form of hazy Newstrack footage (the coming of age of VCR's in India?) and headlining photos in newspapers and magazines. Of the saffron bandana clad army of destructionists clambering like ants over police barricades and assaulting the monument.

Pigeons sunning on the dome of one of the monuments opposite the Puraana Quila, on a slow winter weekend afternoon. Maybe, just (maybe) a few seconds after her words, they flew away... the flock swarming to some other spot.

What if, when warmth is space, the search can only be for another sun?

Reading on a Winter Afternoon

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(-: :-)

Currently grooving with:
Note: these links are valid only for 21 days.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A dig, an excavation...

"When you knew and taught me as a kid, did you think I was or would excessively focus/ed on just one thing?"

"Actualy, when you were that age, I thought you would never ever focus on anything at all!"

"Just joking! My real fear was that you would become so absorbed by/with ideas, that you'd never consider or move towards... practical matters."


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Internet (and) Journeys

If anyone reading this is experienced with, here's a question: my sitetracker records referring links, but those pages often don't have any mention of my URL on them. How so? Bizarre...

I've seen Pulp Fiction about thrice this past week. (Twice on the computer - didn't really figure the film out the first time.) The third viewing was most gripping/irritating/anticipated, as teevee was the medium. With the benefit of hindsight, I must say that Star should be held responsible for undermining the movie experience of millions of intensely creative young people. What was broadcasted was a heavily censored and completely mutilated version of the original! Not too many would mind the blanking out of the various renditions of the f-word... But to do this in a manner that results in compromising the entirety of the film? For example, remember that part where Jules demands his wallet back? On being asked which one it is, he replies "it's the one that says bad mother fucker on it." The nonchalance and finality leaves the viewer wondering whose trip Tarantino is taking, the robbers' or ours...

Now, if you've seen Pulp Fiction, you'll know how incredibly this sequence fits with the rest of the film. Guess what Star did. They deleted the entire exchange! "Ooof, kids these days... can't having them learning these words, absorbing these things," the editing room flunkeys must've thought, before going chompy-chomp. Sigh.

If I were to try to summarize (hear me out before you shout "Ha! Fool! Fool of a fool! ") Pulp Fiction's *entire* message in a single phrase, I'd say it would lie somewhere in the region of "life can get really shitty sometimes." Why? Think about the monologue Walken's character ("this uncomfortable hunk of metal... for two years") launches into, and the predicament Rhames' character's finds himself with ("No man, I'm pretty fucking far from OK.")

I don't intend to creep you out by expressing such profanities, but, be patient... trying to string together a story here... So, where are we at right now? With 'shit happens'. Since its inevitability has already been established, I propose to you (been doing a lot of that lately, haven't I?) something different... something special. Love Happens. dotcom, that too.

['Shit happens' versus 'Love happens'.. that's the connection]

For those who might not be too bothered to follow this bait, here's the quickie. This site pitches itself with a slogan of "where friends help friends find love." It sounds really sweet, until they ask you to confirm your listing (or maybe that's just for a 'premium' version) by paying (a whopping) $20/month (for 6 months, at the end of which, the service is "free!!") Yes, I went, but it was only out of curiousity. Promise.

Curiousity curiousity... One of my favourite PJ's: "don't ever believe the person who tells you 'curiousity kills the cat'. They're lying. When the message actually began, it was 'curiousity skills the cat'."

But, hell, "where friends help friends find love"? 'Web 2.0' and cussing (about) it is all the rage these days. So much so, that I think one of my previous posts might just have provided the impetus for the imagining of a(nother) hot new 'web 2.0' app: Shitlistr. Glad to know I'm helping others (to take another take on Bill & Steve's Bogus Adventures and their XP-centric publicity campaign) 'start something new.'

While this wave of innovative new apps and services might have a definite touchy touchy feely feely sense, most of it largely seems like a rehash of 'why can't we all just rediscover our love for one another?' (if it's possible to extricate a philosophical/political message from the larger context of race tension this sentence/quote alludes to.) 'Rediscover', since, apparently, it was always there, just ('non-marxially') withered away, due to work, time and apathy.

