Vantage point

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

On Agriculture

For all the crocodile tears being shed and thousands of words being filed/posted by bloggers, journalists, and Sainaths who visit Vidarbha and other places of India with an acute agricultural crisis, the most hit-the-nail-on-the-head post in recent days has come from Nilu. In this post he writes,

Let's assume, every farmer in this country does get a loan at an interest rate of 5%. Will that solve the crises? Firstly, what are the crises? Do they stop with suicides in Vidarbha? Or do they extend to the abysmal yield in the rest of the country? To start with, there simply isn't any real investment in technology or innovation in this area. Farm credits, crop insurance and support prices are only measures to help those in misery. What about solutions that result in yields which would make agriculture a viable profession? How about the land ceiling act that encourages subsistence farming? Where are the infrastructure projects like building cold storage facilities?

Read it. Good stuff.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fear as a Culture

I've read miles upon miles of newsprint about how fear psychosis and paranoia is widely prevalent in the US. How the politicians and the media whip up a frenzy about anything. I never really thought it would be very excessive, since face it, America is the most hated country in the world, a target all self-appointed heroes dream of, especially those interested in 6 dozen celestial hymens.

But the full extent of the paranoia becomes prevalent on watching Glenn Beck's show. The man is cuckoo! The conspiracy theories he is conjuring up, the huge leaps he is making to all stations of conclusions are mind-boggling. He should be writing movie scripts for Jerry Bruckheimer and providing consulting to Tom Clancy.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Social Justice Vs Environmentalism

It is usually seen that the same conscience-massaging left-liberals who shed iodized-salted-tears over gourmet meals in "conferences" held in five star hotels over environmental degradation, also do the same for causes of social justice, anti-capitalism, and what not. They are usually on the same team.

So it is downright entertaining to read about a situation where the two conscience-massaging camps are actually pitted against each other. In Argentina.

Link via chat from Confused

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bacharach said it right

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And told him I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

But there's one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Crying's not for me, cause
I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothing's worrying me

It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me
Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me, cause
I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothing's worrying me
Nothing's worrying me
Nothing's worrying me

Immigration - The Acid Test of Globalization

When the same people who call for removing trade barriers, globalizing, and abolishing import duties, also call for a crackdown on "illegal" immigration citing economic reasons, I can't help but marvel at their duplicity.

Free trade means free trade, where only demand and supply rule. Where all that matters is the arrangement between a paying customer and a willing seller. Imposing some unnatural restrictions on trade is wrong, morally as well as practically. Morally, if two consenting adults are mutually agreeing to anything, then a third entity coming and imposing some restrictions in the interests of some other people is wrong. Practically speaking, there is a mountain of empirical data as well as analytical studies which show that trade barriers end up destroying wealth, and hampering prosperity, not just for a privileged few, both even for the have-nots.

Now this logic holds true regardless of what is being traded. So how can someone say that it is OK to remove the restrictions when tangible goods are being traded, but the restrictions must stay when a service is being traded? If true globalization were being carried out, then the removal of trade tariffs would have gone hand-in-hand with the removal of immigration laws. But that is not happening.

Instead, in the Western world, we see increasing rhetoric against immigrants who work on the lower end of the value chain. There are talks among some conservatives of fencing the US-Mexico border.

I support the right of a foreign entity to enter India, and sell cars... or even trinkets. They will succeed only if they provide value to the customer. And "value" is a very complex concept encompassing quality as well as price. Now if Hyundai can sell me a car cheaper than the Hindustan Motors, I am going to buy it. I don't care if it causes HM to shut down, or it makes their workers lose their jobs. Why should I? That's not how trade works. All I am interested in is quality AND price.

Similarly I support the right of the Mexican to come and offer his services to the big farmer in Arkansas. The farmer, also a buyer here, is again interested in value. He wants quality and price. If the Mexican can offer the quality of work he wants at a lower price, why the hell should the farmer worry about others who lose out on the jobs. They are just not offering as much value.

