Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Amusing Pop Culture Moment of the Month.

Gay black guy(aptly titled Miss J): Go girl! You look so mean honey, that you've got what it takes to become America's Next Top Model!

Girl(bursts into tears and) babbles: I'm for Jesus Christ. Y'know he wants me... to help the world. And I... will do whatever he wants me to do! *Attempts to brush non-existent tears off without ruining makeup*
I do not watch crappy television. I don't watch television at all. But this gem of a thing was on youtube's homepage. I couldn't resist. And I ended up watching all of it. Which at one point also included a cheerleader with a broken leg, hopping down a ramp with crutches. With a STILETTO on the one surviving foot!

Considering the doses I receive on a regular basis, I was convinced that I had definitely acquired an immunity towards stupidity. But this is just overkill.

There was also this woman who claimed she could castrate a hundred cows a day. And went on to describe the procedure. With the hackneyed hilly-billy southern American accent. That, was the golden moment. She's a frikkin' messiah by those standards. It seems, the day is saved. Hallelujah!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Impropriety and Indulgence.

Pingu: There's fizz coming out. Out of my NOSE!
...and I'm trying to maintain COMPOSSSSSSSZZUUUURRRREEEEEEE...!!!

Me : *giggle* *snort* *giggle*
You think there's any way of finding out if we're talking too loud?

Pingu: And why does that guy across the room have horse-blinkers on?

We got our answer.
Wisdom is a Tamil-Brahmin best friend.
P.S. I survived the week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lets Talk About...


First, my exams clash with Journo Junction at Kamala Nehru College. Like it happens every year. Now, it's taken me an immense amount of time and effort to accept that fact, and gain some semblance of having moved on. But THIS, is just ridiculous! Just when I had Meet The Media at IP College for a much-deserved compensation, all hell breaks loose. The HOD slams a project presentation on my head. Which means I have a 120-page dissertation to write, edit, format , print and get spiral-bound, a presentation to prepare, and a viva to study for. All in 2 days flat. This, in addition to enough pending practical files and assignments to dive into and drown.

To set the record straight, KNC was my version of Narnia. I managed to grab a brief stint there in the Journalism department before fate socked me in the jaw. Pity, because now whenever I'm studying higher calculus and butting my head into a wall the night before an exams, I tend to fantasize about the "what-ifs", all winding down to the same choice I made. I still have a very prevalent soft-corner not just for KNC and journalism itself, but the acquaintances I have from that time as well. Though I spent very little time there, it's something I ruminate over enough for it to be a bit of a problem sometimes.

The choice I made was based on ground realities. They're not going to change. Logic rules the head. The heart, however, has an inclination towards reckless abandon. I don't regret anything I've done. But there are times when one knows that a time-machine would have been a convenient invention. Some amount of regression is to be expected.

My apologies to Anty and Just ME.
You have no idea how much I wanted this.

I could turn into Hulk right about now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Heat and Dust.

Author : Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Genre : Historical Fiction
Rating : 5.5/10

It's the Indian Connection. I am aware of how authors of the subcontinent seem to fascinate my contemporaries. But I have always found myself drawn to books written about India, by expat novelists. It comes down to the fact that I like to sneak a glimpse of the world through someone else's eyes. Someone whose sense of perception is completely different from mine, owning to vast degrees of separation in geographical location, cultural upbringing, schools of thought and social conditioning(or the lack of it). That, as opposed to being told how I could have viewed it differently myself.

Set as a contrast palette between pre and post-colonial India, Heat and Dust is the story of two women and their discovery of India, for all that it is. Olivia, the Schumann-playing, bored wife of an English civil servant posted in Satipur and the other, her step-granddaughter, who travels to the country in search of Olivia's story. Her story of days spent in monotony, stifled by the norms of propriety imposed upon her in a segregated society, and eventual elopement with an Indian prince. With several threads of discontent sewn in between, about and around. Held together through ruins, old letters and an almost-poignant narrative, the book weaves a tale of people and places, without quite capturing the protagonist's psyche. One expects more complexity of character, and is left wanting. Which is a pity really, considering how the storyline leaves no dearth of opportunity for the same. Page through page, depth is blatantly conspicuous by it's absence.

