Showing posts from June, 2005

Zero Sum Game

Despite the religious slant towards the end in this article on the perils of pre-martial sex, it is still well articulated, objective and balanced overall.

Reading it I remembered what my best friend A wrote to me a while back on the subject of relationships and marriage in the context of my circumstances.

"I think the litmus test of any man in a relationship is how serious and how soon he is willing to enter into a formal arrangement i.e. matrimony. This will exhibit how sure he is of the relationship, his acceptability of your unique situation and his ability to shoulder the responsibility of a married life.

There are advantages to a formal arrangement right from the beginning. The intimacy of body and soul reached in matrimony is more long lasting and durable. When the courtship is too long with it's attendant weaker moments, marriage becomes an afterthought and more of an obligation than a thing to look forward too."

Opinions can vary radically on the subject on intim…

Fairytales And Nanofactories

Reading an article on nanofactories brings to mind something quite unrelated - a Chinese folk tale about a boy who had the gift of infusing life into everything he painted.

So out of his imagination came fantastic creatures bird, beast or things in between. I don't exactly remember how it ended. If memory serves right it had to do with greed and avarice stripping him off his powers when he started to paint gold coins.

Science fiction sometimes predates technology by several decades proving the power of human imagination. Fairytales and technology seem no less entwined.

Points Of View

About a year ago I read a book of essays by New York based writers on their first reactions to 9/11. The selection had authors of myriad nationalities to create the cultural vibe of the multi-ethnic New York City. It was an engrossing read. The lack in qualitative uniformity in writing was more than made up for by the sheer diversity of perspective.

More recently, I read a Woody Allen interview where he talks about 9/11 as a film-maker. A non-conformist and anti-establishment view as maybe expected from Allen but not something one can disagree with.
This one may actually stay with me for long after media is done regurgitating the event ad nauseum in a bid to imbue it with importance out of proportion to it's place in history.

SPIEGEL: So is this one of the reasons why we don't see any hint of what happened on September 11 in your recent films? Would your fans be scared?

Allen: No, it's because I don't find political subjects or topical world events profound enough to get i…

Moblogging And iWitness

Extending the concept of Wikipedia to moblogging results in something like iWitness

Anyone with a camera phone can now observe, publish and comment on what is reported by mainstream media. That the medium is still nascent is obvious from the Flickr photostreams without context or commentary. That is bound to change with time and the availbility of more sophisticated widgets for the reportage inclined moblogger.

Turning news reporting so egalitarian and therefore bipartisan feels good when you realize just about anyone could contribute to a conversation instead of remaining a mute bystander.

Two Movies And Wasted Hours

I watched the last good movie many moons ago. The opportunity to watch a couple presented itself quite by chance a few weeks ago. J had enough company to occupy, distract and finally tire her to sleep.

We were too lazy to drive up to a movie rental place and instead looked at what was lying around my friend's house - mainly stuff that others had left behind. There was not an awful lot to choose from. But we were determined to catch a couple of flicks that evening to make up for my loss.

First on was Sideways. I kept thinking there would be a point to it - that if I watched it long enough and hard enough, I would get it too. Wine tasting, pointless liaisons and an unsuccessful divorced writer - does that make up a wholesome story ? Being no oneophile the lush commentary on wines did not add to my repertoire of anything. I was exhausted by the verborrhea instead.

But the next choice was the real mistake. The Guru. For being billed as a romantic comedy it sure was hard to laugh. Bollyw…

Overhanging Branches

Growing up in a green and small town India, a tree laden with fruit overhanging on public property was a subject fraught with anxiety, disquiet and acrimony. The owner of the property and thus the tree claimed rightful ownership to it's fruit. Others thought otherwise.

Neighbors and passers-by would challenge that claim saying the rights were void since the tree had existed long before the current owner came to own the property. As children we foraged fallen fruit being sure not to trespass. We were aware of treading the fine line between right and wrong.

So many years later, it brings back memories of childhood to read about the Fallen Fruit project. Similar premises but radically different approach. This is fueled by technology rather than the thrill of doing something borderline wrong and the possibility of being rebuked if caught.

Macro-economics For Dummies

How does the American economy work is a question that is beyond my abilities to comprehend. Trillions of dollar in debt and yet the most powerful country in the world is not a contradiction for those who have figured things out. To me, it seems one of those far out of reach esoteric things only a privileged few can claim to understand.

Someone has taken a stab at dumbing it down to the level of the common person who does not have the requisite education or awareness. I liked the farm and farmer analogy to explain a far bigger and complex picture. It sounds like a lot of trouble and an almost inextricable mess.

