Monday, September 21, 2009


Lying alone in a cesspool of despair
He searches for a ray of hope
A lone straw to cling on to
But all he finds is regret
And the icy claw of solitude
There are no seasons here in the abyss
No springtime ewes, nor a summer breeze
But forever a frigid winter
Black as the void within
An eternal silence envelops him
Broken only by the faint murmur of his heart
It grows fainter and fainter still
As he sinks deeper into the mire
But lo! Now the nightmare ends; his eyes reveal
The red glow of dawn

Sunday, September 06, 2009


One problem with the executive lunch is that you need to strike a fine balance between holding up the conversation and stuffing your face. I found that out the hard way, when a travelling neurophysicist (no relation to the travelling salesman) visited us last week.

Lunch was taken after a rather elucidatory morning session that set me up nicely for a chicken sandwich on toasted panini bread. Having procured the said c.s. on the toasted p.b., I proceeded immediately to wolf it down in large mouthfuls, as is my wont. Our guest however, was in the mood for further discourse.

"Take for instance the hippocampus", he discoursed to the gathering around the table. "A fascinating organ, for sure. We know it is part of the limbic system, but no one knows how it stores memories. People whose hippocampi were injured in an accident have memories of before the accident, but have trouble forming new memories.

"That's because the brain maintains long-term and short-term memories differently, but even among these, names of people, places and things seem to be stored separately. What's more, the capacity to retain these different memories varies from one person to the next. For example, I could tell you the zip codes of all the places I've visited over the last three years, but wouldn't be able to address the gentleman next to me, whom I've met just today, by name."

Having the dubious distinction of being the gentleman next to him, I suddenly found the man pointing in my general direction. It seemed that he expected me to provide the missing information. However, having just chomped off a massive mouthful of the sandwich, I was in no position to provide much of anything other than half-chewed pieces of chicken sandwich on toasted panini bread. I gulped hurriedly, took a sip of water and mumbled something to the tune of "Mmmpfff Nnrarrgh".

The effort obviously didn't appease him. "I'm sorry, what was that again?" he smiled politely. I did the gulp-and-sip routine and tried again. "Growrr Mprinay".

The man just smiled. He was obviously taking some sort of perverse pleasure in watching me squirm. As precious seconds ticked by, I could feel the gaze of the entire table upon me. A lesser man might have panicked, maybe even choked; but not me. No sir. In a flash of inspiration, I reached into my wallet, pulled out my business card and plopped it neat on to the table.

Our guest was taken aback. The smug smile vanished from his lips. He stared at the card on the table. Then at me. Then at the card again. He knew he had been bested. "Ah, thank you", he finally muttered, visibly shaken. Trying his best not to appear flustered, he changed the subject to his favourite topic. "As I was saying... the hippocampus... uh-huh, the limbic system, of which the hippocampus is a part... memorizes forms... I mean, forms memories..." It was my turn to smile a subtle smile, as I quietly egged him on. He did his best, but the quiet self-assuredness had somehow left his voice. After a rather subdued remainder of the lunch, he shook a few hands and made a hurried exit. For my part, I pocketed the card still lying on the table, and slunk away back to my office. I had other, more important things on my mind. "Perhaps next time I'll try the turkey on rye instead", I remember thinking to myself.

Monday, August 24, 2009


A long time ago, in a land far away, lived a dragon in his deep, dark lair. He was an impressive dragon, as dragons go. With massive wings on which he would soar high amidst the clouds. Scales that shone with the fury of the sun. His talons could split a rock asunder, his breath singe a tree to ash. Grown men would reel at the mere thought of him. The forest itself trembled when he roared.

One Spring morning, the dragon descended from his lair to roam the land. All creatures of the forest, far and wide, ran and hid in their burrows to escape the wrath of the beast. All but the wise snake, who lay quietly in the middle of the road, basking by the glow of the morning sun.

As the dragon swaggered through the forest, he came across the snake. "Are you not scared of me, to lie in my path", he bellowed, "Or do you grow tired of this life?"

"And why should I be scared of you, dragon?", asked the snake, unperturbed.

