Tuesday, December 14, 2004

That Instruction Permit

While I am at it, I still haven't gotten an instruction permit from the DMV. I must confess however, that this is out of my own inaction (wait, no. I "have been very busy"), than due to the inefficiencies of an archaic system. I hope to get it tomorrow (snicker... snicker...).

I pledged to myself to keep this thing better updated. But, as I said before - I have been too busy. Damn, I suck!

Interviewing at MS

Okay, wow... this is after a long time. A lot of water under the bridge. But before they slip out of my mind, let me post some questions I was asked in my screening interview (by phone) with someone from Microsoft. Yes, I sold out. If Microsoft offers me a job, I will take it with both hands.

Without further ado:

Why do you want to join Microsoft? I was kinda expecting this question, and I had a weak answer prepared. But still, this was the first question she threw at me; she virtually threw it at me. As I said, I was not too happy blathering my weak response. Not the start I was expecting.

What are your top three areas of expertise in software? Mmm... again, stock question, stock answer.

What programming languages do you know well? C, C++. Like an idiot, I tried to say I know Java, Scheme, ML - she brushed them all away, "We don't do those". Right. I forgot - I was decaying in graduate school.

What would you rate yourself in C/C++ on a scale of 10? Something tells me that someone's going to see my self-rating in the next round, and give me a lot of grief about it.

The next few questions were really stock, man. I mean, I had seen almost all these questions on various websites. But exactly two questions that I was asked, I hadn't seen. And when I figured out one of them, the interviewer asks me if I had seen them before. I said I hadn't, of course. But still, it made me almost think I was lying. Because I didn't tell her I had seen the others before. Anyway, its not my problem, if MS wants to ask questions over and over. And I am not going to list them, since you can find out with a simple search.

My favorite question (I hadn't seen this one): There are three switches in one room, and they control three light bulbs in another. You need to figure out which switch controls which bulb, but you can only visit the light bulb room once. I took a while to figure that one out. But I was happy when I got it.

The easiest question that I took longest to answer: This is really embarrassing I admit, but I took forever to figure this one out - There is a basket with x white balls, y black balls, z blue balls and w green balls. How many balls do you need to pick out of this basket before you are sure of having two balls of the same color? You don't want to know my first few attempts at solving this no-brainer. But finally, I saw the light: the pigeonhole principle. I profusely apologized to my interviewer for taking that long to figure it out.

Some things I did not do well:
My interviewer asked me how I keep abreast of the latest technological developments in the field. I blurted something about reading research articles and tech reports. Not very convincing.

What is your favorite software product? Since I use iTunes all the time, and I like all its features - its nice design, smart playlists, its fast startup in spite of its size, and its other hidden nuggets, that was my answer. She came back at me with this:

If you could improve iTunes, what would you do? Sadly, I didn't answer this one. I am very pissed about it, actually. If you are reading this, and you have suggestions, please let me know.

How would you test a stack? I know I am bad at testing. Sometimes I wish I had actually studied in college. All I could think of was to check for stack overflow, underflow and correct order of push/pop. She was expecting more, but I had nothing else to offer.

Anyway, I am going to Redmond sometime in January or February for the big interview. Excitingly enough, the email I got says, "... [be] ready to do a lot of C/C++ coding at your interviews. And most importantly, don't forget to test them before you say you are done". Thanks, will keep that in mind.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Four more years, indeed

Yes, as I begin writing this post, I see Ohio leaning towards the President. And that is it. Game over. The Shankster predicts final tally: Bush: 274 - Kerry: LOSER. I am disappointed, to say the least. But hey, I can at least stop being a poll junkie and go to sleep now.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Blogger Lies

I wonder which retard programmed this Blogger software. For the last two months, the number of posts on my blog has remained unchanged, while I merrily add posts. For some reason, I am very pissed about it. And my unhappiness only grows every time I see that counter. I guess its because every time I post something new, it stays the same. As if telling me that my posts are worthless, and hence not worth counting. True, but depressing.

I am feeling like a piece of shit for another reason. I have now been to the DMV twice in a week, and haven't managed to even take the instruction permit exam, let alone pass it. The first time, I dick-headedly chose to visit the only DMV that actually doesn't issue new permits. When I found out, I felt like setting myself on fire. Especially because I had to make the trip using Rhode Island's lame ass public transportation - the bus. Huge disappointment. But apparently, it was just the beginning of my troubles.