When you force someone to buy goods or services from an entity that is not ofering the best value, you are actually destroying the differential value. And it is being destroyed from your economy. Sooner or later, this destroyed value is going to add up and cause you harm.

The current restrictions on immigration are similar to the restrictions placed by socialist countries on goods trade. These restrictions are non-sustainable. If the restrictions were only morally wrong, they might have sustained. But restrictions on free trade have a practical impact. They undermine your economy, and most of your people are worse off.

China, which thought that it could impose massive restrictions on goods flow, suffered as a result, and had to open up trade substantially, following which it flourished. Just like China is held up as an example of realising the futility of trade barriers, I am confident that in the coming years, or even decades, we will see a country that starts realising the destructive effects of immigration restrictions, and opens up its borders. And others will gradually have to follow suit.

Of course, I realise it is not as simple as that. Immigration is a much more complex issue than goods-flow. Immigration impacts the social make-up, law and order, and the hollow but widely regarded concept of a "collective identity". And as a result it impacts politics. And while pure economics would be in strong support of open immigration, politics may not be. Politics has an incentive-structure completely orthogonal to economic incentive-structure. Whichever countries opened up their product markets substantially, be it India or China, did so because economic and political interests converged.

So whether there is an attempt by governments to open up their labour markets in the same way that they are attempting to open up their product markets depends on whether the political and economic incentives get aligned at some point of time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Liberal Killer!!

We have all heard the adage "befriend the enemy of your enemy". A modern day version of the same adage practised by compulsive knee-jerk left-liberals is "admire the crap out of the guy who hates the same guy you hate".

So liberals in India will almost compulsively gush about anyone who is against the BJP, or against America. Now I agree that the example of the first is Lalu Yadav and the example of the second is Hugo Chavez. But even more knee-jerk than admiring them for all the wrong reasons, is implying some kind of parallel between them.

Quite frankly, if I were Lalu Yadav, I would be deeply offended at being compared to Hugo Chavez. Lalu, especially in the last couple of years, has been doing a good job in the Railway Ministry. And while Lalu Yadav may be corrupt, boorish, and offensive, he is also a very smart man. Making Rabri the CM still remains in my eyes the canniest gambit played in the history of politics. Whatever you call Lalu Yadav, you can not call him dumb.

Whom can you call dumb? Hugo Chavez for one. There is no method to his madness. I won't go listing the senseless, stupid things he has done or said. And I don't really care whether he is boorish. But yesterday, he did something which many right-wingers in America have wet dreams about. And that was so dumb and so stupid.....hell, even George Bush seems like a Fields Medal nominee by comparison.

At the news conference after his melodramatic and rather boooooring speech(not even a fraction as entertaining as Lalu), he let slip this nugget -

"One of my greatest regret is not getting to meet Noam Chomsky before he died"

When I heard this, I was stunned for a second. Yes, getting back to acads has made me skip the newspaper once in a while over the last few days but surely, I could not have missed this bombshell. Chomsky died???

So Chavez did something which any red-blooded conservative in America would love to do. He killed Chomsky!!

Well not really. But yes, a part of Chomsky did die today. One of the many America-haters he expresses admiration towards is so clueless about Chomsky that he doesn't even know that the good Professor is very much among the living. It doesn't take too much thinking to figure out how much Chavez would actually know about Chomsky's writings.

Actually you can't blame Chavez. Remember, he is a hardcore Communist. And to any hardcore communist, killing off someone who expresses dissent with El Presidente is just natural human justice if you will. So what wrong did Chavez do in assuming that Chomsky, who has nothing good to say about the American President, had also been killed?

But seriously, my liberal friends, I advise you not to insinuate any parallels between Hugo Chavez, a certified dunce and Lalu Yadav, a flawed genius. Or the next time you are in the second class compartment of Indian Railways, instead of wanly composing prose on Indian poverty, you will find yourself being roughed up by some loyal Railway Police jawaans for sullying their boss's name.


Machines around it blip
Blood diluted with drip
Tubes sticking out its nose
It lies, comatose

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How to get a free lecture on feminism

The next time you are in a bus in Penn State, and you see a dimunitive female with a heavy backpack and a big plastic bag in each hand, offer her your seat. Then sit back and enjoy the lecture from her.