I was at an older social networking site today, and added a cousin to my list. Browsing her friends, (re)discovered G, someone I'd met more than ten years ago, who wrote the following about her:

" one of the best friends I've ever had. She's the kind of person who I'll call after not talking to her for months and we'll pick up right where we left off...[snip][snip] She has always been full of laughter and brightness, full of creative ideas and dreams, and a loving, kind heart. She is the best kind of person and I miss her." (sic)

It's strange to have come across this paragraph... Apart from the essentially accidental nature of the encounter (with the paragraph and the person), there's the fact that, while like almost everyone else, I too have friends with whom I can reconnect in such a manner, most of everyone I've known since school, college, university and elsewhere, are almost non-entities in my almost dysfunctional, nearly dystopian universe now. One of them was in the general area, and she came home the other day, for lunch and a lazy-afternoon movie. We were and have been quite close almost five years now. But the gang is down to two, and almost all of its gangness has... dematerialized.

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Some times, these days, I don't know what I'd give, for smiles and laughs...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Some Monkey Bites, yo.

His Billaciousness is here, talking the good talk, spending the big money, meeting the big people...

A few quick points. Microsoft's the victim of a squat! The Desi Registry reveals
Sponsoring (R5-AFIN)
Registrant Name:Piyush Somani
Registrant City:Nashik
Registrant State/Province:Maharashtra
So what is this post about? You ask a lot of questions, my readers. Or maybe - insert paranoid Fight Club moment here - like Tyler Durden's moment of clarity, mine has to do with realizing that those entries in the visitor stats are actually from my own. Shudder...

Remember when Bush was running for El Presidente of the You.Yess.Ay? (Adam's Life is reeling from this cosmic disaster.) Anyway, those days the typical guffaw-inducing email forward was a collage of Bush pics matched with chimpanzee pics.

"You've seen the forwards! Now go to the site!"

I propose we expand that series, to cover other people and moments. My contribution to this endeavour: a pic I saw at, of Bill, doin' his thang.
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But that's all right... As this page evidently illustrates, cameras often catch people doing their worst. For people like me (AND YOU!) to make pathetic jokes later.

Yes, Bush is in a league by himself. Didn't one 'scream' (no one knows what it was) supposedly 'sink' Howard Dean in 2004? Strange, because Bush is Daddy's Boy, a serial failure at businesses, a draft dodger, low life scumbag alcoholic, a crackhead even, and (in Chris Rock's words) a C student, "who just happened to become the President of the United States". Now I'm not a believer in miracles, but this might just be the kind of touch of God no one needs.

What about Bill? See, there's Bill, but as importantly, there's also Steve. You'll might not have heard of him, but he's there. If the "say 'developers!' as a 'kumbaya' substitute! "video doesn't frighten you, just take a look at this one and you'll know what I'm talking about.

"It's shit like this that's [brought the] situation to a head." Of causing the world to refer to Steve as Mr. "I'm gonna fucking kill Google (by throwing office chairs)" Ballmer, the real 800lb gorilla.

(video mirrors)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Subah Subah ki kich kich

  • You detected, and fell for the buzz!
  • You tried not to cringe on seeing supersize fonts (or maybe it was your own browser config) at their website!
  • You filled the "inform-me-when-it's-ready!" form!
  • You checked the site every third day, explored their 'web 2.0' presence, got bored, and forgot about it!You got news of flock's launch, by email or slashdot!
  • You downloaded a preview (an alpha build - tick off another item in the 'web 2.0' checklist) - their offering!
  • You thought the only really clever part were the "clear my privacy settings" button, and the ability to tag bookmarks!
  • You 'liked its look'!
  • You wondered what the fuck the whole affair was all about!
  • You saw 'flock sucks!' listed in a 'daily hawtness!!!' section, and wondered what the fuck that was all about!
  • You wondered what the fuck the whole affair was all about! (but I'm repeating myself.)