I also realize that pundit-speak rife with jargon and statistics on economics will continue to confound me as always. I will still not understand how a multi-trillion dollar debt is all about a nation's health and vitality, under-employment and job-lessness is not as bad it seems and finally the housing boom is the real McCoy and not a mega-bubble of the dot com scale.

Some for…

On An Aftermath

After more years than I remember
I am strungapproximately between
the deepest pain and love -for you.
I make a make-shift home
for you in my heart
way before its time
knowing I should not.
Your lips brushed against my skin
rekindling dead desire,
turning me parched for love again.
But I do because you insist
on having the comfort of home
when just passing by
enjoying the view.
Your words and voice fade
you leave - make no promise
to come closer
or even return
- all of which I crave
no less or more than the other.My hopes are churnedfrothy
not ready to burst yet - don't ask for death.
Knowing that at dawn you
will be gone - forever.
Tell me instead that you have loved and hurt
for me as much or more - as I have done for you.Tell me that you were waiting for heavens
to make the sign that I was the one for you.Tell me anything, but don't leave yet - stay.I love you for the best reason possible - that
for no reason at all. For no promise made, for no
perfection, nothing offered, nothing received.I love y…

Financial Smarts

My friend B was telling me a story about a man who always stashed money in his backyard. Turns out that it was enough to buy a new house when he was ready to do that. Now that's what I call a smart move.
What could possibly be better than a fully paid off home and attendant peace of mind. He did not have to deal with the nerve racking vagaries of investing or worry about identity theft, phising, pharming and the like. His money remained safe under the earth and none the wiser about it. A secret that size has got to be thrilling by its own right - specially when data about us is valuable enough to fuel a whole underground black market economy
I ran into this article on CNN about the fifty smartest things you can do with your money. I gave it only a cursory glance. With my financial smarts I knew reading about all that I should have but have not done with my money would not be very edifying. Out of perverse curiosity, I read instead the 15 dumb moves. Looks like they had me in mind wh…

Small Rite Of Passage

The first time your little girl tells you about her boyfriend is a significant rite of passage in parenthood. Mine occurred about a few minutes ago when J told me that Byrce hit her "boyfriend".

Now, I hear about the ex-officio bully of the "Threes Room" every day but this is the first that J has been outraged on behalf of an assaulted boyfriend. When I seek to learn the identity of this person, she names a pint sized brat named Ryan I am very familiar with. Ms K and Ms W joke regularly that they (J and Ryan ) are in love with each other and will be married when they turn twenty one.

I asked J who had told her that Ryan was her boyfriend. "Jamie said so" was her answer. Jamie has just turned three and looks a lot younger - she is an utterly adorable baby. Not someone you would associate with astutely matching people with their significant others. I ask J whose Jamie's boyfriend is "Ryan. Ryan is everyone's boyfriend"

Looks like Casanova jun…

Power Of The Masses

There is a touching simplicity about the idea of adopting a Chinese blog

In an infinitely connected world there is a foster home for samizdat literature and establishment contrarian views. There could a cyber-asylum for thoughts that would have not otherwise seen light of day and died in-utero.

When a 800 lb gorilla like Microsoft together with the Chinese government cannot quell the babbling masses, the hoi polloi begins to look invincible. A silent, peaceful and non-violent revolution seems possible - in the classical Gandhian way.

Yet the masses for all their power are do not add up to much Google-wise atleast as one blogger points out

Googling "China's effect on the Internet" (with the quotes) turns up zero hits.

Safe From Pariahs

Being the mother of a little girl, my reaction to any news on child abuse or sex offenders is visceral. More often than not my response is guided totally by emotion and not buttressed by dispassionate reasoning or analysis.

Should sex offenders be turned into social pariahs rendering them even more dangerous ? Maybe not. Simply because the effect of marginalizing them from society is a self-defeating objective. However, I have to admit I feel safe to know that they are and can be tracked and be debarred from an amusement park. Our children will be safer for the vigilance.

Whether this approach is right is questionable. I wonder if the ideal solution would not be to seek to cure the psychological aberration - get the offenders the help they need to return to mainstream society. Bathwaterism maybe seem the quick fix but does not truly fix anything in the end.

Nature Deficit Disorder

J ran in the yard, garden and beyond with other children when she started to walk - but that was in India. The domestic help and her sizeable family lived in the outhouse of our rambling old bungalow, all of the neighbors had been around for decades. There were enough eyes on her all the time. No one was worried about her getting the Nature Deficit Disorder

Ms W and Ms K keep a vigilant eye on all the children at J's daycare. There is a security system in place and the tot-lot is covered with mulch as opposed to natural greenery. J gathered flowers in the morning with my mother, walking barefoot through dewy grass, knowing to side-step ant-hills like the grown-ups had taught her to. If she had stayed longer she would have known flowers and plants by name, shape, texture and smell just like I had.

