Sunday, October 30, 2005

I was delighted to come across I Love Chennai yesterday. Applause for such a great idea!

Call it conservative,
Complain about its weather,
Brand its people Madrasis,
Mock the Tamil strains in its English,
Say whatever you want to say.

Chennai is our home and we love its spirit!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Gina Trapani's Writer, Saint and Sinner - her interview with Zadie Smith and their discussion on writing as a selfless/selfish process.

Jessa Crispin offers tips for men who buys books to look smart (via Bookslut.)

Dante - the man 'who goes down to hell as he likes.'

Thursday, October 27, 2005


ChennaiHelp is trying to track and consolidate news and information related to the unusually harsh rains and the impending cyclone in Chennai. If you have any useful information on the subject, do send me an email or post a comment. Thanks.

Chennai Rains:update

Update from Sun News - 3pm bulletin:
=> Cyclone expected to hit the Chennai-Ongole stretch tomorrow (Oct 28) morning.
=> Heavy / very heavy rains with heavy winds expected for the next 24-48 hours
=> 66 dead so far in Chennai
=> All schools and colleges closed
=> Since this morning, 23cm of rain has been recorded in the city
=> Low lying areas like West Mambalam, Purasawalkam, parts of Mogappair & Anna Nagar, Velachery completely flooded as water enters homes and other buildings
=> Chennai Airport runway flooded and many international and domestic flights have been routed to Bangalore
=> Guindy Kathipara junction flooded - a minimum wait of two hours to cross over from the Airport to Guindy
=> Railways cancels a number of outbound long-distance trains. Helplines are: 25383783/84/85
=> Chennai Corporation Helplines are: 25381330, 25383783, 25384670

Other parts of Tamil Nadu:
=> Landslide in Tiruvannamalai. Several villages cut off.
=> Tiruchirapalli still recovering from floods - roadway cut off.
=> Mettur Dam overflowing but inbound water has slowed down since morning.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How well do you know the Dickens adaptations?

The Dracula connection still haunts beautiful Transylvania.

Dick Hardt & Identity 2.0

This presentation by Dick Hardt at OSCON 2005 a few months ago is simply fabulous. The style is so catchy, the slides are simple but effective and Dick's fast sentences make one focus hard. He credits the style of presentation to Lawrence Lessig. Identity 2.0 seems like a great concept as well.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What is an atheist?

Lost parts of Ayn Rand's Playboy interview 40 years ago.

Forever beta. I couldn't agree more.

Anil Dash on the new built-to-flip companies aka Web Bubble 2.0

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Flickr sudoku is the next crazy idea (via Anarchaia)

Everyone who has read The Argumentative Indian so far finds a lot of good things to say about the book. I have my copy ready on the nightstand and I skimmed through the essays briefly. It looks very very interesting. This is one book I am waiting to get started on once I am done with this.

The language of causation takes a shot at the usage of the word 'cause' and recommends dropping the word from our vocabularies.

TEV has managed to sneak in Banville's essay on winning the Booker.

Do authors really need to add faces to their books? (via Bookslut)

Why do we believe in God? (via kottke). Nothing more to be said. The argument continues.

We will soon have a thriller series by author Benjamin Black (it is Banville's new pseudonym)

Friday, October 21, 2005

The odd God made them all

This is where it all started. Atleast today, that was where it started (don't miss the comments section.) The wily mind's urge to dissect, categorize, paste the label and file it away as done. Alas! dicey subject mate. God is one of the most debated ideas. And we shall be refuting each other with examples that cannot stand against multiple solid perspectives. Having said that, it is always interesting to discuss the idea of God because there are as many interpretations of the entity as there are people on this planet.

It makes sense to talk about my personal opinion here because that is the only one I know for sure. The opinions of others can, at best, be catalysts. But I have to put my own head on the grindstone and further my ideas over time. Chandrachoodan asked me some good questions at the place where it all started and here is what I said

C>>What do you think is God?
Echo: My opinion has been evolving and will continue to do so. At the moment, I think that God is the highest potential energy state that can be reached. Every man has the inherent capacity to get to that state.

C>>If you don’t try reason and logic to find god, how else would you?
Echo:I have been applying reason and logic all along and it has been frustrating to discover that I just go around in circles with no convincing pointers forward. Therefore, I have been thinking that there must be other ways of understanding that do not necessarily stop with cold logic. Logic says if it is not black then it must be white; if it is not love then it must be hate. Where do we fit in entities like ‘gray’ and ‘indifference’ then? Logic is a useful tool, but it cannot be the only instrument used to arrive at rock solid conclusions.

C>>What would you discover and how will you understand whatever you found?
Echo:Ah. Now this is a tough one to answer. I have no clue what I would discover but I do know that when I question something, I must be open to finding answers that I may not really like.

C>>The prime number example:
Echo: Logic works beautifully in a number of examples but does it mean that Logic can answer everything? A knife can be used to cut some things but in other cases a scissor is simply a better tool. In short, Logic is necessary but not sufficient.

I said all this because I genuinely believe that the existence of God is a matter that can be concluded only on the basis of personal experience. 'Does God exist?' can be answered using either a 'Yes' or a 'No' depending upon how the mind of the person (answering the question) works. Take my case: I believe that every new person I meet is genuine and good unless I confirm otherwise. There might be someone else who believes that every new person she meets is cunning and manipulative unless she confirms otherwise. Both of us are right because we are open to the idea that we may have to confirm otherwise. Likewise God can exist and not exist in the minds of people depending upon how they choose to approach the subject. What is totally irritating is the way average discussions about God and his existence degrade into ego matches where defending one's shaky opinion becomes far more important than acceptance of a better opinion.

