Monday, June 27, 2005

Man must be crazy! (Monday morning blues?)

Recently, I had a chance to watch "Gods Must Be Crazy". The introductory monologue on the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert had a really really interesting way of looking at our way of life. The narrator talks about the Bushmen as people who have adjusted to their environment. The Kalahari desert is devoid of any kind of surface water (for about 9 months in a year) even though there is some sort of vegetation. The Bushmen rely on dew drops and certain type of roots for their water needs. Their primary food is meat. The men, women and children all work together to get their daily ration of food and keeping their shelters clean. There is no concept of ownership. There is no crime in their society. No concept of jealousy or anger.. They go about their simple ways of living very contently because they have what's most necessary to them. Food, water and shelter.
The narrator then goes to talk about a big city about 600 miles south of the Kalahari Desert.. He interestingly states that in this part of the country, civilized man refused to adapt himself to the environment. Instead, he chose to adapt his environment to suit him. The film shows videos of cars, roads, casinos, pubs, etc, etc.. basically a typical city. He says that civilized man put up roads, buildings, power lines to run his labor saving devices..
Here's the interesting part. The narrator then talks about how man has made things more difficult for himself when he made the adapted his environment to suit his needs. He says that the civilized man didn't know when to stop. So now his children are sentenced to atleast 16 years of studying just to learn how to survive in this concrete jungle he created. Civilized man who refused to adapt himself to his surroundings, now finds himself adapting to his self-created environment every day and every hour.
For instance, if the day is called Monday, and the number 7:30 appears on his clock, he has to dis-adapt himself from his domestic surroundings and re-adapt himself to a completely new environment.. his work place. When the number 8:00 appears, he has to look busy. 10:30 means he can stop looking busy for 15 min (coffee break?). And then again at 10.45 he has to start looking busy.
And so, his day is chopped up into little pieces. And in each segment of time, he has to adapt himself to a new set of circumstances/surroundings.
Imagine if you were in the Kalahari. Everyday could be a Tuesday.. Or Thursday for that matter. Or Sunday if you like. No clocks or calendars telling you to do this or that...

What an interesting way to look at our mundane life....

Sigh.. on with the grind!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Visit to Gunnison, Telluride and Mesa Verde National Park (Cortez)

People have long told me that the South West Colorado is the most beautiful part of Colorado. I had the chance to make a trip down there a few weeks back with a bunch of friends. We drove the entire San Juan sky way (a.k.a. the Million Dollar Highway). I don't think I'll ever be able to do justice to its beauty by describing it. I don't think any number of superlatives or pictures are capable of bringing out the beauty of that region. I am putting up only a few pictures, though there are many really good pics from this trip, to keep the size of the post down.

Day 1: The Black Canyons of Gunnison..
Mesas of the Black Canyon.View of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.
View point at the top of the canyon. The Black Canyon is the second narrowest in the United States. It is 2000 feet deep but only 45 feet wide at its narrowest point.

Day 1: Telluride
Approaching Telluride. Thats the Black Bear Pass! That zig zag line leading to the top is the approach to the pass. For expert drivers with 4 Wheel Drives only!On the Gondola ride from Telluride to the Mountain Village above Telluride.
At the Mountain Village..Now why wouldn't anyone love to stay here?
Native Indian statue at the Mountain Village..Ride down to Telluride.
Sunset near Telluride..

Day 2: Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.Age old ruins set on the sand stone settings. 
Wow.. this was actually where the Mesa Verde people got together. Some sort of a community room.. 5 people today's size couldn't fit in there.. The Mesa Verdians actually cliimbed the sheer rock walls with toe and finger holes. 
Panoramic shot of the Cliff Palace ruins

On Day 3, we visited Pagosa Springs. There were 21 different pools of water fed from hot water sulphur springs just alongside a river.. Each was maintained at a different temperature by mixing some of the river water into it. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of that place. But, well, I did get to experience of staying immersed in each one of those. Sigh.. the lifestyles of the rich and the famous! I hear that Ouray has hot-water springs too. We just drove through Ouray this time.. Imagine lazing in a hot-water spring pool and enjoying a 360 degree view of snow-capped mountains! Thats for another time I guess!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Inspired film songs..

For those who haven't heard about the site I2FS already and for those of you who do not wish to see their favorite songs' original sources revealed..


I've been a regular visitor to this site called Indian Inspired Film Songs for about 2-3 years now. This site maintains a catalog of known lifts/inspirations in Indian Film music. It is a private site maintained by Karthik from Bangalore. The catalog is a result of a number of people providing inputs on the plagiarisms they have noticed. An e-group has been created for this purpose alone. The site also has audio clips of the originals and the lifts so that people can actually gauge the extent of the lift. However, one thing that this site does not do, is indicate the lifts across different languages in India itself. So, music directors like Kalyanji Anandji get away without mentions of lifts of popular numbers like "Neele Neele Ambar" (from Ilayaraja's super hit song Ilaya Nila).

To give people a rough idea of what to expect at this site.. Here are a few lifts that have been talked about recently at this site.