Occasionally, Prawer's impressive capabilities peak out of their shell and surprise you. But then again, they seem to possess an unfortunate love for playing hide-and-seek. An instance of the same may be cited here, for posterity:
"Fortunately, during my first few months here, I kept a journal, so I have some record of my early impressions. If I were to try and recollect them now, I might not be able to do so. They are no longer the same because I myself am no longer the same. India always changes people, and I have been no exception."

To be fair, it does draw to a magnificent close. The climax is superbly laid out. Striking as it is, it is typical for books of the genre to have their beginnings and middles carved out flawlessly like a marble sculpture, with their ends mildly disfigured and abrupt. However, with this particular one, one is left with nothing more to say. Except, that an ending as beautiful as this, deserves a better story to precede it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Confession #2

Lady GaGa is growing on me. Like a parasitic creeper.

Over the past few days of excessive sleep-deprivation, crazy deadlines, and general hysteria, I have been found to be jiving to Poker Face. In the most unbecoming of fashions, inappropriate of places and inopportune of times.

Someone shoot me now.
Or, witness the gradual deterioration.
I've been hoping it's a temporary lapse of judgment owing to the aforementioned hysteria. I KNOW it's atrocious. I really do.

But guess what's playing in the background right now?
*goes back to the jivin'!*

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Of Exams, Spirituality, and *The Secret*.

Yet another set of annoyances coming up this Monday. Six consecutive days of books, sleep deprivation, bipolar tendencies, and the sort of study that leaves your brain feeling like a mere caricature of itself. Like the pineapple-flavored jelly that NEVER sets, and ALWAYS ends up as a gooey, yucky reminder of itself. (Which, by the way, is because of the bromelain enzyme that interferes with gelatin. I think.)

Also, it amuses me how commercialized the "Law of Attraction" mumbo-jumbo has become, all thanks to Rhonda Byrne and The Secret. This is literally the wisdom and philosophy, spread over thousands of years and across civilizations , packaged into colorful cartoon-illustrated tin-cans and dished out to people who will eat anything up for its face value. Sure, it made the concept accessible. But this is essentially the difference between learning Tai Chi on a year-long pilgrimage to Tibet, and claiming redemption and a higher plane of consciousness through a DVD of Claudia Schiffer-brand yoga.

People, to set the record straight, that's not how it goes. This is the sort of stuff that makes those perennially high-on-weed, clueless hippies sound like enlightened monks, in contrast. There's a reason why questions of existence and all that jazz, has troubled thinkers right from the days of Hipparchia(who was one spunky woman, may I add). Spiritual growth is a long, painful, but fulfilling journey. I will not be presumptuous and pretend to be an expert in the matter. But even my layman self is aware of the fact that a how-to guide will never give you what even fruitless exploration will. Because in matters such as these, the question we deal with does not lie entirely within the concluding argument. The nature of the question itself changes many times over, during the course of this journey. It is impossible for our instinct to judge right from wrong, unless it has had a taste of both. We never experience true satisfaction without having experienced the nagging discomfort of dissatisfaction. Ergo, we will never realize the perfection of the final solution, unless we have had a first-hand experience of the erroneous "almost-truths" and "semi-conclusions". The stumbles and falls, months of intellectual turmoil and shaken integrity is often what the acid test is all about. These, being concrete evidence of the underlying flaw in seemingly flawless philosophies. One needs to feel it within oneself, and experiment on his own self, to fully grasp the gravity of it. No instant formula, book or movie is ever going to do that for you. Worse, it might make you miss out on the truth, by presenting you with a diminished, disfigured view of it.

In all honesty,I did not start this post with the intention of broaching this topic. Since I have very strong opinions on the issue, I had thought of putting it up here someday, in a more gathered fashion. But I suppose sometimes thoughts just burst out of you. Through time and experience, I have found it wise to let that happen. Hence.

