Realm Of Randomness

April 11, 2008

An inconvenient truth

Filed under: Movie — Randomizer @ 4:13 am

So I *finally* got around to renting out the ‘Inconvenient Truth‘ DVD and watching it earlier this week, and I must say, I felt like kicking myself for not having watched it earlier. If you are one of those people who still think that the terms ‘debate’, ‘exaggeration’ or worst of all, ‘myth’ are associated with Global Warming, then do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I know there is a certain amount of appeal in being a ‘skeptic’, but trust me, this is not one of those cases where its cool – its just plain ol’ ignorant.

The movie does shake you, for what it shows is not a bunch of subtle hints or vague patterns establishing this phenomena, but graphs and statistics and facts that just scream into your face. I found the explanations and the evidence very convincing, and I’m sure you will too.

I am honestly embarrassed to admit that up until last week, I was of the misguided belief that global warming was an issue that was of importance in the long run, and not one that needed immediate concern. I thought it was one of those ‘if-this-gradual-process-goes-on-for-another-50-to-100-years, then so-and-so will happen’ things. Jeez, how wrong I was.

I am sure most of you have watched this by now, or if not, have at least done a better job than I had in finding out the facts by reading up on it yourselves. If not, please consider this post as an alarm bell, and watch this movie as soon as you can.

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March 15, 2008

News you (don’t) need to know

Filed under: Humour,India — Randomizer @ 3:59 pm

Here are some Indian news articles this week that have totally changed my life, and I am so proud to be Indian especially after reading them.

#1 – IIM student from UK prefers working in India (link)

This priceless NDTV article starts ‘Jann Gabriel wants to stay on in India … ‘ and goes on to talk about just that, how this student from UK will accept a job working in India rather than one abroad. Now that this British student has officially forsaken Europe for India, I am filled with immense patriotic fervor towards my mother India and now feel that it is worth something after all. I wish they also ran an article about how she prefers wearing the Indian kurti (like in her photograph) instead of the firangi t-shirt – that would have made me feel great about my Indian culture and dress as well. Alas, a golden opportunity was missed, but I’ll take whatever I get. One shouldn’t be too greedy, right?

#2 – 36% of NASA scientists are of Indian origin (link)

The Minister of state for human resource development, in making his case for higher education in India, quoted in parliament the figure that 36% of NASA scientists , 38% of doctors in the US , and 34% of Microsoft employees are of Indian origin. I was once again filled with great pride at this figure, but read that he got this news from an E-mail forward, and the figures were wrong.

Still, I have learnt to look at the positive aspects of life. Since this act clearly demonstrates that our Minister had the technical expertise to work probably a Microsoft machine, connect to the internet and check his e-mail from an internet site, it shows tremendous improvement in the scientific abilities of our politicians. Since he was making a case for higher education, I think his point must have been well received – that if politicians are able to handle the ground-breaking technological advancements like reading email forwards, then surely regular Indians can do at least something close to this?

I am very proud of this politician and technology whiz-kid. Though his figures were wrong, he has very cleverly got his point across to the nation that higher education definitely has a future for us desis. I wish his critics were clever enough to understand this bigger picture and shut the hell up.

#3 – India is 6th most positively viewed nation, according to Americans (link)

I am very happy that John Smith and Jane Smith think positively of my nation, though I must admit I am a little jealous of the Canadians, Britishers, Germans, Japanese and Israelis that beat us to the much-coveted affections of American civilians. Like our fore-fathers rightly said, “there is nothing better than the acceptance of the white world”. I follow this religiously and try my best every day to beat those Japanese at my work place, and I think I am making a lot of progress with Molly, our 60-year old receptionist. I should ask her some time to revise her nation popularity list … and verify if I have made any headway on this chart.

When my Sri Lankan colleague noticed my efforts at impressing Molly and asked me why I was not making that much of an effort to push India up his popularity charts, I had to give him the bad news: that he was not white and that the browns don’t count.

Tough luck, man.

