Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Say cheese Harry

The HP publishers have released a few pics of the cover art of DH. These are posted below with the mandatory obsessive detailed discussion.

UK Children's version

This pic is very strange. Firstly are the three friends being sucked into the hole or thrown out? Their poses are not clear. Is the hole the deathly hallow? Is that Dobby clutching onto Harry's back? Is he holding Gryffindor's sword? Questions Questions....

US Children's version

The first (and last?) time, he-who-must-not-be-named becomes he-who-appears-on-the-cover. Again strange pic. Are both Harry and Voldemort (I am not afraid to speak his name) trying to catch something? Or has Harry released something that Voldemort is trying to catch? Who are the people in the background? What place is this? Is that Slytherin's locket around Harry's neck?

And the last pic....this isn't that intriguing but you get a nice look at Slytherin's locket... or at least I assume so. There is no snake involved in the pic. Plus a pic of JKR.

UK Adult version

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bollywood Dhamaka

I saw three hindi movies in the past 10 days....there I said it. That's the highest concentration of film-dose I have had in my life (including my time in India). The movies in question, Dhoom 2, Bhagam Bhag and Salaam-e-ishq were quite ok actually. The reason for the sudden spurt in Hindi movie viewing is that now I have company watching the movies. To be truthful, I wasn't sure about watching S-e-I...I was worried it might be a typical Chopra/Johar/Barjatya cheesy, u get fat just watching it. But it wasn't...To be sure, I was afraid, that when Vidya Balan had her second accident she would miraculously regain her memory. But thankfully nothing of the sort happened. One complaint I have with desi film-makers is the proliferation of "Hip-Hop" music in the songs (note the quote-marks). It's irritating and sometimes outright revolting. Just make good desi music why don't they.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Universal Hate

While surfing the web, I came across this piece of news. It is about a student at Gatech who sued the University for restricting her right to free speech. To quote the article,

Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

Now different people may react to this news in different ways. But since my first reaction to this was, 'What the c#$% !!!! I never knew I had so much religious freedom!!!!', I have decided to explore how this allows me and others to further our religious beliefs.

1.) Since religion itself is a very ill-defined term, Nazi's can claim that their religion compels them to protest against the equal treatment of non-Aryans.

2.) Some people could claim that their religion compels them to protest against equal education and employment rights due to women. (This incidentally, would be highly detrimental to the girl in the above news item.)

3.) Muslims could claim that their religion compels them to protest against the existence of kaafirs.

4.) Hindus could claim that their religion compels them to divide people into castes and discriminate against them.

5.) Proponents of Intelligent Design could claim that their beliefs compel them to protest against science.

I can only shudder at the thought of all the fun we could have if the said girl wins her case. Since any belief system can be defined as a religion and everyone has freedom to hate SOMEONE, we can all have a field day protesting the existence of some group of people. Then finally, the human race can have an activity that keeps all of them busy and out of harm's way.

Monday, April 10, 2006

To go or not to go

Many months ago, I had written a post about reservations in India. Then, some quarters in Indian politics had demanded that reservations be implemented in private industry. That proposal, thankfully, somehow fizzled out. Now, the new attack on India being launched by the Indian government has taken the form of a 22.5% increase in reservations in institutions like the IITs and AIIMS. This will ofcourse reduce the number of seats available to people who deserve them...the solution? Increase total number of seats!!!!

So what has the title of this post got to do with all this you might ask. Well, I wanted to connect this with a couple of Parth's old posts, the n+5 theorem and Kya ab laut chalen. I for one have lost a lot of enthu about going back to India. As one who has seen the wrong end of the reservation stick, I think this is the limit. As it is, state governments go to ridiculous lengths with this reservation thing. In Maharashtra, the percentages are 50% Backward castes + 30% Women. This means that if you are a general category male, you should be as far away from Maharashtra as possible. I have already commented on how reservations are harming the country in the same way that oppression of backward castes had done. But if u have a family in India, imagine the horror of having to explain to your son why his schoolmate, who scored half the marks he did, has gotten admission to the best college in the city while he has to make do with the second best. I had reacted to this frustration by screaming, "Why aren't we SC/STs?". My dad had scolded me for saying such a thing and had explained to me that I should have studied harder. I am pretty sure it was quite hard on him to say all that. I don't wish to go through that experience. My inclination to return to India just took a 22.5% dip thanks to Arjun Singh.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The West's Last Chance???