The dragon was less than amused. "Do you not know me? I am the great dragon lord. The most terrible of all the great beasts. No man can tame me, no beast can withstand me. I have conquered the land and the seas. Reduced great kingdoms to dust. Slain valiant knights in their shining armours. And never once have I lost as much as a scale. No one in all the lands dare challenge my might. You must be a fool not to fear me."

The snake remained unmoved. "Indeed you are strong and brave, dragon. But tell me this, have you truly won all your battles?"

On hearing this, the dragon hung his head in shame.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Itch

Among other self-indulgences during my sabbatical from this blog, I have been indulging myself in a bit of football (or soccer, as it is called in these parts). To be honest, I was a little apprehensive taking to the field after all these years. But to my credit, I haven't done half bad. I've rediscovered some of my dribbling skills, been pretty useful in defense, and to everyone's astonishment, have even managed to score the odd goal or two. All this while getting some much needed exercise.

If there's a downside to all of this, it has to be the bugs. Mosquitoes mostly. And other pesky, blood-sucking arthropods. The field's literally littered with them. You hardly notice them during the game itself, but then end up spending the next three days scratching yourself silly. Especially during those long, pointless meetings where the mind wanders all too readily.

All this vigorous scratching has got me thinking. What's the point of the mosquito, anyway. What grand purpose could this most noisome of species serve? Other than to disprove the theory of creationism, that is. Think about it. What twisted, spiteful god could deem it fit to create such a vile prophet of doom? How sick and demented would a grand creator have to be to spawn such an unearthly pestilence, a slubberdegullion parasite on the underbelly of helminth, presumably in its own image?

Don't bother answering that. I think it may be a rhetorical question.

So that's it, you ask. The first post in over a year, and it's some half-baked ramble on bloodsucking vermin. Is that how it is going to be?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shatner West '08

You know it's election season in the US when you see political bumper stickers crop up on the back of cars. The 2004 election gave us a few gems -- from the racy "Flush the Johns" to the risqué "Go Brazilian, No Bush". In 2008, while McCain dwells upon the choice of his deputy and the Democrats sort out their candidate, bumper sticker manufacturers have decided to get a headstart on things.

Driving back home late last evening, I notice that the car in front of me has already chosen its candidate for the elections. "Shatner West '08" it proclaims proudly on its bumper.

At first I couldn't help but marvel at the brilliance of such a team. The sheer bravado, the flamboyant clichés, the immense spandex-coated combined girth. This pair would be undefeatable. But then something caught my attention. The sticker said "Shatner-West" and not "West-Shatner". That would imply that Adam West would be the running mate for William Shatner. Now with all due credit to Captain Kirk and his shenanigans, Batman doesn't play second fiddle to anyone. If anything, it is Shatner who should be second-in-command to West. Be the robin to his caped crusader, so to say. After all, when the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House, wouldn't you rather have a president who's been answering flashing red phones all his life in his secret lair? Or would you rather have a bumbling leader whose default response to a crisis is to make out with foreign chicks and wait for a pointy-eared vulcan to come and resolve the situation?

Adam West a vice-president to William Shatner? I think not.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Disturbing Mental Imagery

Among other news, the most disturbing mental image of the year is brought to you by Mr. ManBearPig himself. The half man, half bear and half pig creature, otherwise known as Matthew Hayden, gives us a distressingly detailed account of his squatting habits in a recent interview with Cricinfo:

I go to the middle, I mark the crease and I squat on the wicket. I feel grounded when I do that. It's like a centring process. It's like, I'm out in this amazing place with millions across the world watching but right now I'm feeling very solid here. I don't say these things aloud but I just feel it every time I go out there. The middle of the cricket ground is the most comfortable place on earth for me.
To borrow a phrase from Frasier, I hope you'll excuse me while I go and poke out my mind's eye.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