P.S. - Take pop corn with you

RSS on Tilak?

Just thought of this after a friend mentioned Lokmanya Tilak's book "The Orion". In that book, Tilak used astronomic observations to prove that the Aryans did indeed come from outside India. Now this would run contrary to RSS's Saraswati Civilization theory. I have personally heard Sangh leaders spew venom at Max Mueller for coming up with the Aryan Invasion Theory.

Wonder what their views on Tilak are? Would an organisation started mainly by Marathi brahmins and still enjoying considerable support amongst Marathi brahmins actually have the gall to rubbish the most respected Marathi brahmin of them all?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Opposite Of Logically

The first words I heard about her were - "This is Sana Ally. She is the opposite of Logically". Truer words have rarely been spoken, even by other people born on 2nd October. So head over and check out her crazy blog, currently named Die Piggy Piggy Die Die, which if my memory serves me right is the name of a painting in a Hugh Grant movie. The blog shall also grace my blog roll.

And why am I plugging her so much? Because she claims she thought of the KLPD joke first and has threatened to sue me if I don't.

A Great Reason to pine for 2007, 2008

After my fifth viewing of Sin City, I logged on to IMDB and discovered that Sin City 2 will release in 2007. And Sin City 3 in 2008. I have never ever in my life, even after watching some of the best movies like Godfather, Rocky and Lord of the Rings, really wanted to watch sequels with the sort of obsessive desire that I want to watch Sin City sequels.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

PhD in Marketing

While deciding to apply for a PhD in Marketing, I was stumped at how little information was available online. I googled desperately, but never really came across any useful inside information. The universities have their websites of course, but they are useful only for the basic information. So I am writing this to share whatever I learnt during the application process and later, so that if someone googles "phd marketing", they have at least one personal account to go by.

The reason there aren't too many resources, rankings or forums for PhD in Marketing, or in any of the management sciences in general, is the tiny size of the market. It is not an option that the masses throng to. It is not like an MBA which millions target every year. A doctorate in management sciences is a very small niche and so even its applicant pool is very small. From India, I doubt if more than 10-15 people seriously apply for a Marketing PhD every year.

Why PhD?
The first thing you need to realise is, that a PhD in Marketing is very different from a PhD in Engineering, in terms of career options. You get into a Marketing PhD program only if you are sure that you want to be an academic. i.e if your eventual goal is to become a Professor at a business school, and do lots of research in marketing. If you are considering a PhD to help you out with a corporate career, perish the thought. It would be a better idea to stick around in the corporate world and get 5 years of experience instead of spending 5 years to do a PhD.

Why Academics?

I got into it because I like research. Academic research in marketing is very different from "market research" or even consulting or writing cases. It is hardcore theoretical research, often involving a lot of quant. And I find it fun. I like teaching. I also like the academic lifestyle, which is a lot more flexible and satisfying. And though college professors in other disciplines are not very well paid, the pay is very handsome in business schools. For last year's graduating PhD class, the average starting pay in the US was $125,000. And this is just the salary. Most professors earn a LOT more writing books, and providing consulting to the industry. Even in India, profs from the good b-schools easily take home at least 10 lakhs a year.

PhD Life
A management PhD typically takes 4-5 years. The first 2 years is when you do your coursework, i.e complete credit requirements by taking courses to build up your skills for research. From your third year onward you start working on your doctoral dissertation, which you defend and submit in your fifth year. Of course, right from the first semester, you try to work on research papers with Professors.

Management PhD programs, at least in the US are fully funded throughout. You have a tuition waiver and you get quite a comfortable stipend. The stipend would seem extremely lavish if you are single. And even if you are married and the sole breadwinner, it is enough for a decentish life.

The "class size" for a PhD program is also very small. On an average each school takes 2 students a year for every field. So combining Marketing, Management, Finance, Accounting, OB, and sometimes IT, the average PhD class is 12.