The next time, my friend actually managed to locate a DMV office that is closer, and that actually issues new permits. I made sure I had all the documents that were listed on their ass faced website. Signature ID (passport), age ID (passport, again) proof of residence (credit card statements) etc. We made our way hopefully to that shit hole office at 7 in the morning, and waited outside for for an hour, in line with a bunch of people who seemed to be even bigger losers than myself. Wierd.

Finally, the doors opened and we all filed in like lost sheep. After some aimless wandering, I got as far as the counter where I was supposed to get my documents examined. The written test was only minutes away. Then, this lady who looked over my stuff told me I should get an accreditation letter from the University. This was to make sure I was still enrolled in the U. I looked at her incredulously for a moment. I tried to explain to her that I had all the documents that were listed on the DMV's website, and that this requirement was nowhere listed. She gave me a look that left me in no doubt as to what she thought of me. I see losers like you every day. Get the fuck out of here. She adjusted her composure, and said, somewhat daintily that she couldn't help me any more, since I didn't have the letter. I felt like holding her head by the hair, and banging it over the counter. But all I did was to put on my best look of exasperation, and walk away.

No prizes for guessing how hopeful I am of ever getting an instruction permit, leave alone a driving licence.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ray Charles, anime and endorsement

As the title indicates, I will talk about Ray Charles, anime and endorsement. I am so creative.

As I mentioned some posts ago, I have been listening to significant amounts of soul/funk. Ray was in the news recently (what with his death, and the biopic). It only seemed appropriate that I check out his music. And boy, was that a good thing to do. Current faves: I can't stop loving you, Georgia on my mind, You don't know me and What'd I say.

Speaking of Ray, I recently saw my first anime movie - Metropolis, and the soundtrack features I can't stop loving you. The movie itself wasn't very good. I was disappointed with the cliched turns of plot, in spite of the fact that the creators were working with the rather more flexible medium of animation. But it had its good moments. Like the ending. Which is when Ray's song plays. I was surprised at how much more effective a song becomes when put in context. Now, everytime I listen to that song (which is quite often), I am reminded of the scene from the movie. It definitely sounds better and bigger now, than when I first heard it, before I saw this movie...

Coming to the final topic of this blog, I am soon going to announce my (very influential) endorsement for a Presidential candidate. Tough choice... stay tuned.

Also, my favoritest blog, the northlondonhippy blog, is a nominee for BOB (Best Of Blogs) - a contest conducted by Deutsche Welle. Please visit his blog, and vote for the hippy when it comes time to do so! Peace.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Blogs of interest

Of course I often click the Next Blog button. If you don't know what I am talking about, look at the top right corner for the nicely placed button that takes you to the next random blog. The number of blogs, styles, content all made me stand back and think about the whole idea of blogging. Anyway, I found some interesting blogs.

My favorite blog is easily the northlondonhippy's blog. Mr. Hippy actually put up his car as a giveaway, to promote his blog. I am sure he was high on his 'shrooms when he thought up this idea. Unfortunately for me, I live on the other side of the Atlantic.

Bill O'Reilly's in deep shit

Mr. No-Spin-Zone has been accused by FOX producer Andrea Mackris of sexual harassment. Among other things, O'Reilly called her up, and talked about sliding a falafel up her pussy, while they showered together! What a kinky motherfucker. Hilarious! Get the complete transcript of the suit filed against O'Reilly at the Smoking Gun. Actually, the allegations are sensational in many ways. O'Reilly claims that liberal radio show host Al Franken is set for some big comeuppance for taking on FOX (courtesy head honcho Roger Ailes). O'Reilly also ridicules Tom Brokaw, talks about his sexual prowess, and even does it with a vibrator, while on the phone with Mackris.

Surprisingly, none of the major media outlets covered this potentially explosive story. Not even the New York Times, which is regularly bashed by O'Reilly on his Factor and other shows. The Washington Post did cover it, although in a half-assed way. I would love to see if Bill still has the balls to dish morality lessons to everyone aound him. I sense him going down, and I love it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

True grit

The LA Times profiles Thomas van Orden, a homeless lawyer, who saves money by eating on alternate days, and has currently sued the State of Texas for breaching the First Amendment, which requires separation of Church and State. His allegation: a granite monument that stands outside the Texas Capitol in Austin, TX violates the said Amendment. Inscribed on the monument are the American Eagle, the Flag, and... the Ten Commandments! For over forty years, this granite slab went unnoticed. And then, along came van Orden.