BBC reports, rather gleefully, that Tehran's anti-vice police chief has been arrested after being found with six naked women in a house of prostitution.
Local media have reported that General Reza Zarei was found with six naked women in a house of prostitution in the Iranian capital last month.
He has been taken to jail while his case is investigated, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said.
Gen Zarei was in charge of enforcing Iran's strict anti-vice laws, which include a ban on prostitution.
I think the general is being unfairly prosecuted. I'm sure he was just trying to keep those dirty, immoral women off the streets. Protect the impressionable youth and all that. And this is the reward he gets for his tireless efforts to eradicate vice. Tch!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mystery Wag

While browsing through some of the Cricket blogs of late, I chanced upon Paul Holden's Sideline Slogger. Holden, despite being a Kiwi cricket fan, or possibly because of it, has a rather distinctive funny side to his musings. What really caught my eye, though was Question 4 in one of his recent posts 11 Questions, Queries and Appeals
Is this a gratuitous question being used as an excuse to include a photo of the English players’ WaGs?
The question is accompanied by a rather nice picture of the English WaGs, and the answer of course is "Yes, it is actually".

But that is not what this post is about.

If you look closely at that picture of the WaGs, you'll notice a rather singular figure at the back, dressed in red, wearing a floppy hat that must have been quite fashionable in the days of David Gower. Now for the life of me, I cannot figure out whose wife/girlfriend that distinguished looking lady is. And it's a question that's been keeping me awake at night.

Could she be Kevin Pietersen's hot new girlfriend we keep hearing so much about? Or could she be the future Mrs. Sidebottom? Or maybe she's just Andrew Strauss' mum who's popped in to check if her boy's been behaving himself. If that is indeed the case, it would explain a lot.

If anyone has a clue, please let me know.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Third Time's the Charm

If I have a vice - and I have a few - it is that ever so often I tend to give in to sudden fits of impulse. It was one such impulse that found me late Wednesday evening in that rarely-visited dungeon of human torture, also known as the gym in the basement.

Having made my way to the dungeon, I flailed around my limbs for a full ten minutes, before deciding that I'd had enough, and returned quietly to my quarters feeling rather pleased with my efforts. Alas, we must all pay a price for our indulgence.

I woke up next morning to a badly sprained left shoulder and a rather sore back. Normally, this wouldn't have been a cause for worry. I would simply have uttered some profanities, swore never to visit the gym again (or to get in shape, depending on the mood), and slept it off over the weekend. This however, was no ordinary weekend. This was the weekend I was supposed to attend the Somewhere Back in Time concert in New York.

I had been planning for the concert for months. Had booked tickets well in advance, made travel arrangements, had detailed contingency plans in order. I wasn't going to let a little niggle get in the way. Still, as anyone who's been to a Maiden concert will tell you, it's rather difficult to headbang with a sprained shoulder and sore back. I pointed this out to Curly as we drove towards the Continental arena.

"I don't think I'll be prancing around much during the concert. You know, with the sprained shoulder and all. This is going to have to be one of those concerts where you sit quietly and enjoy the music."
"Hmmm..." Curly replied.

Something in his tone led me to believe he wasn't quite convinced. I decided to let him know that I was serious.
"I'm serious, mate. Don't think I'll be banging any heads tonight. Besides, there is nothing wrong with behaving like a civilised being at a rock concert"
"Mm Hmmm...", Curly insisted.

We got to the Continental arena ahead of time, for a change, and proceeded to find our seats. And what seats they were - Lower level, second row. Just one row (and the mosh pit) removed from the stage. "What about these seats, eh?" I gushed. "You couldn't possibly get better seats". Technically of course, you could get better seats. You could get first row seats, right in front of us. But I let technicalities slide.

Soon it was time for the show to begin. Lauren Harris and her band entertained for a while. After a bit of a lull, Doctor, Doctor boomed across the sound system, followed by a montage of the tour to the tune of Transylvannia on the big screen. Then the lights dimmed, and the crowd roared. The bugle had sounded, and the charge had begun. The bugle in this case being an excerpt from Churchill's famous "We will fight them on the beaches" speech, and the charge a power-packed rendition of Aces High. I found myself springing to my feet along with 20,000 delirious fans screaming

"There goes the siren that warns of the air raid
There comes the sound of the guns sending flak"

Steve Harris gets dangerously close to a mikeSomeone behind me tapped me on the shoulder. "Sir, do you mind not moving your hands so much. It's difficult to see the stage". So much for sitting quietly and enjoying the concert like civilised men. Oh, well.