    Time for a rant. Ok, once upon a time, in the days of my blog being a 'come one come all! get your juicy, tasty links here' (just links; no thoughts; sigh) I was surfing, and came across a blog titled "fucked with my pants on." (Intensely) disliking the name and the content, I posted/linked it as 'worst named'. Naturally, got reverse-flamed by its author, who called/likened me (to) a douchebag. ;-)

    Lessons learnt: 1. Visitor trackers work. 2. (Can't think of anything else, actually.) Oh, and 3. One might get flamed, and feel bad for a little while... but it's quickly+easily forgetten.

    Returning to the rant...
    Go Flock Yourself's latest post is titled 'People before profits? Web 2.0 is communism'. Hmm. A juicy excerpt:
    "Ladies and gentlemen, web 2.0 is communism. Clearly the ‘Innovation Age' is just a clever name for a new Bolshevik Revolution. If we don't stop it now, we'll soon be living in Siberia."
    Buddy boy(/girl) was obviously asleep during (or didn't take) the 'the world, lots of social science, much of philosophy, and some political science has changed since Marx/Engels wrote and Lenin/Stalin/Mao etc etc. smote' lesson. This is the worst kind of ignorance. It's the type that conveniently and self-congratulatingly labels others as 'commie pinko bastards.' It peddles in (a fetishistic) narcissism.

    And comments such as these often come from the likes of Bill Gates (who's in India right now, sucking up to GoI), who I think once likened advocates of open source to "a vast left wing conspiracy" (sic, paraphrasing, translating, alluding, all at the same time.)

    What a turn around... You see, I used to love Bill Gates once upon a time. Actually, just his money, the billions in stock, and his underground e-Taj near Seattle. It wasn't the louhv. And, it was before reading Microserfs; well, before thinking beyond Microserfs. Anyway, college and university happened, and I became a commie pinko bastard (who denied it). To being a not-your-usual-commie-pinko-bastard (who doesn't really bother talking about it.)

    Switching to some rhetoric... The deepest assumption (and I'm taking many leaps of logic here) - cleverly and secretly hidden inside - is that people want to live in Siberia . Yeah, you heard/read me right.

    But are the suburbs any better? Definitely not Gurgaon! Not when they moan about how much they love to hate their malls. And how much they love to hate the non-Gurgaon 'crowd' that's taken over their malls. And how they know the malls are there, but they have never been to the malls themselves. Such crass monkey-want-monkey-do behaviour is left for those dirty uncultured fucks from Delhi to indulge in. (Yes, I've heard some of them say stuff like this.)

    Coming back to the part about much-has-changed-since-Marx-and-Mao (and Basu)

    Suggested Readings:
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community (especially introduction and Chapter 1)
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, "What is to be Done?", p. 157-159, in ed. Simon Sparks, Retreating the Political.

    Or maybe I just haven't bothered reading through the archives of FlockSucks... (bad boy)

    Returning to the Flock Marketing messages:

  • You liked its look! (but went back to Firefox)
  • Now, GET THE FLOCKFOX THEME!!! (all offers valid till the craze remains a swarm)

    Note to Self. File this under 'make-your-Firefox-better (seems a lot of people are doing it (making the list and posting the post) these days: Aardvark. See the demo to be dazzled.

    Note to Self #2. File this under 'didn't-we-know-that-already?'
    Violent Games De-sensitize Brain.
    "A researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia, (MU) USA, has found that playing violent games changes a person's brain function and de-sensitizes chronic players to real world violence.

    Bruce Bartholow, assistant professor - psychological sciences, MU, said, "Most of us naturally have a strong aversion to the sight of blood and gore. Surgeons and soldiers may need to overcome these reactions, in order to perform their duties. But, for most people, a diminished reaction to the effects of violence is not adaptive. It can reduce inhibitions against aggressive behavior and increase the possibility of inflicting violence on others."

    [Read the rest, here]
    Hmm. Here's a torrent that shows what happens when (Iraqi) snipers shoot (American/British) soldiers.