Application process
The application process is fairly simple. You take the GMAT. Usually a 700-plus score will ensure you enter the consideration set. A 750-plus score will attract extra attention for sure. But GMAT is just 1 component. Far more important is your essay, i.e your Statement of Purpose. Your statement of purpose should explain why you want to do a PhD and what aspects of research attract you the most. If you are clear about a particular sub-domain, it helps since the admissions committee will take you more seriously. It will also help you decide on which schools you want to go to. For instance I was focused on B2B Marketing, and was very keen on Penn State since the B2B faculty here is superb.

You also need 2-3 recos from your professors. Usually most Indians who come here come after a Masters, mostly an MBA. Officially, you just need an undergrad degree for a PhD in USA. But at least in Marketing, I have seen most students have an MBA. Of course if you are an undergrad with an outstanding profile, you could still make it.

Even if you have work-ex, recos from your boss or anyone from the industry is useless for a PhD. They want to judge your aptitude for research, and so they want only your profs to write the recos.

Most schools nowadays have an online system of submitting recos. So if you are not in the same city as the one where you did your Masters from, start talking to Profs about recos really early. Personally I underestimated the time, effort and coordination needed for the recos and had a tough time since I was in Bombay and my alma mater was in Lucknow.

You also need transcripts... some schools ask for two sets. This can also be a time consuming process. And you need transcripts from your MBA as well as undergrad. The process at IIML was very simple. I just sent them a cheque and they sent me 15 sets of transcripts. But the process at my engineering college was very tedious and my mother had to spend a lot of time getting them.

Importance of Work Experience

Work experience is not very important in the selection process. American MBAs usually require a hefty work-ex. But PhD programs are not looking for it. A tenured prof at Penn State went straight from IIM to PhD and yet has a great career. The academic world has many such people. The actual research done is very theoretical, so they dont treat work-ex as a must.

Having said that, a work-ex does help. Especially relevant marketing or management experience. From a personal perspective, it gives you a sort of a reference point. It may help you in determining your dissertation question. But from an admission point of view, it is largely a non-issue.

Branches of Marketing
If you want to be an academic, there are mainly three branches of Marketing. The oldest is consumer behaviour. It hinges on psychology, and as the name suggests mainly studies the consumer. Then there is Modelling. In this, researchers try to develop and impose mathematical models on whatever is happening in the market place. This is heavy on quant, especially econometrics and also requires a level of comfort with programming. The third branch is B2B Marketing, a relatively newer discipline which studies the B2B market-place. This is also quite quant-heavy.

Choice of Schools
A lot of thought must be given to the choice of schools. First go to that well-known resource - US News MBA listings. And then forget all about it. Because that list is absolutely useless in deciding where to apply. It has been compiled with only MBA in mind, and MBA and PhD are courses as different as chalk and cheese.

In MBA, the big names help. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Dartmouth... are all prize catches. But while applying for a PhD you follow a different approach. You decide which discipline of Marketing you are more interested in. Then you go through the websites of the schools, go to the faculty pages and see what sort of research the Profs are doing. Better still, try to get hold of recent issues of the big 4 journals of Marketing - Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research and Marketing Science. Actually, throw in Journal of Management Science too, since very often Marketing papers with a broader implication are published in it.

On the basis of that identify which are the good departments with good profs. Get in touch with the PhD students there and take their help. I was guided almost completely in my admission process by an IIML senior at USC.

A little interaction with the Profs will help too. But it should not be interaction for the sake of sucking up. If you are really interested in what a particular Prof is researching, mail them. And try not to make it a "Hi, I am xyz and I want to do phd". Make it a mail they would take something away from as well. But please, don't go overboard mailing Profs. They are busy people with heavily laden inboxes.

In Academics, the key rule is "Publish or Perish". Schools which have a lot of publications in recent years in your specific area of interest are the ones you want to be in. A very useful link for this is -

UTD Top 100 Business School Research Rankings

Using this, you will see that schools like Wharton, which are top MBA programs, are also on top from a research perspective. But some schools like Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth are not that great.

