December 31, 2008

The New Year spirit

The New Year is here! It's time to share the holiday spirit!

...Happy New Year! Hope 2009 turns out absolutely peachy for you! :)

(Luckily, i took this snap in time...a little later and it would've been empty!)

December 28, 2008

Haiku Post - Paan chewing boy

Cud-chewing, though biologically an exclusive preserve of ruminants (=moo!), has been electively adopted by man who engages in the practice with great enthusiasm. This "biologic-mimicry" is particularly prevalent in avver-India - and it's very apparent too - one only needs to look at the nearest corner in the urban-milieu to see indelible proof of its popularity. Our environs are tainted by the expectorations of the
orally-fixated urban painters of India.

This haiku is dedicated to these saliva-spouting gents:

"Paan-chewing lout,
know there is a God above,
he gifts you OSMF"

(OSMF or Oral Sub-mucous Fibrosis is a slowly-progressing disease that results in the hardening of the tissues of the mouth, eventually progressing to a stage where mouth-opening is so severely restricted that even eating solid-food is an accomplishment. It usually affects paan-chewers and users of areca-nut products, and is a forerunner of cancer. The irony here being that the very substance being chewed/spewed ultimately locks the jaws shut)

image from Manjeet Bawa, Sanjay
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December 23, 2008

Haiku Post - No manners rich-kid

You've seen him before - the wining, dining, club-hopping, pub-hopping brat. The rich-kid who's got everything - and then some. You're almost envious of the easy swagger and the brash arrogance - you almost think everything that the kid does is pure class. And just then...the crass shines beautifully through.

This haiku is dedicated to the etiquette-impaired kid:

"Flashy, rich casanova,
your cars and babes are awesome,
Burp silently, you bastard."

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Noise Cancellation Technology... In Church

If you have ever had the misfortune of having to enter a church when a Tamil-mass was in progress, or have had to suffer though the Tamil-hymns you know how universally bad the Tamil-choirs sound. And there is remarkable similiarity in the sound. =universally screechy.

The choir-members themselves are usually either, um... "ceruminously-occluded" or "acoustically-impaired", and so are unaffected by the sonic-torture they let loose on the congregation - amplified manyfold by "high-definition speakers". What this means is that the speakers are placed high enough that no sufferer can jump up and rip out the wires.

The congregation, in an attempt to save their auditory-apparatus frantically employ Noise-Cancellation-Technology by producing identical waveforms of an equal intensity. By singing along.

No doubt the serious audiophile will know that this same technology finds use in special-audio devices such as in the earphones of Military jet-pilots and Astronauts. This is a cunning use of wave-physics in Church!!!

If one cannot apply this defense, and are forced to sit silently- as a result of one's ignorance of Tamil, then nothing can save one's ossicles - the notes will be so high and nasal that soon one's ears will start to bleed. But the songs will go on. And on.

...Compelling reason to start learning decent-Tamil saving for BOSE Headphones!!!

Read more: Noise-cancelling
, BOSE® Patented Technology
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December 20, 2008

The I.S.I. Anthem (singalong)

To be sung to the tune of "My Favourite Things" from The Sound Of Music:
(Original lyrics here. Vid here.)

"The ISI Anthem"
- by Tragicomix

Passports and SIM cards and men-in-the-middle,
Fake notes and small boats sent over to fiddle,
Youths from our new camps all ready to thrill,
and run up a body-count just like in Kill Bill.

Rum pum pum, rum pum pum,
Rum pa pa pum

Rangers in mufti and winters in Kargil,
C-4 in car-bombs for the mission in Kabul,
talking of 'freedom' from the mouth of a gun,
Sleeper-cells waking for a suicide mission.


'Infils' at midnight and postures on primetime,
bailouts from the U.S. in financial down-times,
media-management down to an art,
any serial-bombings where we don't have a part?


When the world bleeds...
and Wahhabi's...
rub their hands in glee...
We look at each other straight in the eye,
'coz we are the I.S.I!!!


Violating ceasefires and firing on frontlines,
working with neighbours to exploit their fault-lines,
soldiers and fishermen locked up in jails,
Nukes for the selling by 'scientific males'.

(Humming) Rum pum pum, rum pum pum,
Rum pa pa pum

Coups and Dictators - we're known as King-makers,
Yanks think we're helping, though we're really just fakers,
spies in Kathmandu and shelling in Leh,
and homestays for fidayeen in PoK.


Links with Al Queda and deals with red-China,
hunting for Talibs - though we once were their trainers,
agents in Dhaka and dons in Mumbai,
we'll never let go - it's too much of a high.


When we kill men...
and the world bends...
when we 'chieve our ends...
We look at each other - one man to man
'coz we rule in Pakistan!

(repeat and fade)

The original song (Lyrics here):
The Sound Of Music - My Favourite Things

December 16, 2008

Casefile: Badass Dentist

Here's a real qualifier for the Dental Infamy-files:

Dentist 'attacks patient, steals her teeth'

"....According to police, the dentist knocked on the woman's door before forcing her into her living room where she was tied up.