    Statutory Warnings:
    1. Soldiers get shot (usually to their head) in this video.
    2. It's propaganda, and seems like it was made by the insurgents.
    3. I don't know arabic, so I don't know what the background singing means.
    4. The torrent contains a PDF that seems sourced from the BNP.
    5. If you don't want to see it, don't see it. "It's a choice you're doing to have to make, Neo."
    6. Yes, People Kill People - is interchangeable with - Yes, Guns Kill People. Now... People, let's kill Guns. Or maybe the answer lies beyond the problematic of 'kill' itself...
  • Another Example of Interlinked Memories

    But aren't memories always like that, you might ask... Step back please, and allow me to reinvent the wheel.

    While reading something on Wired, I jumped to the author's website. Which led me to a really nice collablog. Where these were mentioned.

    If you think I'm overdoing the pronouns, come meet my father. He once told me to "usko phone karne ke baad, wahaan jao, aur woh le ao." [translation: after calling him, go there, and bring it/that.] My sister (when she's around) and me have picked up a habit of just looking blankly, and freezing ("L-O-N-D-O-N... London... Statue!" - but without the crazy body postures) when we hear this nonsense. It's difficult, hoping for clarity when continually confronted with such... such fog.

    As is obvious, I too must put in a lot of effort, into not ending up a chip of the ol' block. Or whatever.

    Anyway, back to the stainless steel playing cards... If you're a fan of the Hong Kong genre, you might've (that's one big MIGHT!) seen one of the trashier flicks, Winners & Sinners: Five Lucky Stars. Was this the film in which one of the baddies, a suit clad gang member, kills people by throwing playing cards at them? Either he's operating with a really fresh pack or the angle they're being launched at are worthy of the research put into a stealth bomber's curve. Throats slit, faces slashed, lungs punctured, that's what this bad guy specializes in, and all from a distance... no elaborate fights to be choreographed. IF I remember correctly.

    One of the funnier and more pathetic sequences in Lucky Stars (whose remembrance by, and discussion with someone I'd like to call Macchi Lady a long time ago led me to discover anew her crazier side... sigh) was when one of the characters manages to convince himself (while bathing) that he's become invisible. He proceeds to waltz around a flat etc. etc. Basically, it was a long set of incredible camera maneuvres by the director and pinpoint accuracy by this actor, to avoid showing us viewers any dong. Like positioning him such that a vase is perfectly aligned with his torso.

    Why am I writing this? Because I've always wondered (ok, not always, but definitely a few times) how those playing cards killed people. Maybe ("just maybe!") they were made of stainless steel, and cost about $400 a set...

    Another mystery solved, another case cracked. Thank you boingboing. I'll keep visiting. Y'all do the same.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    After a long day's... uh, whatever.

    I've been reading some funny stuff on the net. Yes, I know the Lockean (or was it someone else?) idea of the human mind being a blank slate was discredited worked with/around a long time ago, but I've been reading some funny stuff on the net. But I've written that already.

    "Deja vu? That usually happens when they change something." (Ah, the allusions to the Heideggerian Das Man - if that's the correct term.)

    Therefore, I too, want to be funny. It's just 9.37 ("in the p.m.") and not too late to start. Not very difficult either, but hardly easy, after a whole day spent sitting and staring at a screen. Working. Sort of.

    As any researcher must, [but between completing that phrase and glancing at it, I wonder,"how long?"] there are times when one contemplates,
    "what the fuck am I doing? Why am I not out there, in the trenches, or making money by the potful, helping change the world, writing clever copy, partnering a growing business, teaching children/college, saving lives" etc.
    These examples constitute a representative sample of what some young people I know are up to - productive members of society all, even if they do seem strange, distressed, unsure, and existentially clueless at times.
    "Why am I indulging in one of the greatest narcissistic pursuits of all time, believing faithfully in the uniqueness and worth of my ideas, in their potential - in mine! - slogging on, maybe climbing deeper into the web of maya (and also http)"
    We now break for a quick intermission. During now and when regular programming resumes, you will hear not the usual invocation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory lyrics, but something else, something more relevant. (Remember, I promised I'd try to be funny.) :-(
    I'm sitting here in the boring room
    It's just another rainy Sunday afternoon
    I'm wasting my time, I got nothing to do
    I'm hanging around, I'm waiting for you
    But nothing ever happens
    And I wonder

