Thursday, December 21, 2006

The last issue of the Time magazine every year features the person of the year. Its one of the most prestigious of yearly awards internationally and Presidents, business tycoons, athletes, celebrities of all hues and colours want to be on the year end cover of Time. This time around Time decided on a rather strange entity as its Person of the Year.

It selected YOU. Yes, the cover had a picture of a computer with a silver foil in place of the screen.

Pretty neat. The Time argued that with the recent surge in activities on the internet through the use of words, pictures and videos the power had finally beenreturned to where it should always have been. To the PEOPLE.

It is true however that this use of the media has been much more marked in the developed countries like the USA or the nations of western Europe. These have always been places where the public has always been a very important part of the decision making.

However it would be a true year of the people when the voices of the laymen in countries with dictatorships like Cuba or Pakistan is heard and feared by those on the steering wheel. In countries like China and Iran theres a huge level of censorship on the media and what reaches the people. These have to go. Even in countries like India, supposedly the largest democracy of the world, the voice of the common man is barely heard. However things are surely changing.

It would be easier to talk of these changes with a few examples. I will stick to India because that where I am originally from and the I know more of the following examples than I would be if i wrote about something that I had just read on the internet.

The first was the verdict of the Delhi High Court in the Jessica Lall murder case. Jessica Lall was shot dead while she was bartending at Tamarind Court on the evening of April 29, 1999. The chief accused was Manu Sharma, son of Venod Sharma a Minister in Harayana. He was accompanied with amongst others by Vikas Yadav, son of D P Yadav, a minister in UP. The case was initially tried in the trial court of S L Bhayana.

All the accused were acquitted.

Here is where the story usually ends for crimes committed by politicians or their kins. Thats what they thought. They made one simple miscalculation. The power of the people. The verdict outraged the people. The media fuelled the emotions and the people wanted justice. The power of sms, blogs, phones and the communication system as a whole came into full force as a country united to make sure that justice was served. The Delhi police under tremendous public pressure filed appeal against the decision in Delhi High court.

Result, Manu Sharma was awarded life sentence.

Power to the people.....

It would have been really good news but still would not have caused a change the way we look at our judicial system if it was just a one off case. No it was not.

In a series of recent judicial activity there have been some hope. Shibu Soren sentenced for life for killing an aide. Another case was the death sentence to Santosh Kumar Singh, the son of a Police Inspector-General for the rape and murder of Priyadarshani Mattoo.

Not only through the judicial system, but through the electoral process itself, the people of India have made their voices heard. Lalloo Prasad Yadav lost in Bihar which was pretty much unthinkable.

The only other instance that i would like to mention did not happen in India. The people of Nepal rose up in arms to bring down a dictatorship and to setup a democratic process of their own. Yet another time when the fate of a country was decided by the vast majority of its citizens.

Its the best thing to happen. The people have risen, and they mean business.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Heres some more strange news that I just found.

The first one is set in London. We have all heard of those cases where the smoker sues the tobacco company for causing him cancer, of the woman who took her plastic surgeon to court because her silicon breasts after the surgery were not of the same size and so on...However the recent one that I read off seemed a bit too much.

So theres this dude who while working in a bicycle warehouse falls on his head. Well then he goes into coma. Miraculously he gets out of it. And then just as he thought that life was back to normal, he realised that he had somehow turned into this sex maniac. Somehow the fall had so boosted his libido that he had turned to pornography and prostitutes. This caused his newly wed wife to divorce him.
So, he sues his employer and wins 3 million dollar in damages. I mean this is the greatest fall that anybody has ever fallen. You are stupid and fall while working, and what do you get out of it. A boosted libido and 3 million dollars.
I wont be surprised if theres a sudden spurt of "falling on the head" accident at workplace occurs after this news hits the headlines.
I am pretty sure that guy is going to be on a high for sometime. Speaking of high brings me to my next story.

Well, pretty often we see that the USA makes strange decisions. You cannot blame a country for making strange and erratic decisions when their top cash crop is marijuana. yes you heard me right, the top cash crop is MARIJUANA...yes also known as Cannabis, Pot, Hemp, Bhang, Marijuana, Joint, Reefer, Wahupta [Sioux], Dope, Ganja, Smoke, Weed, Hash or what else you want to call your magic poison.
Yeah I thought it would be wheat or corn too. But no its not. Actually the total worth of marijuana produced in the USA is 35 billion dollars which is more than the combined worth of wheat and corn produced annually.