But, by no means am I done. I have volumes to speak, miles to go. But the promises I must keep with the likes of VHDL, DBMS, Computer Architecture, Digital Communications, Java and Organizational Behavior are rather non-negotiable. So, this stream of thought will be continued later. When more semblance of order has been gained. Meanwhile, I leave you all to ponder over the ramifications. Feel free to put in your two cents. I would love to discuss/be introduced to varying perspectives/inferences/additions.

I expect to be back in a week's time.
À bientôt.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Of Obsession.

We humans are creatures of habit. Some innate, most acquired. Some out of compulsion, most out of whim. I once read somewhere that it takes 21 days to cultivate one... or let go of. But what is the difference between habit and addiction? Further, between addiction and obsession?

If A=B and B=C, then it follows naturally that A=C. (Or so says the transitive relation of mathematical logic.) Don't tell me about the thin line. I see a dozen thin lines, and glide over them everyday. Effortlessly, at that.

Addiction. Comes in all forms, flavors, shapes and sizes. But that's not what we're going to talk about. Not about nicotine, caffeine cocaine, heroin, hash, weed, food, retail therapy, blah blah.. yada yada... No, not even chocolate. I speak of being addicted to a state of mind. To a feeling. Not out of whim, but to it. When every bit of your reason, logic and faith has been put into a single direction. When you have the sum total of your resolve and belief riding on one thing and one thing alone. You can only achieve what you want if you believe that you can, and if you try hard enough. Somewhere along that road, the quest becomes not just a part of you. It becomes you. You begin to define yourself in terms of what you want, and you become what it takes to have it.

You begin to push yourself to the edge, and to enjoy it. You seek fulfillment and satisfaction in challenging odds. And ride the wave of drive that angst and anger brings with itself. Knowing fully well that living in the extremes is leading you to degeneration, not just of the physical sort. Frayed nerves bring on a kick, at least before the burn-out. That, is the essence of self-destructive behavior.

I'm told addiction can be battled. But how you you battle yourself? After you spend years knowing that you are capable of doing anything in the world, and build your whole life around that idea, how can you possibly teach yourself to give up? When do you know that it is the time to do so?

You don't. And that is the kind of addiction that consumes you all of your life. But you never learn to live with it. Ever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

As The Timing Is Cruel.

This, right here, is good stuff.

Excuse the sappiness of it all.

Also, ignore the people in the picture. If I didn't know better, I'd say that they're definitely straight out of Monty Python.

The geek shall indeed inherit the earth.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Memoirs Of An Almost-Techie (Part-3)

Webcomic courtesy xkcd.

Yes, life as an engineering student comes with more than its fair share of existential crisis. You start to apply programming paradigms to real-world scenarios. Just last week, I was trying to use an Operating Systems(ETCS-212) strategy of deadlock avoidance on a classic Catch-22 situation.

Person A needs to discuss a matter of prime importance with Person B. Sadly, for that matter to be valid, there is a certain prerequisite state-of-conditions. But if Person B is, somehow, made aware of the matter, he is sure to disturb the aforesaid state-of-conditions. Whereby, annulling the effects of the attempt and discussion.

The things to be considered here are the discussion of the matter between A and B, and the conditions for the matter to be valid must prevail.

A situation in which two probabilistic events exist, and the desirable outcome results from the confluence of these events, but there is zero probability of this happening as they are both mutually exclusive. Hence, a deadlock.

Now, Operating System Concepts by Silberschatz, Galvin and Gagne(the book I refer to for this particular subject) says that there are 4 necessary conditions for a deadlock to occur :
1. Mutual Exclusion : Both processes cannot happen at the same time.
2. Hold-and-wait : The interdependence of outcomes of the two processes.
3. No-preemption condition : One process cannot force the other into terminating, or forestalling operation.
4. Circular-wait condition : Interdependence of operation.

Proposed solution? Make sure that no more than 3 of these conditions exist simultaneously. So, yours truly did, spend a hell lot of time thinking of how to eradicate one of the four conditions, complete with the permutations and combinations that come along with it. Only to come to one conclusion.

Q.E.D. Engineers, are strange people. Really.
Solutions for the problem are more than welcome. Ones with logic derived from other fields of study would be particularly delightful.