On the basis of all these criteria, make a list of schools to apply to. An average applicant will apply to 6-12 schools. It depends on your comfort level and confidence.

PhD programs begin only in Fall, i.e in August. So the application deadlines for various schools range from December to February. I suggest you get all the transcripts together as early as August or September. Also start talking to your profs for recos before that, at least get them to write out a standard 1-page draft. If some schools have a particular format for recos, get it in advance and send it to the profs. Don't schedule your GMAT and TOEFL any later than October. ETS, the body administering those tests, is notorious for unexplicable delays in reporting official scores to schools. Keep a good buffer.

Application expenses
The GMAT and TOEFL together cost about 400 dollars. Each school's application fee, at least for Fall06 was on an average $70. So if you are applying to 10 schools, I think your expenditure will be around 1200 USD, or around 60,000 rupees at the current exchange rate.

Word of Caution
PhD and a life in academic research is fun. In management, it is also very well paying. But it is by no means an easy or "chill" life which you can just sleepwalk through. If you are contemplating this career only because you are sick of pressure at work, don't. Pressure is universal. Come for a PhD only if you are more attracted to academic research than your work. It really is fun, exploring new questions, learning and building theories, reading tonnes of interesting stuff. And of course, living on a campus.

My personal philosophy is that your career should be such that every Monday you wake up thinking - "Wow, they are actually paying me to do all this cool stuff". And that's how my Mondays begin now.
Update (January 2010): In the 3+ years since I wrote this post, I have been amazed to see how the interest in a Marketing PhD has grown, as evidenced by the sheer volume of emails I now get. Initially, when I asked readers to contact me if they had questions, I got maybe an email every couple of weeks. Now I get almost a dozen emails every week asking for detailed advice. For a program that only takes in an average of 2-3 new students a year, that's a major increase.

Which brings me to the point of this update. A lot of emails start off saying "I found your post helpful", but then go on to ask information that has already been provided above. I am glad to help aspiring PhDs whenever I can, but it would make my life as well as yours easier if you actually read the full post. And then ask me something beyond that.

Career Builders Inc.

I spent a few months doing some consulting work for IMS Learning Resources before I came to the US. Their motto was "We build careers" or something like that. As a guy there once remarked, it is a more appropriate motto for the Indian cricket team. We eagerly build careers. Preference given to fast bowlers. Hey, at least Mitchell Johnson is Australian. We don't mind building West Indian and Zimbabwean careers either.

Rahul Dravid meanwhile has become the quintessential Indian captain. He can now conjure up excuses even in his sleep. And he can be ultra effusive in praising the opponents who just kicked butt.

But we did see something unprecedented today. Rain actually saving India's hide! I've been seriously following cricket for close to twenty years now and I hardly recall a time when the rain has actually helped us. It either saves our opposition, or then arrives just minutes after we've been defeated. So it was nice to welcome the rain for once.

Meanwhile yes, Sachin returned with a cracking century. Good show. But I'd like to see an extended run before judging if he is truly "back".

The Dance of Stupidity

Another dance of stupidity is being sashayed all over the world, and this time it's those old buddies, the catholics and muslims, who are partners.

It all started with Pope Benedict going to Germany, his home, for the first time after becoming the big dog. Possibly pumped up after all the "You rock, Ratzinger!!" chants from the crowds, the Pontiff threw caution to the winds and launched into an attack on his pet peeves. Secularism, atheism, and of course, the ole nemesis, Islam. I was reading his speech in the paper last week and saying to myself, this guy is dense. Give me the blesses-everything-in-sight Wojtyla any day.

A couple of days later, the second act of the stupidity dance began. Muslims all over the world felt outraged. Not only did they go on protest marches, burn effigies and disrupt traffic. They also tried to torch a few churches. How nice!

I am having a tough time foguring out which party in this case is more stupid. Benedict for his bravado filled speech quoting someone saying "What new did Muhammad bring to the table?". Or the rampaging masses for demonstrating exactly what new WAS brought to the table.

