an "a to z" of thoughts, conversations, remarks, observations,musings about

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Indian cricket team lineup - 1st March

Well heres my selection out of the 15 probables...for the first test against england.

Wasim Jaffer,
Virender Sehwag,
Rahul Dravid (capt)
Sachin Tendulkar,
VVS Laxman,
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk),
Irfan Pathan,
Piyush Chawla,
Harbhajan Singh,
Rudra Pratap Singh,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

news bulletin

Greetings this section we shall discuss the current news. Without any research, fact verification and shameless plagiarism mixed with a healthy amount of invective, lets see what the jargon in our papers that passes for news actually means.

In a speech at the Asia Society here ahead of his trip to India and Pakistan beginning March 1, Bush said New Delhi should ease caps on foreign direct investments, lower tariffs on American agricultural products and services and open up its markets.
The Bush in power, whose granpa used to supply the germans, whose daddy was in the kennedy assasianation cover up and whose mother loves the blackies, is about to visit India. Of course he has to stop by in Pakistan too otherwise they would feel offended. To prepare for this trip, a few hundred brownskinned migrant workers were rounded up and packed into a hall with the promise of free drinks and vague future benefits. Georgie talked to them to get acclimatised with the feeling of being surrounded by brownskinned people. His handlers used this opportunity to get him to rehearse his lines. He wishes that India, should let foreigners buy up stuff in India and sell their surplus food grown with the latest experimental technology to the natives. Also, India should let Americans come and sell anything they want here. Bush will also be delivering a stern lecture to the Indian leaders, about how they should deploy their nuclear facilities. Even, though the president of India is a scientist who knows this stuff inside out, and the the prime minister an economist who can talk all day about market access and floating currency, still, they arent white and so a Big White Chief can lecture to them on these subjects and make them listen.

The United Arab Emirates has granted a license to the country's first human rights organisation, the Gulf News daily reported Wednesday.
Ahh...funny we never hear about human rights abuses from that area of the world. All this time that the europeans turned their nose up at our carpets woven with nimble child fingers, no one realised that the Emirates didnt even have a human rights organisation. I guess there arent any human rights concerns when you buy oil. After all it just goes into the tank of your car. A carpet is different, you actually walk on it...and it would have been uncomfortable to realise that you were trampling underfoot thousands of knots woven by little children.

Representatives from the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels began their first direct talks in three years in Switzerland on Wednesday.
Why are the Tamils always taken to cold places to negotiate. Rather a wierd way to ensure a thaw in relations. First Oslo then Geneva. Beware O Ceylonese of these sun starved northerners, they are aiming to bewilder you by snow and before you know it you would have developed an uncontrollable addiction to cuckoo clocks, chocolates and nokia phones.

The Indian government said on Wednesday it could "not rule out the possibility" of avian influenza spreading to human beings in a village in Maharashtra
This is a lame headline, the Indian government is incapable of ruling out almost anything. They cant rule out the possibility of a man who was supposed dead in 1942 still being alive today.

A World Bank team will help the Bihar government revamp the public distribution system (PDS) to benefit the target group - the poorest segments, government sources said on Wednesday.
The world bank is going to tell the Bihar government on how to plug leakages in the food distribution system. It will be interesting to see them standing at a ration shop and trying to get a litre of kerosene. Why the World Bank is needed for this is anyones guess, but still one wishes them luck.
An Il-76 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) left here on Wednesday morning for Manila with relief material including tents, medicines, blankets and packets of pre-cooked food.
Refer story above. Wouldnt it be better for this aircraft to land in Champaran and help out our own.

It has now crossed the 50 million mark, and more interestingly moved to fourth spot on the world internet user base pushing Germany to fifth spot. According to data computed by the US-based Computer Industry Almanac Inc, (publicised by, the number of Indians who hit the internet highway stood at 50.6 million. The data from the website shows that India had a meagre 1.40 million internet users in 1998, which rose to 39.20 million in 2004. This has now shot up to 50.60 million.
50 million indians on the internet, thats 5 % of the population. So anyone reading this blog, remember you are part of a small minority of people. Prediction - there will be an increasing move on the part of the white nations to erect barriers on the internet before they get swamped by the hordes of chattering indians.