His story is quite interesting. He is so broke for cash, that he doesn't know if he will be able to get to the Supreme Court in Washington to argue his case! Of course, even if he does that, he thinks he will probably sleep on the streets in Washington before arguing one of the most important cases in judicial history. The article is here.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Meeting with Agent Starling

My much awaited meeting with Agent Starling was totally anti-climactic. I was almost disappointed. I was expecting to meet with some obnoxious bureau agent, who I could direct my outrage at. Instead, I met a polite, gracious woman, who was almost apologetic about the whole issue. She looked like an ordinary government official. No Agent Smith sunglasses for her. I guess its a good thing it turned out to be her... She actually encouraged me to consider a career in the FBI! But I am not an American citizen. Do I want to be one? I don't know. Its off topic anyway.

It began with me giving her my `background'. It was really unnecessary, because the FBI can obtain all this information from the SEVIS database into which all of it is already entered. It was more of a `co-operation' thing. The human touch. Anyway, she also got my current residential address and my cellphone number. Will they tap my phone? I don't know. Should I have not given it to her? I don't really see how that would have helped, because its no big deal for the FBI to get my number. Not giving it to her would only have raised suspicions. I then showed her the pictures I had clicked in Boston. I gave her the purpose of my visit (the concert).

Apparently, she is on the JTTF - Joint Terrorism Task Force, around the Providence area. That is how the `suspicious activity' report filed in Boston worked its way to her. Clicking pictures in the train station is classified by the intelligence agencies as possible `pre-operation surveillance'. In effect, our meeting was (in her words,) to establish that this report was `unfounded'. At first, I was surprised she found out my office location, knowing just my name - but I figured all she would need to do is a Google Search. Indeed, Ms Starling admitted to as much! Ahh, the wonders of modern technology... I also told her that I distinctly remembered having seen someone else clicking snaps at the same time I was. She was apologetic when she heard that no one stopped him for questioning.

I asked her if there were any statutes that governed our meeting. She didn't know if there were any. It was her job to do `this kind of stuff'. I also wanted to know what would happen with all the information she just got. She said she would file a report with the agency saying she met the `suspect' (that's me), and found no sign of any unlawful activity or intent. The filed report is of course going to be permanent. Any other agent who will pull up a list for suspicious activities of the kind I just mentioned, will also see my report. I was worried about being flagged at airports and other places. Agent Starling assured me that wouldn't happen. I only have her word for it.

And that was it. It was over. She wished me a nice day, and left.

Updates on the Big Brother Incident

Apparently, I am not the only person of color being persecuted for clicking pictures in the land of the free. Agent Starling's (I love that pseudonym. Don't you?) visit to my office did generate some interest from other graduate students in the Brown CS Dept. One of them told me about Ian Spears, some guy in the Seattle area, who was pulled up for clicking pictures of a local tourist spot for one of his photography assignments. An account of his run in with the law is here and his blog is here.

Oh, and yeah, I am meeting with Agent Starling today afternoon. I can't wait to see how the inquisition goes. I have a few questions of my own for her...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Reach of Big Brother

Well, well, well... I am back. With a bang, too! The most unimaginable thing happened, and is still happening, over this last week. Let me get right into it.

So, I go to Boston last week for this Pearl Jam Concert. I arrive at Boston's South Station, and I start clicking snaps around the station with my new Kodak digital camera as soon as I get there. I manage to click about 5 snaps, when I am stopped by this burly guy in a suit. Too bad I don't click his snap. Big guy asks me why I am clicking snaps of the train station. I ask him what business it is of his. Then he tells me he is from the Justice Department! Sure enough, he shows me his credentials too, and they seem okay.

Justice Dept dude asks me where I am from, and what I am doing in Boston. He tells me that security people in stations get nervous when they see people taking pictures around the station, especially after the Madrid bomb blasts. That seems reasonable, except that I also see another guy - a white guy, standing nearby, clicking snaps, and no one is saying anything to him. I begin to see the light. Realizing that I am not in a real position to argue, I slip my camera into the backpack, and leave the scene.