He then allegedly forced her mouth open and extracted the $700 dental work her insurance company had refused to pay for..."
Who's fault was it? - Looking at the big picture, i'm gonna say it was not the dentist (no surprise). It was the insurance company. Who knows better about the best choices for a patient? - a dentist or a claims-approver.

India, thankfully still hasn't acquired the HMO/Dental Insurance-culture of countries like the US, UK and Australia - but it's coming. It's already here with Medicine, and look at the practice-models that have sprung up as a result.
(There's really a lot of things we shouldn't be copying from the West - and one biggie is their Healthcare-system - it has a lot wrong with it. We're not too far along the road, and it's best we course-correct now before we end up in the mess that follow these systems. We need to be lowering financial thresholds to quality-healthcare, and not excluding patients by raising them, especially in a country with so many poor-as-well-as-unhealthy people.)

Yeniway, Wow! Talk about talent! He got the bridge off in the middle of a living-room! Skillz!!!

"Open ze mouth! OPEN ZE MOUTTH! Sie haben gefickt mit dem falschen Zahnarzt!"

December 13, 2008


3 recent news-reports have given me the hebegeebees! I don't know why, but they came along the news in a particularly evil chronology. Each event was bad enough in itself - but the sequence in which they got reported somehow, unfortunately, registered to my mind (damn it) and now it's stuck there - giving me hell.

Article One - Turns out, don't ask how, that i'm connected to this Indian-guy by just 2 degrees of separation! (Whats that?)
Article Two - Damn, it happened to a Dentist!!! By a Dentist!!! and with a Bard Parker blade! Thats sharrrrp!

Then came along article 3, which reinforced everything wrong with the first two articles!

Article Three - Indian! and Ouch!

(Not to mention the fact that for the past 2 days, my part of town has seen one act of burglary+arson, one act of suicide, and one act of seems like everytime i open the paper my eyes automatically get drawn to "Hennur"/"Kammanahalli" and there's something horrible about the article.)

BTW, here's a Bard Parker blade for you - enjoy!... if you're a guy - shudder now!

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December 12, 2008

2009 Calendars - Holidays, Liturgical and Movie

I spent the afternoon working on my Google Calendars for 2009.
Here are a few of my public-calendars:  (Free to use)
  • My "Karnataka Hols 09 " calendar:
  • Can be found HERE (in HTML - as a stand-alone web page), in XML (for feed-readers) and ICAL (for Calendar-software)
  • My choice of "Movies India Eng" calendar:
  • Can be found HERE (in HTML), in XML and ICAL
  • My Indian "Liturgical'09" calendar (catholic):
  • Can be found HERE (in HTML), in XML and ICAL
Alternatively, all these calendars are "Public" in GCal so anyone can search for them and merge it to their existing calendars.


The English Movies India calendar: This is a arbitrary calendar since it contains only release-dates for english movies in India - that i am anticipating. The movies have been cross-referenced between RottenTomatoes, FirstShowing and IMDB and the release-dates have been adjusted for India (usual dates listed are for U.S premieres). These are amongst the most awaited movies of 09 and are movies i'll definitely see. For a full list for 2009 head to the links above. Also, i will be continuously tinkering with this list as more interesting movies come to my notice. (refs: see links above)

The 2009 Karnataka Holidays calendar: Includes only Gazetted Holidays (18 closed holidays), not Restricted-holidays (35 days). Also, this is a Karnataka-specific list - but the Calendar demarcates both Central-only and Karnataka-only holidays, and is hence suitable for everyone. (Central and Karnataka holidays differ in a few instances...Rajotsava, Janmashtami etc.) (refs: Central 2009, Karnataka 2009)

The 2009 Indian Liturgical Calendar: For Catholics in India. The General Roman Calendar consists of Fixed Feasts which repeat yearly, without variation - eg: 25 Dec, and Movable Feasts which change yearly - eg: Easter. This calendar demarcates Fixed-feasts ad infinitum, and has Movable-feasts marked up till Easter2010, by which time the calendar will be updated for 2010. I created this after i found there is no online liturgical calendar specifically for India.
(refs: Movable Feasts, Fixed Feasts, Days of Obligation)
(To know more: "Why Lent moves around but X'Mas stays put?"
- article)

GCal is nifty since it can send SMS's to your cell prior to the event.
I usually set most of my Calendars to SMS me 12hrs before any event, so that the night before - i get a heads-up whereever i am, irrespective of whether i am near a PC.
I highly recommend GCal. It can even be integrated within GMail.

Image from tanakawho
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December 8, 2008

Definitely "alt.humour"

(i came across this humourous haiku quasi-haiku today...funny stuff! of course, it's the weird kind of funny that only i enjoy!)

"     'Shut Up' ....My father explained.     "

I suspect Wodehouse fans might find it a little ticklish. took me a while to stop smiling after i'd read it.
it's hard to stop when you imagine an actual situation where a father would use this.

(EDIT: I went searching for more, and found pure gold at The Daily LifeKu. Samples below!)

"Hot shot smarty pants
Think you know everything?
Your face is stupid

"Drunk man on the plane
I don’t need to hear you sing
Vomit quietly"


Image: chelmsfordblue
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December 5, 2008

Debate will always be the stronger weapon

There has been a lot of crazy-talk recently about a possible "military intervention" by India.