OVER SIX years after ramp model Jessica Lall was shot dead at socialite Bina Ramani’s packed Tamarind Court restaurant, a local court on Tuesday acquitted all the nine suspects — including Manu Sharma, son of former Union minister Vinod Sharma
This is the real story, hopefully someone will have watched Rang De Basanti and will find Manu Sharma. To those who forgot, this arrogant son of a Minister was sitting in a bar and wanted more to drink, the waitress refused and he pulled out a gun and shot her dead. He is now set free by the courts.

Suspended sub-inspector Daya Nayak will soon be questioned on why he had not filed his property returns, something compulsory for a government servant
Politically motivated stuff here. This was a policeman who shot the baddies. Backed by the previous government, he was part of a Mumbai police team that took no prisoners and put the fear of god into the underworld. Now they want to know why he didnt file his property returns, surely he could have found time to do that while taking on one of the most powerful criminal organisations in the world, and that too on a simple government salary.

a valentine poem i read

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

-- Carol Ann Duffy

Friday, February 17, 2006

whats it like in eye raak

They took at least a dozen men from my aunts area alone- their ages between 19 and 40. The street behind us doesn’t have a single house with a male under the age of 50- lawyers, engineers, students, ordinary laborers- all hauled away by the ‘security forces’ of the New Iraq. The only thing they share in common is the fact that they come from Sunni families (with the exception of two who I'm not sure about).

Saturday, February 11, 2006 entry in riverbend blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

the new office - set them free

I was doing some work for an outsourcing company and encountered a fairly typical problem. The company has 85% of its employees in India and 15% in US. Most of the work is done in India and the sales and coordination is done from US. There was a small process within the HR department which dealt with US hiring. There were 3 recruiters who worked in the evening shift, and recruited people living in US for projects in US. The management had not dealt with the evening shift before. Mostly the guys in US did the work in US and the guys in India did the work in India. This was the first time, that an employee based out of India was supposed to function entirely in the US market and do a job that previously would be done by a US based employee. Firstly the management slotted these people as Indian employees who just worked in the evening. That worked fine, till they realised that no one in india interacted with these employees. Lets call them the Offshore Recruiting Team or ORT. Now the ORT interacted primarily with project managers in the US, sales managers in the US and client managers in the US. They gathered requirements from them and searched online job boards like monster/dice etc ..called candidates living in the US and then arranged for interviews and finally filled up vacant positions. The senior management in India had no interaction with the ORT and didnt have much idea about what they did in their time. Even the holidays, peak hours, business environment of the ORT adhered to the US conditions rather than Indian conditions. So they started to go in for dual reporting. Now the ORT reported to the Indian head for adminstrative purposes and to the US head for business purposes. This lead to further confusion and the ORT got caught in the middle of two different work environments. Finally the situation resolved itself by evolving into a telecommuting paradigm. The management realised that it would be far simpler to treat the ORT as US employees who telecommuted from India. So the only responsibility of the Indian office was to provide them infrastructure to be able to telecommute. The most important person in India, to the ORT, now was the Infrastructure Head. They only had issues like the bandwidth being down, the air conditioning conking out in the summer heat, the phone lines acting funny with calls being disconnected midway or incoming calls disappearing down some black hole. This is where I came in. To anyone who has worked in an outsourcing environment this would sound familiar.

I realised that even though the situation was much better than it used to be, it was still far from perfect. The telecommuting paradigm hadnt been stretched far enough. It was pseudo telecommuting, not real telecommuting and there was a potential bottleneck built into the system. The potential bottleneck was the Infrastructure head. If for some reason, the fat pipe connecting our office to the world wide web started to go wonky, then the entire ORT would be like a person cut off without oxygen. Try as hard as you can, if your pipe, which is your only medium connecting you to your workplace, constricts then it directly impinges on the effectiveness of the organisation. So the pipe was the bottleneck, just squeeze it and make it narrower, and the entire operation's productivity would decrease by the same factor.

If we had faced this situation while telecommuting from Jersey to California what would we have done. Well, firstly, we would have backups and alternative pipes. If your landline phone went kaput, you could dial that important call from your cellphone. If your internet connection went out, you could pick your laptop and go to a nearby wi fi or have another ISP account as a backup.