    [and then, one stanza later]

    I wonder how, I wonder why
    Yesterday you told me 'bout the blue blue sky
    And all that I can see is just a yellow lemon-tree
    I'm turning my head up and down
    I'm turning turning turning turning turning around
    And all that I can see is just another lemon-tree
    Actually, all that's happened here is the wondering. No bullshit about neck injury, spinning like a top, or making a slingshot (a childhood wish of mine). Worse, didn't this song get awarded the prize for most ridiculous lyrics of all time? Maybe Madonna wasn't in the running, and that's how Fool's Garden won. But seriously, is there a way to listen to Madonna without having to be subjected to her voice? It's a question I've posed to a couple of friends (who might be reading this, not find the joke funny any longer - hope they don't lose their concentration) but they haven't been able to provide answers either.

    I've been at the computer all day; a book lying on my desk reminds me that the human eye wasn't designed to stare at a screen for these many hours a day. But since we're in the age of snappy alliterations conjured by marketing monkeys hired by governments, here's one: The Three R's. Collectively. they're supposed to denote "Readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic" I'll bet the Bush lovers of the world rejoiced at their cleverness, their wit, and their folksy humour when they were told that these were the basics of a solid foundation/education.

    Hmm. About the only 'rithmetic I got done today was something on the lines of "300,000k ÷ 10k/s" (the amount of time, in seconds, left for a movie download to be completed) and "853.44mb - 34.98%" (that's how much is left of ten albums, via one slow torrent.) Did read a few articles, and jotted some stuff down, but nothing galactic :-(

    Some interesting reads:
    • (via) "Mile by Mile, India Paves a Smoother Road to Its Future": Like its subject matter (the Golden Quadrilateral project) this article tries to cover a lot of ground.

    • The shamelessness deserves its own bullet item. The aforementioned article is my first tipoff, (not very ingenious, since it was slashdotted) to <moreshamelesslinkpimping>SepiaMutiny</moreshamelesslinkpimping>

    • Putting together that set of Kung Fu Hustle pics was a lot of fun. Especially these four screengrabs... It's just too fucking bad that Stephen Chow wants to act like Sheng Yi Huang's sugardaddy in this publicity still :-(

      [oye, ask yourself before launching into any tirade, haven't you ever google'd for someone before?]

    • CSSZenGarden: WOW! Adam's Life: Henh.

    • Chatted on msn with a friend this evening. He sent me a poem he'd composed, after a while. Go here to read it. It made me realize we're both/all thinking after Heidegger, in a way...

    Monkey(s and) As(sides)

    An Island of monkeys, a Conspiracy Theory, wrapped up in a large number of asides. -- Title needs revision

    A phrase I read recently, on a page/blog whose address/USP has receded from me, was "downloading a lot of music these days, as I'm unemployed." (sic.)

    Same here, but differently.

    I'd linked to Pandora a couple of posts ago... In fact, I've been telling as many people as I can about it. If you haven't been there yet, here's a quick re-cap.

    But/And, before the dawnings of other insights, an aside.

    What if the internet functions like that island of monkeys whose story was narrated to me a travelling companion? (This was when) the two of us were on a beach, having stumbled through the almost neck-high water of a river flowing into the sea, walking amongst amazingly huge rocks, stooping every few steps to see if the shell catching our eye was worth keeping. Climbing over rock falls. Wondering if the tide was going up or down. If Butterfly Beach, separated from us by a hundred metres of deep sea, fast currents, and on the far side of the (next) island, could be reached some other day. Or on some other trip, preferably in the monsoon and not in tourist (when locals found even more outrageous ways to mint money from gullible beach-lovin' visitors.) season

    Coming back to the monkeys and the(ir) story. Its end (not as telos, but as punch line) concerned scientific conclusions made after observing the aforementioned island. (Or maybe this whole story and its setting was just a construct, crafted to illustrate and explain a deeper set of points.) Seems, one day, a monkey discovered that when it threw a stone, something unusual and special (I forget what) would occur. (It's obvious that scientists were right there when this happened, equipped with fabulous understandings into primate behaviour patterns, just waiting for the first throwing, of the first stone ;-) ) Anyway, this monkey must've spent some time figuring out the principles of cause and effect, but since there just a few hundred of a like species around (I'm taking a take on the "typewriters + million monkeys + sufficient time = Shakespeare" joke) , they couldn't come up with typically Humean objections. (henhnehenh.)