I think about it later, just curse myself for being of colored skin, forget about it, and go on with life. Until today. I come into my office in the afternoon, and I see a note stuck on my computer: There is a number on it that I have to call at the earliest. Mind you, at the time I see the note, I make no connection with the Boston incident of the previous week. Curious, I call the number. The call connects, and I hear a voice at the other end say: "FBI Office, please wait". I almost shit in my pants when I hear that. I then look again at the note in my hand, and turn it around. Its a visiting card - FBI Special Agent Ms. Clarice Starling (I had to choose some name...)! I am freakin' out.

Agent Starling comes on line at the other end. At the time, I am thinking - what did I do wrong? I am mentally checking off things I could be apprehended for - Flying lessons? No. Preaching radical fundamentalist Islam? No. Deriding the President? Wishing he were ousted? Well, yeah... but who isn't? As I am groping for a reason, Special Agent Starling politely asks me if I had been to South Station the previous week... and then, suddenly it is clear! I almost relax. I tell her that I was indeed in Boston the previous week. I acknowledge having clicked pictures there. Ms Starling wants to `talk to me about it'. I groan inwardly. Whatever for? I ask her so. She says `the matter worked up to her', and so she has to `follow through with it'. She apologizes for bothering me, and says the meeting won't take more than 10 minutes. Its not like I have a choice, do I? So, I set up a time to meet with her later this week.

The incriminating pictures of the station, and a few more, are here:
Boston Pictures

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Solaris, current music and other things

With time, my blogging is turning sporadic. I expected this from the beginning, but it's so true that novelty wears off, often quicker than expected. I have also been busy with my research this past week. Anyway, I recently saw the 2002 remake of Solaris, based on Stanislaw Lem's classic sci-fi novel of the same name.

The movie was actually not as bad as some people made it out to be. In the first place, Lem's novel doesn't lend itself to be made into a typical sci-fi movie. For that matter, Lem's sci-fiction is not typical sci-fiction. But that's another matter, which demands lengthy contemplation (for another time). But what really got me was the soundtrack. I was simply blown away by Cliff Martinez's genius. Martinez must not only be a perceptive reader of Lem's work, but also a master at capturing the atmosphere, the emotions at play when visiting a planet as strange as Solaris. He does an outstanding work of conveying exactly these with his music. And to think I would never listen to electronic ambient music!

There are some other class acts in music I have recently rediscovered for myself. Frank Sinatra, for instance. That voice of his! I have also been listening to soul/blues/funk lately. Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and even Rick James!

"I'm Rick James, bitch!"
Dave Chappelle

Saturday, June 26, 2004

A long way from Walden

I am reading Thoreau's Walden these days. Appropriately, as a test, I got locked out of my apartment for just over two hours today morning. As I sat outside my apartment, waiting for my roommate (Alex) to return and let me in, I wondered how dependent we have become on a shelter - something our ancestors used to stand under only when it rained or stormed. I can see some sense in the concept in places with extremes of climate. But does a man living off the coast of the Mediterranean need to ever stay within the confines of four walls? I then recalled these lines of Thoreau:
Most men never seem to have considered what is a house, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they must have a house such as the neighbor's.

As I reflected upon these lines and more, I privately laughed at the huge and garish mansions people built and still build for themselves. Soon I was galvanized enough to even consider starting a new life away from civilization, one with nature. But then my stomach started rumbling, and I remembered that there was some good chicken soup in the refrigerator. I was thankful when Alex returned after what seemed like an eternity. I didn't even come back to Thoreau until after I had gotten into my apartment, eaten well and was beginning to relax on my new mattress with my copy of Walden.

Friday, June 25, 2004

I told you so!

BBC NEWS | Technology | Web browser flaw prompts warning

BEGIN rant:

What'd I say? Internet Explorer sucks ass! Please stop using Microsoft's IE. If a website is ``designed for IE'', boycott that website. Microsoft is the bane of all computer users. Disguised as a blessing, Microsoft is a curse. The great Devil.

END rant.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

gmail: A new etiquette for email

I finally got my gmail account! So hit me at shashank dot ramaprasad at gmail.com. Now, I am all in awe of gmail's conversation/thread view. Its so intuitive and simple, I wonder why none of the other major players offered it. Maybe some one did, and I missed it? Let me know...