One of the most idiotic things to do is to actually ASK for an apology. It is so intensely childish that it belongs in a playground. When you almost beg for an apology, you are showing yourself to be even more pathetic than the guy who spit at you.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Stephen Colbert Hid

There has been a fascinating development in the Stephen Colbert Hid story.

For those who came in late, last month Stephen Colbert announced in his show that the Hungarian government is holding an online poll to decide whom to name a new bridge after. The leading vote-getter at that time was Chuck 'WTR' Norris. Colbert urged his "nation" to go vote for him online. Colbert's own site also provided several scripts which could be used to vote multiple times.

A week later, Colbert was sitting on top of the heap with 17 million votes...that's 7 million more than the population of Hungary! The Hungarian government obviously grew wise to the bogus voting and changed the rules of the poll. They made it compulsory to register for voting, thus cutting down on the fake votes.

But they underestimated the might of the Colbert Nation. He still won with 93,000 votes!

The interesting twist came yesterday. The Hungarian Ambassador to the United States turned up at the show. Armed with an official communique from the Hungarian Government. They acknowledged that Colbert had won the poll fair and square, and congratulated him for it. But before the bridge could be named after him, they had a teeny tiny stipulation which needed to be fulfilled.

Stephen Colbert would have to be... dead. Because under Hungarian law, bridges can be named after only dead people.

As soon as Colbert completes this stipulation, the Hungarian Government says it will fulfill its end of the bargain. :)

Tremendous Relevance

Lyrics of Carlos Mencia's song. Offered here...ummm...without comment.

Dee Dee Dee doesn't mean mentally retarded,
It means stupid,
This song goes out to all the stupid people out there,
You're going to find this song hilarious,
And you don't even know, it's about you.


You dropped out of school because you're smarter than everybody,
I've got three words for you dumbass 'Ding fries ready!',
You try to outrun a bull, nobody's that fast,
That's how you end up with a horn stuck up your ass,
He won't help me 'cuz he's a star,
.... he got hit by a car,
If you wanna go hunting for quails someplace,
Don't go with Cheney; he'll put a fucking shot in your face,
If you bungee jump so you can fly through the air,
That's how you ended up in that wheelchair,
You ignore all the warnings you light up a smoke,
Then you have to talk with a machine in your throat,


How many idiots can there be?
Some say that it's 1 out of 3,
If you don't know then take it from me,
You're the Dee Dee Dee

(talking) You! You! You! Dee dee dee!


And if you are a Dee,
Please don't marry a Dee,
'Cause then your kids will be,
Dee Dee Dee

Carlos Mencia (talking): Dee Dee Dee!

You cry about the price of gas and war in Iraq,
But you voted Bush twice, what were you smoking crack?
Didn't get a preenup, though you knew she was a skank,
Know you've got her .... and she's got half your bank,
You were on top of the world, with 'Baby Hit Me One More Time',
Only a stupid bitch would marry Kevin Federline,
You drink and drive, and you think it's okay,
Know your cellmate's going in and out of the hershey highway,
You put tigers in your show and they can't be free,
They'll bite your neck off and then you'll say Dee Dee Dee,


How many idiots can there be?
Some say that it's 1 out of 3,
If you don't know then take it from me,
You're the Dee Dee Dee

And if you are a Dee,
Please don't marry a Dee,
It's genetics don't you see,
Your kids will be Dee Dee Dee.

Carlos Mencia (talking): That's what they'll be! DEE DEE DEE!