    Soon, other monkeys caught the throwing bug, and slowly the phenomenon spread...
    (As if) like a meme on the internet ;-)

    [[ I've been away from the blogosphere for so long, that I must've missed a huge number of pointless, resource wasting, flavour of the week/weak; the freaks and the fashions. That died out - that contained their deaths in their births - just because they were a diversion; a thing to copy; the mob following the lead of the blog-superstars, who gave it the currency of (an episodic) cool. But slow down before you flame me, my two dedicated readers (who are close friends, in real life.) Yes, I realize that I have participated in the mania of "all your base are belong to us", the desire for self-affirmation via, and the not-so-cute-one-inch-high-images-we-assembled-of-our-actual-appearances. Etc. What if things are different now? *winks* An Inevitable Counterpoint: "hey D, but didn't Shammi Kapoor proclaim in a recent 'India Explained' article that he was a netfreak. And a blogger to boot?? So, aren't you falling prey to the larger pattern of another assumed cool? Blogging itself?"
    I'll end this ass-of-an-aside (within another aside) before you close the browser window, wondering what the point is. ]]

    It is the question that drives us back to the point... So, we have all these monkeys, since monkeys see what monkeys do (and the other way round.) But they're a minority of the whole population. Travelling Companion's ('TC', henceforth) next line was, "that's when the incredible happened. When the number of monkeys slinging stones crossed a certain mark, say, a hundred, all hell broke loose, and, the entire simian population was soon infected with the project" (haha, someone's feeling clever with words and allusions today! Clever enough to get the domain name, actually.) "That's what is known as 'the tipping point' ", and it works in the same way that geometric progression zooms past (by leaps and bounds) linear progression.

    Linking this up with Pandora: I don't remember where I first came across the link (and what made me click). But what if what we encounter on the internet (and how we encounter it) is similar to the monkeys-slinging-stones story/theory/idea? Where would we stand? Suppose the variable "X" is the number with which the phenomenon tips over... What am I then? the number X+1, in the moment of approaching the peculiarity? Or, to create another variable, "Y", which denotes how much further the tipping point might be... am I the number X-Y, a link in the chain?

    I think the answer occurs in the vicinity of, first, the impossibility of their being any X at all. Secondly, the inanity of the desire, for being/becoming X.


    To finally write about what I wanted
    to write about...

    Pandora is a combination of the following: a jukebox, a radio station, and a DJ dishing out the hits; all packaged in a slick 'how-did-they-do-it?' Flash interface. The operative logic behind their service: we (referring to people, not pandora's programmers) are now (but haven't we always been, as finite beings?) at a time, when, like everything else, there's too much music.

    Too much music, and not enough time or information on tracks, albums, bands or genres, that we (might) like. Pandora's staff of musicians has spent (blah blah) lots of time categorizing tracks according to hundreds of parameters. One registers for an account, fills in any musical info, and begins receiving. Here's where the fun begins: as the emphasis is on the discovery of (previously unknown) music that might catch one's fancy, track after track streams through. Some of it you've heard before, some you haven't. Like Moodlogic in a way, but with tracks coming through a flash interface, and legally.

    A quick dodge: my own practices of experiencing music have shifted a lot in the past few years. In the beginning (say that in a booming voice), there was dialup. With it, like infections picked up during hospital visits, came end-of-the-month bill tensions, busy phones, complaints from callers about busy phones, and parents at the end of their wits. Then, there was (the joke that is in India called) broadband. Now, there's an always-on unlimited time+data connection (that is paraded around as broadband. Bah.) Similarly, first, ftp, audiogalaxy etc. Then, Kazaa(lite), Bearshare, and {insert assorted p2p name}. Now, Bittorrent. Respectively.