For those of you unaware, gmail groups a post and all subsequent replies to it. It offers this entire thread in one view as a conversation. As a user, you no longer have to look at redundant information. The subject line itself is an example: The entire conversation is simply named with the subject line of the first post in the conversation. gmail also intelligently hides quoted or included text in replies to any post, making it easier to scroll through the entire conversation.

Now, it is convention to include or ``quote'' the entire conversation history when adding to a post. Among parties using gmail this convention becomes un-necessary owing to the conversation view. So, individual posts are shorter. One simply has to take care to not alter the subject line. But I do see people often replying to a thread and changing the subject line while doing so. That, to me is very irritating. It interrrupts the flow of the conversation and puts the persons following the thread off-track.

Here's to gmail! I hope others take notice too, and make the world of email a better place.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Pretty woman

The most beautiful girl I ever saw in a picture. She was apparently one of thousands watching the Euro match-up between Portugal and Russia. From the BBC website (without permission). I wonder what my chances of this meeting this lady are???  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

MS to Offer AV Software: How twisted is THAT?

Microsoft on Track to Offer Anti-Virus Software (TechNews.com)

Microsoft is planning to offer its own AV solution, which will compete against the likes of Symantec, McAfee etc. Knowing Microsoft, this latest offering will probably be so bug-ridden itself, that third party software might spring up to patch the holes. But I have a larger, more fundamental grouse with Microsoft.

Why, in the first place, does Microsoft charge exorbitant sums of money when its software is riddled with defects? Even allowing for defects, doesn't it become Microsoft's ethical, moral and maybe even legal responsibility to at least try and offer fixes without additionally charging users already burdened with its low-quality software?

Anti-virus software is a case in point. As everyone knows, today's proliferation of viruses and other worms that seriously affect the integrity of computer systems big and small, can be directly attributed to loopholes in Microsoft's operating system design in large part. Although Microsoft might have caused this `security issue' unintentionally, it resulted in the growth of a multi-million dollar anti-virus industry. Now, incredibly, Microsoft is aiming at earning revenue off its earlier incompetence! Those poor parasitic outgrowths face competition from the greedy host. Microsoft can probably buy out all these antivirus companies, and simply issue a small belch afterwards, being the huge cash cow it is.

A sorry state of affairs indeed. Is there any way out? Of course there is. Migrate to other operating systems. Although easier said than done, organizations should seriously consider moving out of the clutches of the Redmond gaint, at least gradually, if not at one go. Linux offers proven productivity, and at much more reasonable rates. And for those with the money to spend, there are always those Macintoshes.

Is Google too good?

Inappropriate matching with Google ads

Check this out! Some wuss put this up on a site whining about Google's gmail service. A story about unregulated online pharmacies is sponsored by an ad by a bunch of... yes! By unregulated online pharmacies! How is that for accurate context-sensitiveness? Way to go, Google.

Kerry needs a serious makeover

The Onion | Kerry Names 1969 Version Of Himself As Running Mate

These days, the Democrat nominee looks like he has a sour lemon wedged between his legs. No wonder the Onion reminded him of his more youthful days. He needs to lighten up.

On a totally unrelated note, some currents...
mood: Anticipation.
music: Funk/Soul: "Let's get it on". Barry White.
books: Propaganda/dystopia: Brave New World (Huxley), Walden (Thoreau), 1984 (Orwell).
movie: The Insider (1999?).

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Is the matrix in you?

After a long break, I took up my pen, nee mouse, and pointed it to blogger.com. Just when I thought I had seen it all, I came across this group of sites, the matrix sites, of which gotmatrix.com is one. This entirely legal, clever and resourceful venture offers quick get-rich schemes, electronics items at unbelievably cheap prices, and the like. But of course, there is a catch, and a good one at that. You have to wait in a queue for every item. The queue policy is that for every N persons joining the queue for item x, the person at the head of the queue wins item x. For the next person to win x, N more have to join the queue, and so on.

The interesting part is to see how this system behaves. Its easy to see that the tail of the queue grows much faster than the head shrinks. In the limiting case, the queue size is unbounded. But what does this translate to in terms of average queue length, waiting times etc? While I won't go into a rigorous analysis, here's a simple scenario. One product on sale on gotmatrix.com is the 40 GB Apple iPod, for ONLY $115. For this product, N=7. So, for every 7 customers joining the queue, the person at the head of the queue gets an iPod, for $115. Now, 7 more people have to join for the next person to get his iPod, and so on.