Eddie gets a guitar lesson from H.As the night moved on, the hits kept rolling out one after another (complete set-list here). It's difficult to pick a single highpoint in the evening. Maybe it was the near-perfect rendition of Revelations. Or the rousing charge of The Trooper. Or perhaps it was the majestic PowerSlave with its impressive light shows. Oh, and then there was Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a fourteen-minute masterpiece that held the entire arena in thrall. The song has long been a favourite of mine, but listening to it live was quite something else.

The TroopersThe show maintained its feverish tempo right through to the end, concluding with the soulful Clairvoyant and the customary Hallowed be Thy Name. I was on my feet the entire time, of course, screaming at the top of my lungs. Despite the sprained shoulder, sore back et al., I did not feel spent. In fact, I was just getting warmed up. I could have gone on all night. The day after, however, would have been a different story.

Seven Deadly Sins...The band was in great form, as usual. Bruce led from the front in style, as the crowd tried, in vain, to match his cries. I could have sworn I heard glass shatter during his scream in Run to the Hills. Janick kept up his whirlwind act, running around the stage, as the two old hands Dave and Adrian recreated their magic of old. Steve could often be seen in the corner singing aloud the words to his songs, luckily nowhere near a mike. Nicko was content just being Nicko. It's all he has to do to keep the crowd entertained. But most importantly, the band was quite clearly enjoying themselves. They seemed to be having as much fun, if not more, as the fans. There were no clashing egos here, no bitter angst. Just some plain old blokes from East London having a good time doing what they do best. It's probably the reason why they've been around so long.

What's with the psychedelic drum-kit, Nicko?All in all, it was, without a doubt, the best Maiden concert I've attended so far. The first one was special - the first time always is - but was way too short. The second one was longer, but didn't have all the big hits. This one was more satisfying. It had everything a fan could ask for - a popular set-list, elaborate stage sets, and a longer playing time (though the concert never seems long enough, if you ask me). In the end, as always, I was left craving for more.

The good news though is that Maiden aren't done quite as yet. There will surely be other shows to attend. In fact, the band will be returning to these shores again in the summer. Rest assured, I will be there cheering them on. And this time, I might just get those front row tickets.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bull's Bottom Blamed for Stock Market Crash

This week, in an unprecedented spectacle of synchronized nosediving, stock markets across the world nosedived spectacularly. Almost immediately, experts cropped up all over the place, trying to explain this catastrophic event. "It's because of the US sub-prime crisis", noted a surly man in a suit. "It's a grave portent of recession", informed a shrill-voiced Asian correspondent. None of this placated the traders however. No amount of frowning, scowling or jowl scratching from any of the reporters provided a convincing enough answer. And as the markets kept plunging, the mystery deepened.

That was till the ingenious traders at the Bombay Stock Exchange finally cracked it. The global nosedive they found out, was caused by the offensive posterior of the bull placed in front of the BSE. The newly erected statue of the bull was apparently placed in the BSE with its buttocks pointing towards the traders, which quite clearly is an inauspicious poition. And unless the bull turned around and repositioned its behind according to astrological charts, the traders forewarned, the sensex would continue to plunge downwards.

With all this talk of bull posteriors, one is tempted to slip in a pun about the excrement that egresses from the aforementioned b.p. However, I shall refrain from making any dung-related puns, and instead shall redirect you to this video of Carl Sagan on Astrology.