J is now scared to walk down the stony path through the woods behind our community that leads to a lake. She sense of one-ness with nature is very much impaired. It scares me when I read &q…

Armchair Traveling

It's been a while since I went further than a fifty mile radius of home unless a change of job necessitated the move. Relocation is a whole different enchilada. The thrill of seeing a new place is lost in the chaos of apartment and daycare hunting, adjusting to a new workplace and getting to know the neighborhood well enough for life's mundane needs. While change of place has been a constant theme in my life the last several years travel for pleasure has been almost completely absent.
I make up for my loss by reading accounts of those who have been more fortunate. I like that I can escape to the Silk Route or Siberia. The connection with a blogger updating experiences on the road near real time is far superior to that of any other medium I am familiar with - a well crafted documentary or a travelogue for instance. I feel like my wanderlust is satisfied a little even when I cannot quite be vagabonding off to Petra like my heart craves to.

A Reign Of Fear

My friend B is ultra-liberal born and raised in Boston. She lived in California for twenty years before real estate prices drove her out of there to cheaper southern states. Her disappointment with present day America is complete and she often asks me if she can find gainful employment in India and what it may cost to live there. I warn her that a brunette with green eyes would not quite blend with the local scenery and suggest NZ or Australia instead.

She has this interesting Michael Moore-ish theory about state sponsored obesity along the lines of "Cheap processed food is the opiate of the masses". Give people too much to eat, bait them with a slew of consumer goods, McSUVs and McMansions, allow them to sink in bottomless debt you create an atmosphere of unparalleled insecurity and fear. An over-full stomach gives them a false sense of comfort. A dread combination that turns out just perfect for dictatorship to thrive.

Fear of loosing their jobs, of loosing their assets, of …

The Love Of Cats

I am not a cat lover and reading this will keep me much further away from them. I try to think of people I know who own cats and see if anything about this study matches with what I have seen.

My cousin's wife L opens her home and heart to stray cats of all stripe. They have been married about seven years. She for the most part stays with her parents and her cats visiting the husband on occasion. They have decided not to have children because they don't want to raise a child in a cruel, miserable world. Not a regular couple by any standards.

Mr and Mrs D have a cat that has evicted Mrs D from bed in the master bedroom to occupy it herself. With Mr D being past eighty and Mrs D pushing seventy the cat has not done their marriage any irreparable damage. Mrs D tells me that Mr D would not miss her if she was dead and gone as long as the cat was around.

E has been on prescription strength sleep medication and anti-depressants for over ten years and admits succumbing to retail therapy

Finishing First

For the last few weeks J has been insisting that I pick her early from daycare. When she says that, I tell her that Mommy comes just as soon as she can and really can't come any sooner. With the inscrutable logic that children have she insists "But come early today. Three o'clock early. Not five o'clock early".

Yesterday her request changed considerably "Come to pick me up before nap-time" which is about noon. Apparently her best friend's mother picks Jamie up before nap time. I was in a contest with her and was loosing by a wide margin. J goes on to add "Jamie's Mommy is the best Mommy. She comes there first every single day" Now "every single day" is J's preferred way of emphasizing consistent and repeatable behavior. My timings are not exactly consistent and she has noticed. I'm not doing the mothering job quite right as elucidated by an example.

I try to see if J can find another best friend - her loyalty has been v…

IMing For Jobs

I haven't seen IM used that much by regular job-seekers . Maybe there is a lesson for us in how they use it in Hollywood

Flagging one's status as "Need Work" instead of "Away from computer" is simple enough and yet makes such a world of difference. Assuming of course that your buddy list is as long as it is diverse .This is an example of near real-time business networking. Maybe Ryze, LinkedIn, Spoke et al are listening up and will soon have a chat feature.

One Man Versus The Corporation

Many of us coming of voting age in India firmly believed that our vote did not count and election day was just another holiday. Even without trying we had decided that we would not be able to make a difference. Political apathy used to be symptomatic of educated, informed urban youth. I think it still is.

The story of a grassroots level organization comprising of one man that is shaking up Coca Cola's business in India seems affirming at first glance. When I think more about it I wonder if this fledgling non-government entity is successful only because it is playing into the hands of powerful vested interests inside the political and judicial system. A similar approach to unseat a corrupt regime would not yield similar results.