> Athinthom - Chandramukhi, 2005 (Vidya Sagar)
> Andangaakka - Anniyan, 2005 (Harris Jeyaraj)
> Vaa Vaa - Dass, 2005 (Yuvan Shankar Raja)

Some facts that I was surprised to glean from this site..
> R.D.Burman comes 2nd in the number of lifts/inspirations (no prizes for guessing that Anu Malik is currently at no. 1)
> Ilayaraja has more lifts at this point that A.R.Rahman (heart breaker.. but considering the fact that IR has 8000 songs to his name and only 12 known inspirations/lifts, he is still the greatest.)
> Super hit Kaadhal Kondein had 4-5 lifts/inspirations in it.
> Deva, perhaps the biggest perpetrator of them all, still has fewer counts than even Bappi Lahiri (probably people have given up on even paying attention to Deva's music?)

I request all my readers and fellow bloggers to spread the word about this collective effort to catalog lifts. Hopefully, we will one day convey to the Indian music directors that they can't really make a fool of us by taking credit for something that they truly didn't create. And definitely Karthik can use all the help he can get in tracking down all lifts/sources. Knowledge is Power!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bitten by the virus too

Nithya.. I blame you.. You have given me the Ammani Virus too.

I really like the way she puts things. 2 lines of pure thought. Now, I've joined the growing list of fans of her short stories.

Ammani's Filthy, Funny, Flawed, Gorgeous

Interviewers and Interviewees.

Last week, I had my first opportunity to interview a few people for job openings. We were looking to take on an additional person into our team. And boy was it a learning experience!
My sincere advice to people who're looking for jobs.. DON'T put stuff on your resume that you don't know or are not sure of. It just takes credibility away from what you actually know and how well you actually know whatever you know.
Two questions into one of the interviews and I could say that the candidate hadn't done half the things he had claimed to have done on his resume. And I wasn't even a seasoned interviewer! This was for a very senior position, much more senior than mine. I later compared notes with other people who had also interviewed the same person, and all of them felt the same.
If you put something in your resume, well, you are going to be questioned on that for sure. So, watch out! This holds good especially for fresh grads. No one expects you to know everything in the world. You are being interviewed more for potential than your "vast" knowledge. If the interviewer feels that you have the capability to learn, and that you have learnt whatever you have learnt so far, well enough.. you probably will get the job.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Entrance free?

Most citizens of TamilNadu must by now know that the Tamil Nadu government has abolished the Common Entrance Test for all engineering and medical college admissions. This is a very big move for the students of the state considering the fact there are a number of different boards of education in Tamil Nadu. The CBSE and the Tamil Nadu State Boards of education are the most popular amongst them all.
If you think about the impact of this move, I think there's more to be worried about than to be relieved about.
True, it does make things easier. Its just one less thing for the students to worry about. From a State Board student's point of view, why have two exams on the same syllabus? And I guess, most important positive aspect of this move, is that it removes the unfairness quotient for the CBSE students who are expected to learn the entire State Board syllabus in a months time.
But, let us ask ourselves a couple of questions just for a sanity check. Is the Tamil Nadu State Board 12th std. examination such a competent exam that one can decide the future of a student's life based on that result alone? I DON'T THINK SO.
Remember all those horror stories we have all heard about the way the correction is handled. The whims of the person who corrects the paper? I remember my prayers on the morning of my 12th standard public exams. It was more on the lines of "God, let the person correcting my paper be in a good mood!!" than "God, let the question paper be easy". Atleast the Entrance Exams were computer graded which atleast reduced the chance of human error in the correction process.
Speaking about the competency of this exam brings up another issue. Are the marks scored in this exam any indication of anyone's capability in academics? Are they a true indication of the capabilities/intelligence of the individual? I know for sure that I scored more points in my Math paper in the 12th standard board exams because I knew all the questions in the text book and not because I knew how to tackle the problems better.
Guess this event is going to do damage to more people than actually help them out, if it is not handled well. The State Board examinations need a revamp if people's life are going to be decided based on ONLY that one event. I don't have much knowledge about the CBSE board examinations and corrections, so I"ll leave it to other people to comment on that.

Does Dr. JJ have a blog? Can someone give me the URL? I'd like to post a few "comments" on her blog. Any chance that my opinion will count? Nyaaa! Nada! I don't think so!

Bunny Suicide!!

I found these comics amazingly funny..
This one's my favourite

You can find all of them here..

Bunny Suicide Comics

Thanks AP for the link!

Edit : I like this one too.. Goes with the Star Wars season.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

MIT names planets after Kovai girls

MIT names two minor planets after two girls from Coimbatore. The two planets 17091 and 17092 were named Senthalir and Sharanya respectively after P.Senthalir and S.Sharanya from Avila Convent. This was to recognize their achievements in proving that growth could be suppressed using neem oil, in their research paper 'Suppression of Branching Pattern in Eucalyptus Trees'. This was 3 years back when they were in their 11th Std.

Related Link..
MIT names planets after Kovai girls

Think about it. Research doesn't have to be all about computers, electronics, math and so on. It could also mean just looking at our rich heritage and traditions and learning from it. Not all research has to be expensive and path-breaking.. There is still a tonne of things we can show the world by looking into our so called "traditions". There must've definitely be a reason why those traditions came into existence. A lot can be gained by finding new applications for age-old traditions. Way to go Sharanya and Senthalir!!