It's astounding how many people still believe in the pseudo-science of Astrology, despite the fact that there is not one logical argument in its defense. Like Carl Sagan says towards the end of the clip
How could it possibly work? How could the rising of Mars at the moment of my birth affect me, then or now. I was born in a closed room. Light froom Mars couldn't get in. The only influence of Mars that could affect me was its gravity. But the gravitational influence of the obstetrician was much larger than the gravitational influence of Mars. Mars is a lot more massive, but the obstetrician was a lot closer.
Indeed. To flog the already overemphasized point, let's put it in numbers. Using the formula g=GM/r2, to calculate the gravitational pull of a body, we calculate the gravitational influence of Mars as

gMars = G × MMars/rMars2
where, G = 6.673 × 10-11 m3/kg s2
MMars = Mass of Mars: 6.42 × 1023 kg
Average distance of Mars from Earth: 230 million km

Thus, gMars = 8.1 × 10-10 m/s2

The corresponding pull of an obstetrician weighing say 85 kg, standing 10 cm from the baby is gobs = 5.65 × 10-5 m/s2. That is an order of magnitude 5 times as much as for the planet Mars. And that's not even taking into account the gravitational pull of the nurses, the operating room or even the hospital. So much for being under the influence.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chimp Denied Personhood

The Austrian Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, has decreed that chimpanzees, 98% shared DNA notwithstanding, cannot be deemed human. This groundbreaking ruling was passed against Matthew Hiasl Pan, a chimp of Sierra Leonese descent hoping to be adopted by an animal rights group.

As is often the case in such cases, the Matthew Hiasl Pan case revolves around certain vast sums of money. Matthew had apparently managed to procure these v. s. of m. through secret channels, and was looking forward to spending the rest of his days living in lavish opulence including, but not limited to, consuming massive quantities of musa lolodensis. The Supreme Court, however, was having none of it, and announced that only humans belonging to the genus homo sapiens can have personhood conferred upon them. Quite right too, if you ask me. Can't be going around conferring personhood on just about anyone. You make one concession today, and soon you'll have damned dirty apes running amok all over the place, forming trade unions, taking over our jobs, demanding equal representation in the parliament. That sort of thing.

The ruling has been widely hailed as a decisive victory for humankind. Especially by the section of society that takes offense at being equated to a simian.

At this point, you, the astute reader may be thinking "A-ha, I see what he's doing here". You are thinking that I'm going to use this as a segue to the monkey-gate scandal down under. That I will insinuate certain members of the Australian cricket team share more than just their first name with Matthew. Or that I will make a pass at how Darwin was convinced of the theory of evolution only after he visited the Southern continent. Perhaps even suggest that Andrew Symonds be deported to Austria.

I shall do no such thing.

You racist pig!

Monday, January 14, 2008

In Defense of Sloth

Dante had it wrong. Sloth is no sin, deadly or otherwise. If anything it is a virtue. A gift. A unique trait, cultivated through centuries of evolution, that has contributed greatly towards the success of our species. Yet, for eons sloth has been looked down upon as a sign of weakness. An excuse for inertia. An evil that restrains creativity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is sloth a noble pursuit, it is the driving force for all human progress.

It is often argued that technology has made us lazy. I scoff at the notion, and aver that it is not technology that induces laziness, but laziness that has given birth to technology. Almost every major invention that's ever taken place has been motivated by laziness. It was the reluctance to walk that extra mile that gave us the wheel. An aversion to physical labour that led to the industrial revolution. Just think about it. Where would you be if the remote control - that most remarkable symbol of languid indolence - were not invented. All the way across the room trying to change the channel, that's where.

Slowly but surely, people across the world are starting to give sloth its due. Last week witnessed one such celebration in Bogota, Colombia. In an unprecedented event, the museum of Bogota organized a week-long exhibit dedicated to laziness, inviting people to lie down, slouch and generally indulge in avoidance of work. Needless to say, the exhibit was a big hit. Maybe someday such museums will be commonplace, celebrating the joys of sloth all over the world. I, for one, would be first in line to get in. Or maybe not. It sounds like too much effort.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sledge of the Month

"Why is Michael Clarke called 'pup' by his teammates?"
"Well, you know. Because he is such a sonuvabitch"

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Trippy Nostalgia

While still on the 80s, I can't but help dwell upon Vishal Patel's website.