I see various opinions as rungs on a ladder, serving for a short interval until the climber puts another foot forward. But hey, is the ladder on the right wall? So, tell me, what would your answers be to Chandroo's questions?

Some important things to note:

  1. I would love to hear from you. That is why this post is up with the comments sections open. However, you are expected to articulate your opinion without being offensive. I shall not tolerate impolite people here. Period.
  2. If you are contradicting another person's opinion, please substantiate your argument. Simply calling someone wrong does not further open discussion.
  3. This post is just a prelude to a more detailed discussion on the subject. If there are enough open-minded takers that is.
  4. If you decide not to comment, I am going to conclude that you agree with me. Ah, the bliss of simple logic! :)
  5. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's only words

This article on legal offshoring calls it the Papadam chase - aargh!

Vuja De as Deja Vu's antonym. Hmm...

Godwottery had me in splits because it reminded me of the most affected speaker I know. And hey, no scutching while creating your own godwottery!

Neat list of made up words in The Simpsons (via kottke). Buh.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Shreve is back with A Wedding in December

How well can you really know a person? she asked in 1999.

Over the years, Anita Shreve has been exploring various emotional themes in each of her novels. She is a writer who can cut across the shallow frivolity of scented candlelights (yes you may pick on 'the shallow frivolity of scented candlelights' and blow it into an 'Echo makes an anti-romance statement' and sue me - we have had so much of practice recently, have we not?) and touch the depth of emotion hidden in the most ordinary happenings.

Shreve's new book A Wedding in December, out a short while ago, seems promising. The story of a reunion of seven classmates from prep school, it appears to explore the themes of regret and vulnerability. Though the plot and setting appear to be commonplace, I am sure Shreve will have some direct and uncomfortable questions to ask about the 'inward dramas' in each of the characters' lives.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This is something I would love as a gift (thanks for the pointer!). Actually, I wouldn't mind the entire collection either!

Tonkin attacks the Booker 2005 choice

In a much read article, Boyd Tonkin launches a vicious attack on Banville and does not spare John Sutherland either.
By choosing John Banville's The Sea, they selected an icy and over-controlled exercise in coterie aestheticism ahead of a shortlist, and a long list, packed with a plenitude of riches and delights.
The Dublin novelist, whose emotional rage is limited and whose prose exhibits all the chilly perfection of a waxwork model, must today count himself as the luckiest writer on the planet. This was a travesty of a result from a travesty of a judging process.
Incomprehensibly the jury ignored all these excellent and variously admirable novels. Instead they plumped for Banville's glacial evocation of Max Morden's return to an Irish seaside town where, long ago, the grace of a seductive family had struck and shaped his life. This is undoubtedly "beautiful'' prose, but it is lifeless, pallid work that plays predictable variations on themes of memory and identity in a style that may impress but can seldom engage (italics mine).

Frankly, I had to agree with Tonkin's last lines about Banville's style. It impresses more than it engages. But the question of whether the prize should go to a better stylist or a better heart-warmer can be answered only subjectively.

Recap of the controversial 1999 Sutherland-Tonkin panel
The Booker is always controversial. At the start of this year's race, judge John Sutherland (professor of modern English literature at University College London) provoked the most comment by writing newspaper columns complaining about how little he was being paid for his time and the amount of reading he was being forced to do. His championing of Salman Rushdie also raised eyebrows, particularly when a review he wrote of Rushdie's novel "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" sported the headline "The 1999 Booker Winner."

Another judge, the Independent's literary editor, Boyd Tonkin, ended up causing much more of a stir, however, when he announced his surprise that one of the books he most enjoyed this year, Harold Jacobson's "The Mighty Walzer," had not been submitted for the prize. As each publisher is only allowed to submit two books, the choice of titles entered is always a contentious issue, and Jacobson's editor, Dan Franklin, announced his outrage at Tonkin revealing a decision that is supposed
to be secret. The two men made up after Monday night's ceremony, and were seen shaking hands. (Backstage at the Booker, Salon Books)

Army for Serenity in Kashmir

Despite the earth shaking, the encounters in this part of the world have not stopped. Since 1990, 18658 terrorists have been killed by the Indian security forces and several rehabilitation measures have been undertaken by the Indian Army to restore some semblance of normalcy and inspire confidence in the natives. Yet, Kashmir is still a queen in distress. The Indian Army is using the new medium for epidemics to spread awareness.

The About page says:
The website has been designed and launched with a purpose to increase the public awareness, in India and abroad, about how the Indian Army is tackling the menace of terrorism.
This website lets you have a detailed look at the various factors, statistics and truth that govern the lives of the Kashmiries, the Army and the cross-border infiltrators. From the humanitarian efforts of the Indian Army in everyday life to the destructive and barbaric activities of the fundamentalist forces, the website presents you a fair picture of the valley in front of the world.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Banville wins the Booker!

Second time lucky for Banville as The Sea is chosen the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2005. I am glad that this means a lot more people will read Banville.

Needless to say, Mark Sarvas is ecstatic. I am jumping for joy myself after being part of the Banville rooting minority.

Earlier Banville stuff here, there, a little bit everywhere.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Girl tracking parents in a previous birth. Huh? (via Vimal)

Gladwell's very very well-written article in the New Yorker on the social logic of Ivy League admissions (via Freakonomics)

Sir David Frost will be presenting a live weekly current affairs show on al-Jazeera next spring.

Tagging Tips from influential bookmarkers.

I enjoyed a bunch of good portraits & other pictures of Nandita Das.

And I am still in my cave reading a motley collection of books.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wake up WriMo

NaNoWriMo is back in action. Barely a month left for November's crazy novel writing schedule and the WriMo site is allowing new users to register and old ones to activate accounts. The forums are up as well.