The solution was very simple and very neat. The ORT was provided with laptops. These laptops had a wireless cellular access card. This meant that they automatically would receive the internet wherever there was a cellphone signal, which in this day and age means almost everywhere. The laptops were fitted out with wireless headsets running on bluetooth.Then after comparing a few different services, we settled on skype. Skype ( ) offers two services. One is the incoming call facility. This means if you purchase a Phone Number from Skype, for a flat fee you get a US number which u can choose, and if anyone calls that number, the call comes to your desktop Skype application and you can pickup the call and talk using the headset and there is a voicemail facility built in. The second service is the outbound call feature. If you purchase credits from skype, you can make calls to anywhere in the world using those credits and the charge for a US call was 2 cents a minute which seemed pretty reasonable.

So now the ORT had an alternative pipe built into their work machine. They could plonk the laptops down on their office desks, attach a lan wire and use their desk voip phones and work as they used to. But in case of any problems, they had an alternative system built in, which was fully independent of any other system.

The benefits of this arrangement started to show up soon. The ORT started to take work home, since it was in their laptops anyway. They were able to check their voicemail anytime they wished and even respond when out of office and on weekends. The cellular ISP provided a roaming service, so one enterprising ORT member took a weeks vacation driving from one town in rajasthan to the other in the day and working during the evening using the laptop. It made the team more plugged into the work cycle and the feeling of being a call centre worker who worked a 8 hr shift in a cubicle was lessened. They started to show greater involvement in business discussions and started to drive things. There was some misuse, but regular review of ISP logs, Skype logs and maintainence backups on the laptop kept things well in line.

The best part about this was that the ORT used to travel by a company cab to work and back. The average commute time was one hour. With business growing fast, and cash incentives in place for better performance, the ORT soon was utilising the commute time for work. The cab driver became our biggest fan. The sight of his passengers engrossed in clicking away on their laptops instead of being half asleep or gossiping was fascinating to him. We are trying to convince him to invest in a similar system for himself so he can utilise the waiting times to surf the net, talk to people all over the world and educate himself..... will update on how that effort goes...

new pics from iraq

new pictures of abu ghraib

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Iran is going to get bombed because the US doesnt trust it.

Washington: The White House has said that the difference between the nuclear programmes of Iran and Brazil was the "trust" they elicited from the international community. "I think a difference here that I would point out -- if you're talking about Brazil versus Iran -- is one of trust," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters on Monday.

"Iran has shown that they can't be trusted with nuclear technology because they have hidden their activities for some two decades," he added. Both Brazil and Iran have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and aspire to produce their own enriched uranium -- Brazil for its two existing reactors and a third one on the way, Iran, for its future reactors.

Both countries purport peaceful uses for weapons-grade uranium, but Washington suspects Iran is concealing a nuclear-weapons programme, which Tehran strongly denies.

"We do not believe the regime in Iran should have the ability or the technology to produce nuclear weapons," McClellan said. Iran, McClellan said, should abandon its uranium enrichment plans.

Iran recently restarted uranium enrichment work in open defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is close to deciding whether to refer the matter to the UN Security Council.

Interview with the communist leader of nepal

Varadarajan: What about the attitude of China? Some people in India argue that if India continues to take a tough stand against the king, he will turn to China for help and Beijing will benefit.

Prachanda: Earlier, we had a doubt, that perhaps China might be behind the king, that China would try and take advantage. But then we analysed the situation and came to the conclusion that China would not play this role. China's relations with India are improving and China will not want to jeopardise such a big interest by backing the Nepal more

Monday, February 13, 2006

the kinder nicer british

British Troops Beat Up Barefoot Iraqi Teens A video shown on BBC TV on February 11, 2006 shows British soldiers savagely beating and kicking unarmed Iraqi teenagers in an army compound. Officials at the Ministry of Defense are said to have investigated and established beyond doubt the authenticity of the video.

Shot secretly “for fun” as a home movie from a rooftop in Basra in southern Iraq by a corporal and shown to friends at a home base in Europe, it was given to the News of the World later by an anonymous whistle blower. The footage shows soldiers pulling four Iraqi boys in their early teens into their army base after a riot and beating them with batons, then punching and kicking them repeatedly on the body and head and between the legs. Within the space of one minute, some 42 blows are rained on the four teens whom the whistle blower said “were just kids” who did not even have on shoes.

One soldier can also be seen kicking a dead Iraqi in the face. The unidentified cameraman can be heard laughing and urging his colleagues on with vulgarities... read more

quote of the day :)

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you're not."
- Andre Gide (1869-1951)

Right to Information act 2005

The important URLs for the Right to Information Act of India.