Parents are to blame for all these Dee Dee Dees,
Lettings their kids drop out and not get GEDs,
Get your kids inside, 'cause there's freaks on the loose,
But you're letting them drink from Michael Jackson's jesus juice?
You don't care when your kids come home with Ds from class,
What you need to do is get some balls and beat that ass,
'He isn't stupid', you say 'He's got ADD',
It's that his mom and his dad are both Dee Dee Dee!
'This test is too hard'
So we lower the standards,
'I'm not good at sports'
So we give him a trophy,
'My dad used to spank me',
So we lower the standards,
'I'm too fat for this seat'
So we lower the standards,
'They say no 'cause I'm black'
So we lower the standards,
'They say no 'cause I'm white'
So we lower the standards,
'They say no 'cause I'm Asian'
So we lower the standards,
'No hablo Ingles'
So we lower the standards,
And you wake up one day, no you don't have the skills,
To get up at your job, so you're stuck at the grill,
And you're wondering who took your job,
You're as dumb as a knob,
Now you're ass is too fat to get out of the house,
And you're eating more food, trying to figure it out,
Why they give my job, to some guy named Abhib,
'Cause he work harder and he's got 5 degrees,
And you're asking yourself, how could this happen to me?
I'll tell you why, homie, 'cause you're ... Dee Dee Dee.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Kuala Lumpur Police Department

Wonder if it is called KLPD?

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Blot

Born after a great big splotch
The ink was just right, not too mild
There he sat under the watch
He was the blot, Rorschach's child

Digging into him, the paper crease
Nudging at him, siblings seven
Stamping on to him, finger grease
Inside the envelope, his heaven

Dawn breaks and the sun bakes
Shreds getting bronzed every day
He can tell when the patient fakes
Makes up shapes and runs away

One day even his envelope
One day even his ink
Coagulating into time's gallop
It wasn't as convoluted as you'd think

Some People!!!

You know how some people are? They will talk and talk about their loyalty about one brand. And their hatred for another. And then still choose this hated brand because of nefarious reasons like lower price. Don't you just hate such people?

For instance there will be people who will swear by the IBM/Lenovo product quality. They will praise it to the skies, convince others to pay the premium because of assured quality and reliability. They will call Dell a shoddy tawdry brand which does not deserve to be mentioned in the same blog post as IBM. They will proudly say that they will never be caught dead using a Dell.

And when push comes to shove, when they actually have to buy something, they will look around. They will compare the prices between IBM and Dell. And they will see the 250 dollars difference. Then they will quietly go ahead and order the Dell, consoling themselves that their stipend right now is not enough to dream of IBM.

Such convenient brand loyalty. I hate such people.

Today, I am such people. :(

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tora Tora Tora

Watched Tora Tora Tora yesterday. Outstanding film. One of the best war films of all times. I especially loved the quote by General Yamamoto that that films ends with - "We have roused a sleeping giant and filled his heart with a terrible resolve." Indeed. And that resolve is still going strong.

I learnt a couple of things from this movie that I didn't know before.

One, that the Japanese didn't actually plan Pearl Harbor as a sneak attack. They planned to send a declaration of war to the United States a few hours before the attack. However the declaration had to be translated, and typed, and the absence of some clerical staff in the Japanese embassy made this process draw out so long that by the time the Ambassador actually delivered the declaration to Secretary of State Hull, the attack had been on for an hour.

The second, that the main point of the Pearl Harbor attack, from a military point of view was to take out the 3 American aircraft carriers. However, by a stroke of luck, or misfortune, as you view it, the carriers weren't at pearl Harbor. They had gone out for an exercise. And were saved, and played a key role in defeating the Japanese in Asia later.

Shows how history-altering world events can be influenced by coincidences, serendipity and pure bad luck.

The Cheese Ambush

Many Americans think Al Qaida is their biggest enemy. Some are scared of Iran. Others fear North Korea is up to something. And of course there's the looming clash with China in the economic domain. So distracted are Americans by all these foes that they have been ignoring the real danger to their well-being. Cheese!!

Cheese has infiltrated this country like only cheese can. And it is gnawing at its innards. The sheer influence and its spread (hehe...spread!) boggles the mind. Seriously, my utmost efforts in the last couple of weeks have been directed towards fighting off cheese ambushes. Its everywhere. In sandiwches, burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, subs, and even mexican food. Burritos, doritos, fajitas, ranjitas, babitas and madhubalas.... everything is full of cheese.

I am so used to saying "no cheese please" whenever I order anything that I even said it to a guy giving me some fruit salad. And he didn't look at me incredulously, thus proving comprehensively that fruit salad with cheese on top is one of his most common orders.