When I checked, the queue was 500 persons long. So, if I joined now, I would get my iPod only after these 500 got theirs. But this would require that 500 * 7 = 3500 more customers join the queue after me. But when I checked, I saw that 20 new customers join the queue every month. At this rate, I would have to wait 3500 / 20 = 175 months = 175 / 12 = 16 years! Not exactly a breeze, this queue... Even doubling / tripling the joining rate doesn't help too much. Seems like I have to look elsewhere for my iPod.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A photo that never fails to bring me down to earth... Its quintessential zen. Posted by Hello

Utterly quotidian

Yeah. Today's blog is full of hot-air. No substance. I just felt like typing a few random words, is all. Actually, I fiddled around with my blog's settings, and included a new tab on the side-bar, and added a couple of links of personal interest.

Current mood: Serene, but this serenity could be the calm before a storm.
Current music: Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz. Soothing...
Currently reading: Tarski's Introduction to Logic.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Birthday blues

I have now been alive 23 full years. I just stepped into my 24th yesterday (May 24). It sometimes feels wierd -- the concept of birthday... rather, the way we observe this occasion. Growing up, I never `celebrated' my birthday, nor my brother's, nor my parents', as an occasion. They would wish me (or I would wish them) and be done with it. And we didn't expect anything more.

It took me a while to realize that for a lot of people I know, birthdays are a big affair. Moreover, they expect me to treat their birthdays as big affairs as well. I find this difficult. Birthdays are viewed as occasions for rejoicement, but I feel that they should, if anything, be occasions for reflection. However, as far back as I remember, when I look back at the past year, I count more shortcomings than acheivements. This deficit increases with age. I also think this is true with a majority of those who do care to look back.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced there is no real reason to rejoice on anyone's birthday. Is there an occasion for Hope? Maybe... I can hope on a birthday that the rest of my life will not be as miserable as it has been until now. But rejoice... what for? The only thing I can think of is for having made it to this birthday alive.

All my morbid ideas have increased my desire to get wasted tonight. Now if there is one thing birthdays are an occasion for, it is getting wasted. Hell, yeah.

I also want to rant about why I HATE greeting with cards. It is probably the worst damned ritual civilization came up with. But that is for later...

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Fitness Mania

I had a good workout today. I ran about 3 miles (in a half hour). I know that's nothing, but for someone who's running after a while, it's good. Here in America, everyone works out. Yet, a lot of people are obese. I guess they should be thankful to themselves for working out. Everywhere I see, food products are either labeled `fat-free' or `no-fat' and the like. Then what would explain the obesity?

Anyway, working out is a Good Thing. It gives me a much needed break from my sedentary lifestyle.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Here goes nothing...

This has to be one of the wierdest things ever... This new website (http://www.gmailswap.com/) offers help to people who are looking for a GMail account (As of now, GMail by Google is still in development, and trial accounts are being offered only to a select ``few'').

So, this website hints that `active' Bloggers can possibly get GMail accounts... I had not posted for a while, and so here goes...

I want a GMail account too. Its got 1G storage for goodness' sakes!

Friday, May 14, 2004

To My Friends.

Yes, its me. I just crawled out of my shell. I begin to slowly look around at the world outside me... there are still a few things I recognize. I see my friends. They are glowering, for they are disappointed in me. I try to raise my hands to wave at them, but I am covered in so much cocoon mucus that my arms feel chained to the ground. I stand in the sun until some of it melts away from my body. I feel strong enough to walk a few steps.

My friends, take me back into your folds. You are all that bind me to this existence. To this otherwise pointless length in time. I was a fool this time, i have been a fool before, and i probably will be a fool again. But there are other times too. Times when I was not a fool. I ask you to recall those better times, and ``what could have been''.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Israel applauds Syria sanctions

The Australian: Israel applauds Syria sanctions [May 12, 2004]

Truly, this is my moment of zen for today. Israel's audacity to even make such a statement, it boggles the mind. If there is a single nation state that has violated more U.N. sanctions than any other, if there's one country that has nuclear weapons in the Middle East, if there's one country with the most widespread state-support for terrorism in the name of `national security', yeah... that's Israel. And who gets slapped with sanctions? Syria.