Vishal captures brilliantly the essence of growing up in India during the 80s with a series of brilliant, witty posts, whether it be lampooning Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu and their inane adventures, tripping over Champak's psychedelic stories or simply reliving childhood memories through ads in Tinkle. It takes you back to a more innocent time. And let's face it, a truly bizarre decade.

'Nuff said. Go check the site for yourself.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Stone Roses

Ah, memories! Those bittersweet remnants of a time that has been. The reminiscence of the good old days that we may never re-live, but will always cherish.

Some people remember faces. Some others recollect places. Me, I tend to associate my memories with music. Some of my fondest memories are associated with the album I was listening to at the time. Not all albums persist in memory, mind you. Only the really special ones. The ones that are as cherished as the memories themselves.

I will always associate, for instance, my first job with Judas Priest's Painkiller. The senior year in college with Animals. My trip to Chennai with Somewhere in Time. And the last couple of months of grad school - the most traumatic, soul-wrenching couple of months that anyone can experience - when I was trying to 'write-up' my dissertation shall always, in my mind, be associated with The Stone Roses.

Now there are those of you who at this point would say , "The Stone Roses! But isn't that 80s pop". To you I shall respond, "Yes, it is 80s pop. But it is bloody good 80s pop".

To be honest, categorizing an album like The Stone Roses as 80s pop would be most unfair. Sure it is Brit pop. And sure it was released in the 80s. But it is unlike anything that was released in the 80s, or any other decade for that matter. When every other record was sticking to formulaic bubblegum pop, here was an album that not only shunned the contemporary, but quite simply invented a whole new genre.

The album, the band's self-titled debut, was released in 1989 and almost immediately had cult status conferred upon it by fans and critics alike. Cleverly blending music from the London underground with 60s rock, it introduced a completely novel sound to Brit pop (the band was among the first to incorporate wah wah guitars in a mainstream album, for instance). With its haunting guitar riffs and distinctive underground feel, the album provided a template for new age groups like Oasis and Blur, and in 2006 was ranked by NME as the number 1 album in its "100 Greatest British Albums Ever" list.

Although the album is remarkably consistent, for me the standout songs would have to be Don't Stop and I am the Resurrection. That's not to say that I don't like the other songs. It's just that these two (both songs are about perseverance and overcoming adversity) seemed to appeal especially to me at the time, given the predicament I faced.

If you haven't yet heard the album, and this apology of a review doesn't convince you of its greatness, go buy the album and listen to it for yourself. If you still remain unconvinced however, then I scoff at you. Scoff, I say. At you, no less.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bear Escapades

By now you've surely heard of Gillian Gibbons and her teddy bear misadventure. It all started when Ms. Gibbons, a British teacher in Sudan, allowed one of her pupils to name his teddy bear Muhammad. Little did she realize that in a country ravaged by years of civil war; a country in the throes of severe drought and famine; a country where free speech and basic civil rights have become a luxury, people would get offended by an innocuous teddy bear.

But offended they were. To the extent that thousands took to the streets to protest against this ghastly deed. Off with her head, and all that. It got to the point where Gibbons was sentenced to 15 days in prison to pacify the crowds, before being whisked away to the UK to avoid further damage.

All's well that ends well, you say. Sure, it does. If you're Gillian Gibbons. But what about Muhammad, the teddy bear? Spare a thought for poor little Muhammad. Ever since this whole controversy erupted, he's had all sorts of clerics and imams baying for his blood (er, stuffing?). At the last count, he had at least 5 fatwas issued against him. As a result of all this, Muhammad has had to flee his home in Khartoum and has gone into hiding to protect his fur.

With his own countrymen up in arms against him, and even the National Teddy Bear Association disowning him for 'bringing the society into disrepute', Muhammad can't help feel isolated. But there are still those who defend him. After all, they argue, Muhammad didn't choose his name himself. It was given to him by those pesky schoolchildren. If anyone is to be persecuted for this blasphemy, it must be those kids, who have very deftly washed their hands off the entire issue.