Sure we need to do something extra-ordinary- Yes, we have earned international license for it.
And this time we won't be bound my the usual 'calls for restraint' by the International-community.
But seriously?

Military Intervention??.....known to some as "War"??

Just like the Mumbai-attacks have unified India to some extent, Pakistan would be gifted with a reason to unify behind a common cause against India, if we gave them a reason to do so. Already, in Pakistan, in the matter of the US-bombings of their border areas, there is equal outrage amongst the Mainstream as well as the Radicals.

Today's wars are fought equally on the economic-warfield, and through covert means - and India has the means to do it. The overt use of the Military nowadays is only as a deterrent - and here India although it has the means, lacks the Political or Financial clout (recessions affect war too!) that the P-5 superpowers do.

And exactly who's means are we furthering when people say "jaake maar do" or "sabak sikhao"... Not ours, not the Pakistani mainstream's - it would be playing into the hands of the anti-India lot - The radicals and their sympathizers. I cannot imagine that the average-Joe in Pakistan (average-Javed?) would like to hop across the border to kill Indians, nor have his country torn apart through military force or disintegrate into anarchy at the hands of extremists.

And the Indian voice we hear now - baying for blood - That's a gut-reaction, and it should be recognized as one. India, mind you- not just J&K, would doom itself to Jihad for the next 100years, for the sake of acting on a public gut reaction.

While action is necessary, Peace is the ultimate goal....If you had asked me a month back if i expected Indo-Pak peace within my lifetime- my answer was 'Perhaps'. But if we ever make the mistake of putting such a rash step forward, we'd be likely to slip 10 steps back in our own arc of progress.

We need to normalize things in the public sphere. Amp things up in the diplomatic sphere. And lay groundwork now for a political consensus that lasts beyond successive governments- sufficiently long enough to make our foreign-policy credible and to see results with our neighbors.
Seriously- anything military should not be an option.
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December 1, 2008

Lessons from the Mumbai Terror tragedy - Too Little Practice (Part 4/4)

What went Wrong - Too little Practice:
Even though everyone who participated in the encounter got the job barely got done, and now noone can ever say that a particular way would/could have resulted in a different outcome. But the familiarity of each player with the next was very apparent.

Ideally: There should be dedicated Liason-units which develop intimate familiarity with any other agencies their own agency might be expected to work with, depending on the situation. For instance, in case of a Terror-situation A,B,C agencies do G,H,I functions while in a Natural-Disaster-situation X,Y,Z and A,B agencies do P,Q,R functions.

Unless the situations are hypothetically imagined, and planned for, and then rehearsed - in mock, anything else would be "winging it" when the real thing happens, with familiar dissapointing results. Also, the Liason-units must be tested to actually work, and not to just cover their respective organizations asses.

'Ind'eally: Liason-units are expected to be non-functioning and for half-hearted rehearsals to be the norm - unless, these itself are included into the compulsary machinery of the Govt by making them auditable. Use the red tape! Make inter-operability check-able and involve private consultants to keep things fresh and relevant, and accounted.

s is post 4 of a 4part article. Read Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Too Many Heroes Part 3: Too Many Voices
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Lessons from the Mumbai Terror tragedy - Too Many Voices (Part 3/4)

What went wrong - Too many Voices:
Perhaps there is a hesitation to setup a unified command in any situation, because any lapse in judgement would be 'pinned' on the authority-figure in command. So, we saw people come, go in, rush out - and claim their credit immediately, and precautionarily, before anything untoward could happen following their involvement. Meanwhile, noone from the public got the impression of any one person being in charge, and even the people who gave the interview were frequently misinformed.

: There should be just one voice - or maybe two; Centre & State - giving responses, to the press and issuing statements and updates. A strict Gag-order must be enforced and any leaks/unofficial statements must be promptly and categorically addressed as 'Unofficial' before they become the sensational sub-story that whips up passion and creates pressure on the agencies to meet the public's expectation of justice.

'Ind'eally: Indian journalism doesn't score very high on ethics as it is. And it has been ages since a newpaper or a media-house was regarded for it's honest unbiased reporting, without any 'leanings'.

Given that, and the shamelessly headline-hungry hacks who are the present face of the Indian Press - especially those of New Media - it is difficult to expect that the press will attain enlightenment overnight, and begin responsible journalism instead of sensational gossip-mongering or stop claiming to be the 'voice of the masses'/'keeping a check on the polity' instead of realizing it's true calling as a builder of society, acting in the joint interest of the people and the powers, not the people versus the powers.

What we need are media-savvy departments, who realize realize the impact of their words, and who talk in clear factual terms - not giving information until it is appropriate and verified, also also, importantly, who have the cojones to say "No" "Until it becomes clear" or even "I cannot divulge that information", instead of giving opinions and hazarding guesses and increasing the confusion. If there is a strong voice booming out the Official line, the press will have to faithfully report it and the people will also know where
to turn to and whom to ask of.

s is post 3 of a 4part article. Read Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Too Many Heroes Part 4: Too Little Practice
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This work by Dinesh Swamy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.