Right to Information Act (India) - Website

RTI Portal

Right to Information Act, 2005 (in English) (in Hindi)

Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005

Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) (Amendment) Rules, 2005

Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules, 2005

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Network Neutrality

Prepared Statement of Vinton G. Cerf
Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist
Google Inc.
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Hearing on
“Network Neutrality”

February 7, 2006
Good morning Chairman Stevens, Senator Inouye, and members of the Committee. My name is Vint Cerf, and I am currently Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist with Google. You may be more familiar with me for my work over the last few decades as one of the network engineers involved in devising the software protocols that underpin the Internet.

read more

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

interview with vonnegut

excerpt -

KURT VONNEGUT: Look, I don't mean to intimidate you, but I have a master's degree in anthropology.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: I'm intimidated.

KURT VONNEGUT: From the University of Chicago-- as did Saul Bellow, incidentally. But anyway, one thing I found out was that we need extended families. We need gangs. And, of course, if they're tribes and clans and so forth have been dispersed by the industrial revolution by people looking for work wherever they can find it. And a nuclear family, a man, a woman and kids and a dog and cat is no survival scheme at all. Horribly vulnerable.

So yes, I tell people to formulate a little gang. And, you know, you love each other

read more

Monday, February 06, 2006

wi fi ...wireless network

been trying to install a netgear wireless router at home. there is a neat cute white netgear box sitting there..with a huge festering clump of cables behind it. The amount of wires needed to make a house wireless is truly astounding. The installation CD is in german, the product is made in china and says "designed in california", and the internet provider is a wierd local ISP who are somehow never around when we need them the most. The electricity is playing havoc with all schedules and this supposedly upmarket tony neighbourhood where I live has powercuts randomly ranging upto 3 - 4 hours. Amidst this, continues our titanic struggle to install Wi Fi. To add to this confusion, theres a prancing puppy in the room, as i try to figure out which wire goes where.

Anyone who can help is requested to comment.

a day later after I wrote the above...i arose from my bed refreshed, I smelt the coffee...i tickled the dog..i read the newpaper...i fired up the internet and read all about the wifi routers...and i sat down with a cigarette...and with some inspired guesswork ...i picked my way slowly and steadily through the clump of wires and protocols..and less than half an hour later...everything was humming along nicely and the wifi router was standing tall and proud and emanating its mating signal in all directions.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

having image problems are we?

"In the most expensive Turkish movie ever made, American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother. They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine gun fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those left alive to Abu Ghraib prison -- where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv."
-- from AP story on Valley of the Wolves

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

whats up in america

Americans did not hear from Bush that a new Wal-Mart just opened on Chicago's city boundary and 25,000 people applied for 325 jobs (Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 26), or that 11,000 people applied for a few Wal-Mart jobs in Oakland, California. Obviously, employment is far from full.

read full article

bhutan - the land of the blue mountains

Its a funny place, Bhutan. There is a timelessness about the land. Hundreds of years ago, this place would still have looked like it does today. The Bhutanese were either a very paranoid race or just plain fond of mountaintops. There is a certain pattern to the big monasteries that one sees there. One simple design priniciple seems to be that you pick a small mountain with big mountains around it. Then you build a fat stone building on the top of the small mountain and settle down cosily knowing that any unexpected guests would be seen miles away and would be rather tired after climbing up and down the mountainside. They valued their privacy and their solitude those monks and they built their Dzongs to ensure that. After making a building like this, i guess you dont need to ask people to call before dropping in.

I used to call my trips to Bhutan, " a walk in the clouds ". Probably because the movie of the same name was rather nicely done and very romantic and my initial trips to bhutan were inspired by a rather pretty girl who lived there. I didnt get anywhere with her, but Bhutan got to me. I had grown up close to the nepal border, and had always loved the himalayas, but Bhutan turned out to be special. The clouds trailing wispily across the mountain roads, the unspoilt green mountain forests, the cheerful faces, and the hundreds of archery and dart games going on all over the country...all of this was somehow special. Red chillis drying on roofs, steaming hot bowls of noodles at small eating places by the road, neatly dressed naughty children on their way to school..these contrast vividly with the solemn stillness of the old buildings...and create an effect like no other.

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