Don't get me wrong. I am not exactly Syria's supporter. Its America's hypocrisy that I am unhappy with. Talking about hypocrisy, of which Uncle Sam has no shortage, I wonder... why doesn't the U.S. do anything about half the countries in Africa, which are ruled by tyrannical dictators? These oppressors are undertaking genocide and ethnic cleansing of a magnitude that would even put the Nazis to shame.

The wise man says to me "Son. Turn away from evil you can't deal with, and evil you don't have to deal with." If only Africa had as much oil as the Middle East... Better still, if the U.S. produced more oil than anyone else, probably a lot of wars wouldn't be fought.

Operation Enduring Freedom? Nah... more like Enduring exercise in self-defeat

Yeah. That is what this whole Iraq enterprise is. An exercise in self-defeat. I came across multiple independent sources saying exactly the same thing about the US occupation in Iraq. "The US army is tactically winning, but strategically losing." How true. Yet, I feel sad for this country, that refuses to learn from past mistakes. I feel enraged about this administration that simply refuses to waver from its set course. Even when it becomes clear that the course is not viable. I am tired of this president who simply doesn't accept responsibility, and his chummies, who simply dismiss dissent, or launch disparaging attacks in an attempt to discredit said dissenting voice(s). Not even a plausible attempt at self-analysis... ahh, I can go on.

But there is one more thing I feel. It is fear. I know this might sound ridiculous, but what if the Feds come across my posting, and detain me for `inflaming passions' (although I doubt I really say anything of substance), or for being a threat to the nation's security? Some out there might say I haven't posted anything of enough magnitude to warrant such action. If that is so, its exactly because of my fear of persecution.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Who Da Man? Kobe's Da Man.

Bryant Goes Court to Court (washingtonpost.com)

We are lucky to be living in the same time as Kobe Bryant. I have seen some pretty amazing players on the court, but just no one came close to Kobe and the superlative performance he put on display tonight against the Spurs. What makes it even more admirable is that he came to the basketball court after spending almost two days in a judicial court, pleading not guilty in his sexual assault case.

I know this is an illogical wish, but for the sake of basketball, I wish that Kobe is set free. I recently found myself looking up the jury on his trial. I was hoping that at least some on the jury are basketball lovers... I mean, if they saw tonight's game, they might change their minds.

Rock on, Kobe!

Memories of School

Florence English School

I was recently reminiscing about my school days at my website. I thought I should mention that here.

American media, Iraq and the great Conservative conspiracy.

The American media, for all its proclaimed freedom of expression, is more deferential to the government, than media in many other countries: countries which don't champion themselves "guardians of democarcy", but still give the press a greater amount of freedom than does the United States.

By no account is Dubya the greatest public speaker. But he left me thinking when he defended the war effort in Iraq some time ago. Refering to the difference in cultures, he said, "Its condescending to think that one fifths of the world doesn't believe in freedom and liberty". Now where did he get that from...?

I do believe that the President is driven to war ultimately by his idealism, and not by greed. But it is this very Conservative idealism that is flawed. Of course, it doesn't help that the hawks who `advise' him are not entirely guided by lofty motives such as freedom, liberty. Noam Chomsky writes that American foreign policy is inherently designed to dominate other nations, subdue opposition and exploit resources for selfish interests. Of course, this is partly true with any nation's foreign policy: self-betterment. But usually, it is acheived by more subtle means than the ones America has historically adopted.

Conservatives have been dreaming of a New World Order where America reigns supreme for quite some time now. The excellent newsmagazine Frontline reports that right wing think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC) sent an audacious letter to Clinton. "No longer should the U.S. contain the Saddam Hussein regime.... if Saddam does acquire the capacity to deliver WMD, [among other things,] a significant portion of the world's oil supply will be put at hazard". Others like the RAND corporation were instrumental in getting the government to pump money into advanced research and development, mainly for weapons. The focus for most of these think tanks is to establish pax Americana, albeit with American military pre-eminence.

Hello, World!

In true nerd style do I begin weblogging. I kept hearing about the popularity of weblogs, and quite frankly, I didn't know what the big deal was. But then, I felt there are issues out there on which I want to comment. There are events, situations from my own experience that can be shared. Thus, I turned to blogging.