    With(in) the particularity of this trajectory, Pandora is an oddity. In fact, I even suspect it to be a devious ploy by the Evilness of Big Music. It doesn't allow a track to be played again. thereby negating the incredible, time-and-profit-defying "hear whatever I want, whenever I want" concept of hard disc based music collections. But most of all, it encourages two choices: "buy track from Itunes", and "purchase album from Amazon."

    Yes, it is free (in version 2.0). Yes, it is smart. 'Cool' even. However, jotting down, then searching, then dowloading (all 'illegally', of course) for music isn't fun. (But nothing that's fun is easy, so...)

    I had begun this post a week ago. As it stands now, it's just a bunch of asides. Examining the ideas I was making on the conspiracy front, I've realized the argument doesn't really go anywhere, because it ignores the biggest distinction between a music collection on a hard disc, and radio as a method of delivery: time. When you run your mp3 player, you can choose from amongst what you have. Yes, I have about five or six thousand tracks now, and can't identify all of them. But the fact that they reside on my hard disc means that, theoretically, the chance of repetition - of playing a track if I want to (and if I can find it) does exist. Pandora, and by inference, radio itself, is very different. Repetition, or control over it, isn't an option.

    Effectively weakening my tirade against the evilness and machinations of Big Music. One argument proved, most of everything else disproved.

    Hmm... this post has turned into a post-for-posting's sake. Well, stay tuned, and keep writing in ;-)

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    After lots of experimentation, many unexplainable Wordpress initiated code rewrites, here it comes... My first screenshot narration, of Kung Fu Hustle. (Inspired by turbanhead's excesses ;-)

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    Some Not-So-Random Linkage...

    My memory's short, and I've no idea how I stumbled across this animated tutorial for making paper planes. However, if you have more time, patience and clinamen, get these books...

    Having had a few encounters with people who tend to thump their chests and lecture others about the importance of 'joining the mainstream', it's an idea I've tried to think about, but mostly in indignation. That was until coming across Mrinal Miri's article in Seminar #550. He writes,
    "Frequently, we try and understand the cultural scene in India by using the two supposedly dichotomous notions of ‘main stream’ and ‘marginality’. These concepts are natural allies of the view that if India is a nation, then it must be unicultural. And since India is a nation, then in some, as yet, invisible, but profound sense, it must also be unicultural.

    It is inappropriate and potentially dangerous to understand cultural India in terms of the metaphors of ‘main stream’ and ‘marginality’.

    Take the main stream/sub-streams (tributary) metaphor first. The place of origin of a sub-stream is frequently different from the place of origin of the main stream, but sub-streams flow into the main stream and become one with it (but do they really?) It might be thought that difference in origin is not really important, as long as eventually they become one. In many matters this may indeed be so. But in the case of the main stream and the tributaries which flow into it, the latter’s place of origin does, in fact, literally make a great deal of difference to their natures, and when they do flow into the main stream, the main stream is not what it was before either.

    Take the marvellously different natures of the tributaries of the great river Brahmaputra and the difference which is made to them by the sources which keep them running, and the difference each of them makes to the nature of the great river itself. The river Brahmaputra would certainly not be what it is, but for its tributaries.

    What, then, is the main stream culture of India? Many would be tempted to say that it is what is now known as the Hindu cultural tradition. Suppose, we accept this answer. Is the question where it originated important? For some at least, it is an extraordinarily important question. They think – even if perhaps in not so many words – that if it did not originate in the land now known as India, somehow the very core of its claim on India will dangerously diminish. This surely is the main reason why there is so much desperation in some of the debates surrounding this question. But suppose it did originate in India, are there not other cultures which originated in India too?"

    To read the rest of "Community, culture, nation", go here.

    (More) from The Guardian, a very detailed account" of the swirling of rumours that led to race riots.

    Hrmph. Enough depressing stuff... I saw Kung Fu Hustle. WOW!!