The anti-climax that awaits us

Filed under: America,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:48 pm

By all means, this has been an irritating election season, and I wish I knew how to get ‘dis-interested’ in something. I wish I could just turn this interest off whenever I wanted and be immune to all these drama filled Obama/Clinton wars. There’s really no way to come out of this without being frustrated -if you are a Clinton fan, you would be tearing your hair apart over the blatant media bias favouring Obama, and if you were a (Ba)rack-star, you’d be pounding your fists in frustration that the contest didn’t get over on March 4 and that we have to read not only another 300 articles about Clinton vs Obama, but have to prepare to stoop into lower levels of muck that the Clinton campaign throws at us… for at least another 2 months.

Now that my fave Ron Paul is out of the question ( I guess he really never was ‘in’ anyway ), I have a new favourite – and judging by only the way they have carried out their campaigns, I am pretty clearly in Obama’s camp. He’s run a decent campaign so far, and I like that. The whole world is following this war, ( even IndiaUncut these days, Google’s number one search result for ‘India Blog’) and the funny part is that it in all probability, it might not even matter. The silent bystander John McCain with his decades of experience could just sweep this election away – after all, I am pretty sure than Obama supporters who have nearly come to hate Clinton over the last 3 months will not readily vote for her in November if she wins. And nor are the die-hard Clinton supporters going to vote for her inexperienced opponent Obama.

In all probability, the supporters of the losing nominee will be apathetic towards the elections after their favourite is off the ballot and will not even vote…. if not the more drastic choice of voting for McCain himself! The only thing McCain has to worry about right now is to try and stay in the news, and generate some funds for his campaign. All the mud-slinging of his opponents are being done by each other, at each other, and when he faces his bruised candidate in November, half the work would have already been done.

What a hilarious anti-climax it will be for us to join and finance McCain in his hunt for ‘them terrists’ for another 4 years in the mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s so pathetic it should make you laugh :-D. As for me, I am going to try my best to stop following this possibly and probably meaningless democratic contest, and waste my time doing something else.

March 2, 2008

Desi YouTube videos I like

Filed under: Internet,Review — Randomizer @ 7:49 pm

If you’ve noticed a slump in the frequency of blog posts, well, it’s because of my latest internet adventure, my YouTube channel (link in my FB/orkut, not on this website). Though I have plans for a short movie some time this year, all I’ve uploaded so far are some music videos of covers I’ve been practicing. So far, it’s been fun, and hey, it gives me a reason to pick up my guitar every once in a while and prevents the cobwebs from conquering a new neighborhood!

Spending a lot of time on YT these days, I’ve noticed that there isn’t much desi content out there. It seems to be pretty much American-dominated as of now, and I’m really curious to see what it will look like once video uploads become more mainstream in India. I’d give this about 2 years. Digi-cams and high internet speeds are increasingly becoming a part of the middle class, and soon enough, I’m sure we’ll be seeing some good original desi content on our screens ! As of now, most of the desi videos seem to be from desi diaspora or mainstream TV. Here’s a countdown of my favourite desi YT picks:

(8) Tamil rap song ‘Kuttali’ – By Malaysian-desi rap group ( I swear one of them looks like Snoop Dog! )

(7) It’s the Singhsons ! – Punjabi version of the Simpsons intro, pretty ok.

(6) Gay Indian stand-up comedy act – How often do you hear of a gay, indian comedian? His video is hilarious :)

(5) Indian Cricket – Great fielding moments – Set to a pretty sweet punjabi song

(4) Reverse Outsourcing – LOL. Hard to find a comedian funnier or at least as funny as Russel Peters!

(3) Sheena Melwani (Cover of Alicia Keys’ No One) – Sheena’s getting pretty popular on YouTube, and she should get signed pretty soon, if not already. Good luck to her. Her name sounds desi and she looks desi as well, but I don’t know any more details other than her being an awesome singer.

(2) Penn Masala’s Facebook Skit – My #2 desi video pick…. Not only hilarious but great sounding as well. Excellent work, this was featured on YouTube. Great video, great voices. Superb job by the folks at U Penn.

(1) Indian Rap in 5 languages – Very catchy tune from an SF-based desi rap group. Best desi rap I’ve heard so far.