I am big fan of Good News India a site that shares positive, uplifting stories about India. In a token way, it serves as a factual counterpoint to all the one dimensional tear-jerkers that the Western media feeds the uninformed masses - relentlessly. Even so …

My Best Friend

Every girl should have a best friend like A. Among the blessings in my life I never fail to count he features prominently. Lately, his attitude towards me has turned rather avuncular and protective.

Maybe age is creeping up on him faster than it is on me. Then A is the kind of man who will tell a girl she does not look a day older than sixteen and make her believe in that fiction. He is economical with his compliments but his timing is perfect.

Last time he called I told him about the current person of interest in my life and my sense of confusion about him. A asked to see pictures so he could provide opinion and commentary. I was only happy to oblige knowing his acuity.

Even so, as a test, I sent him pictures of two other men who were previously significant but not any more . No names were mentioned. He was supposed to figure out independently. His response left me astounded and impressed.

The Gentleman X - I somehow don't hold a generous view of people who want to consciously stand …

Two Alike Teens

I was sitting in the lobby reading a book waiting for J to finish her lesson. Across from me on the sofa sat two young girls. I find it hard to guess the age of children these days, thanks to precocious puberty. Dressed almost identically in tees and shorts out of a summer fashion catalog, chattering in an intonation so similar that it sounded like one voice rather than two - Tweedledee was Tweedledum except for one detail. The girl on the right had remarkably long and slender legs - the kind that walk the ramp. Almost reading my thoughts a woman sitting next to me said to her "You should go to New York - that's the place for fashion models. I have a friend who has a friend who knows Bill Blass and Gloria Vanderbilt." I had intercepted an on-going conversation having just arrived at the scene. The girl talked about some of the try-outs she had been too. I saw now that her face was very pretty too and unlike her companion she was painfully aware of the fact. I noticed the…

Dating Eugenics

With my on-line dating experiences going down-hill full throttle, I am beginning to appreciate the merits of extreme and unusual niches in the on-line ecosystem. The generic dating site is an un-moderated free for all with zero selectivity.

Anyone can string together a profile and they are in the game in sober earnest. Finding someone that sounds normal and even-keeled can be harder than finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.

By when Godot shows up, you realize that the written word conveyed absolutely nothing about them that mattered. With time being at premium for most of us, this drill repeated several times can prove very expensive.

Selectivity may well work to everyone's advantage. Here is one long tail phenomenon with potential to end only at infinity and everyone who cares can have a piece of the action. Niches can be as numerous as there are dimensions to human nature - possibly infinite.

Novel Delivered To Inbox

The delivery mechanism of this e-novel is indeed novel but the first three free e-mails did not make me crave the full three week deal. The idea is fantastic and not something I had heard of before. Early adopters are around though.

Most amateur writers who don't have the means or the desire to go the expensive agent/publisher route often toy with the idea of self-publication and retreat from the fear of plagiarization. This does seem to be a step in the right direction.

If a novel is serialized and delivered by e-mail the controls get a lot tighter. The author remains in charge. I think it would ideal to allow an extended sign-up period for readers to pay for the e-book and deliver to everyone at the same time.

Lessons In Obedience

As parents we fret and fume over our recalcitrant brats trying to teach them the importance of discipline and obedience. But our efforts may have been in vain in the end. In life's most decisive moments disobedience and chaos may be a better choice

That authority figures may not always be in the know or even know what they are supposed to is a realization that dawns on most of us while we are still young. Yet we continue to heed their flawed advise like we have been conditioned to do. In the totem pole of authoritativeness, parents come right at the top. A young child believes implicitly that their parents know it all and are incapable of being wrong. To live up to that image and expectation is hard enough.

Parents in the wired and networked age are additionally challenged to provide lessons to their wards that will stay fresh and relevant at least for eighty web years. This can be a very daunting task unless the parent is a visionary perhaps. Teaching our children what is good for …

Invinscible Evil Overlord

Every formulaic screen villain has lessons to learn from how to be the insuperable evil overlord

Movies probably set up evil overlords for failure to teach a moral lesson - as in do no evil it does not pay in the end. To paraphrase - bad guys finish last. A laudable objective without doubt in a time when one mostly sees good guys limping up to the finish line - definitely, indubitably last. The manner in which the end comes in the end to a typical screen villain is however material for comic relief.

There are some lessons that not well served by either humor or hyperbole.

Numbed By News

It's not often that I read a news story and come away not knowing how I feel or react to what I read - assuming the story is of human interest and calls for reaction.