The only saving grace for Muhammad in all of this is that despite all the baying and the fatwas, no one has been able to trace him thus far. This is probably because of the fact that no one really knows what he looks like. It is, after all, prohibited in Islam to publish a picture of Muhammad.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Each One is Different

For more than a mile it fell, meandering its way through clouds and fog, finally coming to rest on the windshield of my car. The first snowflake of the season. The harbinger of Yule and good tidings. Of a weather whose only colour is fair. Of snowstorms and icy rain. And the bitter frost that bites through the flesh.

The snowflake lay on my windshield for the briefest of moments. Then it melted away into nothingness.

But its life was not spent in vain. Like a scouting driver ant, it had left a toxic trail along its path. Soon the others will be here. Thousands at first, then in their billions. Relentless, they'll march on, till the earth is covered with the white plague. A super-organism of immense proportions that'll lay claim to everything in its path. None shall escape the vice like grip of its icy talons. Helpless, we must lie and wait till the great yellow face arrives in all its fury and burns away the hordes. But for now, the yellow face is far away. And the hordes draw near.

Sitting in my car, I shiver just a little.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Cure

Did you hear about this new illness recently uncovered in Tamil Nadu? It is a rare but terminal disorder brought upon by throwing stones at stray dogs. Symptoms may include partial paralysis and loss of hearing in one ear. Though not congenital, the disease may be more commonly prevalent than was previously believed. The only known cure is to consult an astrologer and get married to a dog to atone for your sins.

Oh wait. There is no cure for stupidity. Sorry.

Monday, November 12, 2007

South Africa Remove Racial Quotas

South Africa has dropped the racial quota system for coloured players. Making the announcement, the South African sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile admitted that the quotas actually did more harm than good and were useful "only for window dressing for international consumption". Instead of having reservations in international teams, Stofile emphasized that the focus would switch to helping black athletes at the grassroots level by investing £15m a year.

Perhaps there is a lesson in there for Indian politics. Sports is, after all, a mirror of society. Hope Messrs. Arjun Singh and co. are listening.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Douglas Adams Had it Right

The answer is forty-two. That is indisputable. However, it raises an interesting question - "What exactly is the Question?"

The Question has troubled mankind since the dawn of time. Since that fateful day ten million years ago when Deep Thought awoke from his slumber, to be precise. Over the years, many different theories have been proposed to seek this elusive question. They range from the philosophical ("How many roads must a man walk down?") to the mythical ("How many gallons of beer does a barrel hold?"), to the outright abstruse ("What is the orbital period of a grazing satellite whose orbital radius, R is equal to the radius of the Earth?"). None of these, however, seem satisfactory.

The most popular theory for the Question was propounded by Douglas Adams himself. In Adams' book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the protagonists Arthur and Ford try to decipher the ultimate question by drawing scrabble tiles out of a bag. As a result, they come up with the perplexing query, "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

Now this question stumped many, since six by nine is clearly fifty-four and not forty-two. It continued to stump many with unerring regularity until someone cleverly pointed out that six multiplied by nine could indeed be forty-two, if computed in base 13, rather than base 10.

This was widely hailed as an astute observation.

However, it failed to impress the cynics. They claimed that it didn't really resolve the issue, but merely substituted one number for another. Instead of trying to find out why forty-two was the ultimate answer, now they had to figure why the number thirteen was central to the ultimate question.

Once again, several heads were scratched, and several theories bounced about, but none proved conclusive. Until that is Itzhak Bars, a theoretical physicist from USC, revealed that he had finally cracked it.

The Universe, according to Bars, consists of a total of thirteen dimensions as opposed to eleven, as was previously believed. Having a thirteen dimensional Universe would not only resolve the conflict between string theory and quantum mechanics, but would solve pretty much all known problems in Physics, providing us with the elusive "Theory of Everything".

If Bars is right, the ultimate answer, the universal question and all the mysteries of the universe have all finally been solved. All that remains to do now is to sit back, light up the proverbial pipe, and wait for the Universe to implode.

If however, you are still reading this, and the Universe shows no signs of imploding, it is very likely that someone somewhere has found a fourteenth or perhaps even a fifteenth dimension, and this entire post is moot. In which case, we apologise for the inconvenience.