Hope you liked the list! If you have some other favs, please post the link in the comments section! Happy surfing :)

February 19, 2008

Why we end up caring

Filed under: America,India,Opinion,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:27 am

parli.jpg

(Indian Parliament, src: Wikipedia Commons)

A long time ago back in high school, when I was probably in my 9th or 10th grade, we had an essay writing competition on ’50 years of Indian independence’, which I took part in. Having been abroad for a lot of my childhood, I did not harbor as much patriotism for my country back then as most of my friends, and was often very critical of India, often annoyingly so. Anyway, I remember writing in that essay that the Indian government really meant nothing to me, and that I felt no patriotism towards a country that was corrupt and sustained societies filled with stone-age customs like the caste system and dowry. 50 years since gaining independence, I argued, we have nothing much to be proud of.

To say the least, my essay was controversial :-P and I really thought that I would be summoned by the vice principal… in fact, my English teacher even told me that this very summoning was going to happen pretty soon. Word went out far and wide and I was asked about it by a friend in church that Sunday (who wasn’t even studying in my school anymore, but heard of it through his sister’s friend!). There were thinly veiled comments at me all through that week during English class, and I was quite nervous about the whole thing, quite frankly.

Luckily for me, nothing much happened and the incident was slowly forgotten by everyone… whew!

The reason I remembered this a few days ago was because one of my good friends from school who recently saw this site was shocked that I was following politics so closely… You see, I have always been quite apathetic towards politics, and to me, it was always a dirty ‘word’ , and a dirty ‘world’ as well. I blame Indian politicians for this, for the crores worth of scandals they were involved in at the time made me hate the system so much that I was just left with nothing more than apathy for my country.

It is true that American politics is relatively ‘cleaner’ than Indian politics, but in concept, both are much the same. It is still ‘politics as usual’. If Indians have bribes, the Americans have lobbies. If Indians are bogged down by caste politics, the Americans are bogged down by race politics. So what has really changed, and why have I stopped ‘not giving a damn’ about politics any more? Some might say it’s all a part of growing up, but that is actually a very broad answer… there is something a lot more specific than that. Well, the answer is simple:

It lies in another dirty word, called Taxes.

When we were back in school, it was ‘them’ against ‘us’. But now that we are earning, it is ‘them with our money‘ against ‘us’. Reading the Fountainhead has all the more increased my awareness of what is really going on, and seeing things from an individualistic point of view, I am forced to ask myself – what do I gain by giving a portion of my wealth to society through taxes? I will get back to this at the very end.

Universal health care is a system where the government helps reduce the costs of health care… those of you in the United States will know how exorbitantly priced a visit to a doctor is, or the cost of a simple X-ray or test. The following is a diagram of countries attempting Universal Health Care. Please enlarge this and spend at least 2 minutes looking at the countries and the description on the bottom-left corner of the image before you continue:

worldhealth2.png

(src: Wikipedia commons)

If the above diagram is to be believed, and I hope it is, for the editors would have surely been careful on such an important topic, then there are two very interesting observations to be made:

  • The US is the only developed country with no universal health care in place
  • Iraq and Afghanistan have universal health care paid for by the US war budget

So what does this mean to every person currently employed in the United States, myself included? It simply means that I will:

  • Pay for the bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Pay for the injuries of the Iraqi and Afghani civilians
  • but I will be left fending for myself if I get hurt here in the USA !

.

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And that, my friends, is why I follow politics… to be aware of how my money is being spent – not my country’s money, not my government’s money, not my parents’ money – but mine. To know who is out there to rip me off, and who is out there with policies that benefit me and the people I care about. It really can’t get any more selfish than that – to hope that the money you worked so hard to earn benefits you in the best way possible. After all, we expect ‘value for money’ in every product we buy and every service we pay for – There is no reason that we should expect any less from our government.

[ Please read the amazing collection of ‘Where your taxes go‘ articles by Amit Verma from the India Uncut blog to see how else your money is being spent, if you are in India. This one was particularly alarming ]

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