Cheese, having already made deep inroads into the American heart(!)land is now looking to consolidate its position. Extra cheese. Cheese in cereal. Cheese in muchies. Cheese in crust. Cheese in breads...

Mark my words. The day isn't far when you see blocks of cheese airdropping on the white house lawns and taking over the country. When they build a new skyscraper to replace the WTC in New York, a huge chunk of cheese is going to crash into it. And I am sure unsuspecting Hawaiians will have to face a sneaky cheese attack.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ghost in my room

There's a ghost
In my room
It sleeps in my bed
With my pillow under its head
Using my quilt
Feeding on my guilt

Yeh Raat

Was watching VH1 a while back. After the RHCP video finished, a promo for VH1's Top 20 countdown started. And it started with a music I recognized instantly. It was the music at the beginning of Yeh Raat from Aks. I immediately shook my head, disappointed that even that music had been lifted from somewhere, like with most popular songs in Bollywood.

But a few seconds later the words of Yeh Raat were also heard in the background of the promo. So VH1 is using an Indian song as the background music for its promo even here in the US. And a fine song it is. From a fine movie. Oh let me not start talking about Aks or I will again launch into a monologue on how the inability of the desi audiences to appreciate that brilliant film made Rakesh Mehra dumb himself down, turn to Rakeysh Mehra and come up with...Rang De Basanti next.

There is a clear cut correlation if not causation between film folks in Bollywood changing the spellings of their names according to numerology, and making bad films.

The 3 Variables Funny Test

the Wit
(57% dark, 26% spontaneous, 36% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out here:

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on darkness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on spontaneity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on vulgarity
If you liked my test, send it to your friends!
The 3 Variable Funny Test

Monday, September 04, 2006

Meet Joe Black

Today I happened to catch on TV one of my personal favourites - Meet Joe Black. It features my second most favourite personification of death. The most favourite being of course Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.

Brad Pitt, whose acting abilities are vastly underrated, pulls off a brilliant performance playing death in a man's body, experiencing everything from peanut butter to a kiss for the first time. He brings off the joy of novelty and innocence superbly. And Anthony Hopkins is of course perfect.

I also learnt a new measure of how good a movie is. If you are watching it, and then you decide to write a blog post about it. So you try to remember some great dialogue from the movie to put in the post. But by the end of it, there are just too many dialogues to remember.

Watch it if you haven't already. And if you have seen it then, well, a repeat is still recommended.

Two dimes and a nickel

Two dimes and a nickel
Linger at the slot
Pensively, tentatively, unsure
Is it a bus coin machine
That will embrace them
Or a laundry machine
That only wants quarters

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Gandhi a Libertarian

Mahatma Gandhi was a libertarian of sorts, I have always believed. And Sarika too thinks the same. She recently more about the whole thing and made one superb post.

For all I know, Gandhi could've been an industrialist (a Francisco D'Anconia" if you may) instead of a freedom fighter and I think that the core of what he said would've still remained the same. The Individual. His individuality bade him to work for others. Which he did. He did not expect everyone's individuality to bid them to do something similar either, so he didn't force himself upon others. That would've made him a politician. And there's NO ONE more disrespectful for the individual than a politician who asks the individual to place more trust in him than the individual does in himself. My constant grudge with democracy, if I might put it that way.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Money for nothing and fish for free

Salil claims to have uncovered the holy grail, i.e the perfect vadapav. Not in Mumbai or Pune, but in Alibaug.

Oh, and for the explanation of this post's title, take a look at the menu card in Salil's post.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Half Cigar

It lies there
In her purse
The half cigar
Butted out
After a bout of cough
And a drag too many
Bitters her tongue
It lies there
Its tip crumpled
Uneven and dark
Ugly for now
Waiting for the flame
To light up
Its vapour soul
Sending it wafting
Kissing her lips
To where it belongs
Deep inside her bosom

One of the best movie reviews I have recently read

It is short, describes the movie without giving away the plot, talks about how it touched the reviewer, and even better, it's verse.