Staying on drugs for my third odd news of the day. I know people act crazy when the are on drugs. But how crazy could you get to actually go up and complain to a cop that you have been sold bad crack. This actually happened. This lady goes upto a cop and takes out a piece of crack and puts it in front of the cop foer him to inspect it. She says that some guy sold her crack mixed with wax and cocaine instead of just the real thing.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Here's some strange news that I have heard recently.
This year's Heisman Trophy was won by OSU quarterback Troy Smith. No thats not the strange news. The strange news is that he was not allowed to carry the trophy on the plane due to security reasons. That to me was strange. I mean being cautious is good, but to suspect that the trophy that has been awarded for the last seventy years will be used as a WMD is a bit of a stretch.
Guess if the Nobel peace prize winner, Mohammed Yunus was to try to enter the USA with his award of the year, he would be in big trouble. Such are the times.
Next strange thing to happen was a shooting. So heres what happened, some young student stole some newly launched PS3. The police goes up to the suspects residence and shoots of the guy. Pretty much as entertaining as a video game.
The stranger part is that the Grand Jury investigating the charges against the cop declares him guilty. Next day theres mor surprise, the Grand Jury says there was a mistake and the wrong box was marked by mistake. They actually wanted to acquit the cop but had pronounced him guilty by mistake.
How dumb is that.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Theres this strange thing about Bollywood. They take really good plots and then about go about perfectly screwing things from then onwards. The result is a yuck movie.
A case in point is Fanaa. If you look at the bare skeleton, it will be obviously strikingly ingenuous.
A blind girl, while on a tour to the capital, falls for a guide. Theres a bomb blast in which the guide supposedy gets killed. In actuality the guide is not killed at all but was the one who caused the bomb blast and then vanishes off into the network unknown faces.
How badly can you screw up with something starting off like this.
Well, pretty badly, if it is made in Bollywood in general and with some directors it would be appaling.
Fanaa happens to be one of the most disappointing movies i have ever watched. What makes it worse is the fact that it could have actually been a really good one.

If you see the teaser above, you will see how well the story is hidden yet attractive to potential audiences. Yeah there are the crazy dance and song sequences, they are something that you just cant make a hindi film without. But you would be going in to the movie expecting something pretty spectacular. And when you realise the true identity of Aamir Khan just before interval you expect a movie that is not going to be really another messed up job. But thats what it is ultimately.
I was so disappointed with this movie.

Speaking of hindi movies without songs i think the only one i can remember is Kaun. A truly remarkable movie with only four member cast and shot completely inside a house. One of the really good hindi movies that I have seen.

Friday, December 08, 2006

For those of you wondering how I am coping with the cold, heres an update. This is the forecast of the weather at Chapel Hill for the next five days. And it does not look sunny, literally.

Every time I say its too cold to anyone willing to hear the same familiar complaint from me for the millionth time, all they say is"Its not cold yet, wait for a few more days". Pretty encouraging to a guy who has always seen winters like,

and then was spoilt by some more winter of the same sort last year.

It seems that it is only going to get colder, and a smart way to solve the problem as suggested by my friends Krishanu, Sanhita and Saurish is to get together at a place which has weather like this:

Guys haven't you heard that you are supposed to go south for winter, or were you guys always in the southern hemisphere. Last week of the year in Rchester is not a good idea.

However the only other place I might go for December is Columbus which has a weather like:

Waiting for summer.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I usually am pretty happy posting two articles every month, so if there are two posts in a day, there has to be some inspiration. Well, to be inspired by the idiot box should bnot be a good sign. However thats exactly what happened.

Firstly there was Family Guy on tv and they were showing the episode where Stewie beats up Brian real bad for money. I just loved the show. Heres it for all you people.

The other one was on CNBC. Yes sometimes I do watch some of that serious stuff as well.

What got my attention initially to the show was that on a high profile chat show in the USA there were this two gentlemen who happened to be akumni of my undergraduate and graduate colleges back home. It was a show about how India is the new hub of economic boom. The guest were the current Indian minister of commerce, Kamal Nath who did his B. Com from St. Xavier's College, Kolkata and he was accompanied by the CEO of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani, an alumnus of IIT Bombay.

Feels good to know that the institutes that I attended made such movers and shakers.
The wheel has finally turned, after the season of football infamy in which unc lost all but 2 of their games , good thing they beat both the close-by schools though, its time for some winning. I was constantly being told that once the basketball season started things would be real GOOOOOOOOD. And it has been till now, but for the odd loss to Ginzaga, the Tarheels have been GOOOOOOOOD. Besides basketball the other game that makes UNC the real champions are the women's soccer team. They seem to be on their way to their to their 17th national championships. Considering that the NCAA championships started only in 1982, making this the 25th year that is as ood a record in college championships that you will ever see.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Its time to thank all my students for being able to tolerate me for 9 lab sessions (phew...if I was teaching myself for 9 sessions...I would be pissed).
Honestly guys you had made the lab sessions really enjoyable, and made my transition to the American way of life a lot simpler. I come from a part of the world were theres always loads of people around and always somebody to talk to, and i sorely missed that in Chapel Hill. So the lab sessions were a really refreshing two hours, when I could interact with so many people at the same time ( I am pretty confident nobody else thought of the labs as refreshing...I wouldnt if I were in your position). So those of you stayed on the lab late was actually doing me a favour ;).

Although this might sound really cliched, but I think I learnt a lot more than I taught from the time I spent with you guys in the lab. I will be honest, its true that compared to what we were taught at high school you people start off a rung below. However, what I was really surprised with is the amount of effort that each of you put in to learn new stuff. And honestly I have seen very few of my peers back at home put that amount of effort in. The way each of you went about trying to do the job as best as you could. It might seem like something very natural to you but to me it was pretty surprising.

If I was the one in charge I would have given each of you a 100 for each lab just for the effort you put in. Its been great teaching you guys.

I wish you all the very best.