That death row inmates should raise a scholarship for a boy who wants to be a police officer is highly unusual any way you look at it. Specially in this case since the boy's sister was raped and murdered at age four and the perpetrator is on death row.

I tried to react to this from different perspectives and find it impossible. Is there something uplifting or redeeming about this incident or do I find it rather macabre ? I am not sure if I see this as a tale of atonement as it probably is.

In not being able to come out with a clear and articulated reaction there is a sense of disquiet. I realize how complex and incomprehensible human nature is. The language of thought and action is not quite universal.

I feel curiously compelled to know if everyone who read this story felt the same inner conflict as I did even if…

Technology For Togethernesss

Instead of paying the shrink for couch-time or pouring woes out on Abby investing in state of the art washing machine technology may be an option to consider. The equitable laundry-turn taking quandary must be serious and wide-spread enough to result in innovation that " uses fingerprint recognition technology to ensure the job of loading is not dumped on just one individual "

While this serves couples after they have decided (for better or for worse) to pair there is James Larrson's dinner utensils that will cue the clueless dater on the true feelings of the datee. Hopefully to be forewarned is to be forearmed against mistakes if the heart will heed data.

With such sophisticated props to support the complicated madness of dating and mating , it may well end up having a scientific method to it. The Geek may inherit the earth someday.

Old Love Songs

This was in the early nineties, now almost a prehistorical time. It was the night of the college social timed impeccably to coincide with Valentine's Day. Roses were given away with abandon and romances bloomed all around. The resident DJ had set up shop to play song dedications and was doing brisk business.

Someone I knew just a little played Rod Stewart's Have I Told You Lately That I Love You - for me. Back in those days, in the backwaters where I went to school, that was as bold as a man could hope to get. Fact was we had not even talked that much so this whole talk of "love" was only in his imagination. A long stemmed red rose followed later in the evening. I would have to be an incurable dolt to not get the message.

The raw passion and energy about that song, the atmosphere and youth combined had the desired effect on both of us. Reading about Rod Stewart's divorce makes me wonder at how that makes sense. Maybe being perfect in one way is compensated by many …

Six Years And Apart

When I was leaving R one of the last things I did was to go over our collection of music - tapes, CDs and mp3 files on our computer. His favorites, my favorites and in our short time together those that came to be our favorites. Sort, sift, keep and leave - an exercise that caused me physical pain. He and I were equally possessive of memories - with his photographic memory forgetfulness came to him a lot harder than it did for me.

I would be lying if I claimed I had altruistic motives when I picked out what I would take with me. I burnt CDs, deleted files after me leaving him with an empty home fully depleted of memories. I left his Kenny Rogers CDs behind. New marriage, home-making, waiting for R to come home for lunch have Lucille as their background score. Strange that I would listen to this song so much as a newly-wed. It almost turned prophetic. R would smile when he walked in the afternoon "You're hooked on that song aren't you ?" Neither of us read omens.

I also…

Data Ransom

Gartner's story on how electronic files could apparently be held to ransom is just another reason for not using Internet Explorer. Though it has been argued any browser with similarly high market penetration could turn equally if not even more vulnerable.

Maybe the trick is to use the least popular browser and work down the pecking order.

There is a certain irony about how growth and popularity turn precursive to self-destruction and that being anonymously picayune is more desirable than turning into a acknowledged phenom.

DNA Artistry

For a lay person it is hard to even fathom what the implications may be for DNA to have a Photoshop like tool for ease of manipulation. The Forbes article says "The leap might be akin to going from having to correct articles with Wite-Out to editing them onscreen with a word processor"

One wonders how far the parallel extends. Would the "DNA word processor" have thesauri, spelling and grammar check abilities ? Would it provide templates for common tasks ? Would the speed of change this would enable in biotech result in cognitive overload of sorts ? Most of all how exactly do these parallels translate for the common person - the presumed beneficiary of such technological advancement.

The Proximity Challenge

B and I met online a few days ago. His handle was almost as interesting as mine and the profile succinct. Suffice to say that I wrote back to him knowing he was three years younger than me with obviously no end in view. We chat some and it turns out that he has worked around the world and is now finishing up his MBA program from an A list B-school in the US. He is intelligent and possessed of acerbic wit. After a grueling day at work just what I need to unwind. An hour later we figure there is enough reason to consider exchanging pictures and following up with a coffee shop meeting. The picture part goes very well. He is refined and intellectual looking not dashingly handsome but positively attractive. He for his part has no complaints about what he sees either. We seem to have made excellent progress in less than an hour. The question of meeting in person follows shortly after. He lives an hour and half away from me so I figure distance is a non-issue. He asks me how he can make to w…