Just finished reading the book "The West's Last Chance: Will we win the Clash of Civilizations" by Tony Blankley, the editorial page editor of the Washington Times. The book is funny in parts but mostly, it scared me a lot. It represents all that is wrong with the way the US has conducted it's Middle East and Muslim policy.

The author compares, the current 'Struggle against Extremism' being waged by the US to the war they fought against Nazism. He points out, how at the time, the US government imposed serious restrictions on the right to information, free speech and other fundamental rights of Americans and how they were accepted, even supported by the public as temporary war measures. He argues that the current administration should act in the same way since it too is at war. What is surprising is that in one breath the author points out the differences between WW2 and the current one and then immediately proposes that the US apply the methods and tactics of the former to the later. Not only does this have the potential to backfire very badly on the US, it might even prove fatal to the struggle they are waging.

Another advice of the author is that Europe has weakened because it has lost touch with it's religious heritage, i.e. Christianity. So the Vatican should redouble it's evangelizing efforts and try to 'restrict' Islam to the desert. He even agrees with the Pope's opposition to the entry of Turkey into EU on the basis that it is a Muslim country. The only problem with this argument is, why stop at Christianity? Europe has a much grander Roman and Greek religious heritage. Indeed it could be argued with some merit, that under the stewardship of these two civilizations, Europe made greater cultural and scientific progress than under Christianity, which imprisoned Galileo for heresy and which even today tries to control and tailor scientific progress to religious doctrine (with lesser success, Thank God). So why not rediscover Roman culture and religion? They even have the advantage of hindsight. Now they know the mistakes the Romans committed. They can consciously avoid them.

A big mistake the author has made is to try to lighten the serious mood of the book using some comedy. Here is a very funny paragraph he wrote. "It is true that America .... acted promptly after 9/11. The United States, under President Bush's admirable leadership, swiftly removed the Taliban from Afghanistan, overturned Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, induced the government of Pakistan to switch most of it's loyalties from the terrorists to the West, and reversed a half century of American policy that supported dictators and kings in the Middle East." Very Funny. But try to keep this away from the poor soldiers who are actually fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would be just cruel to them. Plus the author needs a reality check. The US took several weeks after 9/11 to invade the Afghans. Then too it tried to get the warlords to do their dirty work for them. And if the Taliban have been removed from Afghanistan, how come Hamid Karzai is little more than the Mayor of Kabul and why are US troops still dying there. As for Saddam, his ouster has nothing to do with 9/11. The US's own intelligence agencies had said that Saddam was a secular, who saw these Islamic fundamentalists as a threat and not friends. If Pakistan's government has switched loyalties, then why is the top leadership of the Al-Qaeda still free and why are Taliban fighters freely roaming the streets of Pakistan and carrying out their attacks against the US? As for Middle East dictators....they are still there! Four years after 9/11. That should have been enough time for the new policy to show some effect!

The problems the US and Europe is facing right now are of their own making. We all know that the Middle East political map and the Israel-Palestine problem has it's roots in the tendency of European imperialist powers to divide out the land according to their convenience and political expediency. US's foreign policy mantra is 'The ends justify the means'. If these people wish to contain the monsters they have released, they should take a cold hard look at themselves and their actions to date.

Of course, it's not all the US's fault. I agree that Muslims need to deshackle themselves from the influence of mullahs and qazis. These religious figures claim for themselves the exclusive right to understand and interpret the Prophet's words. Much as the church claims for itself the exclusive right to interpret the Bible and know God's will. As a Hindu, I can look back at my own past and compare these mullahs to the brahmins who restricted religious knowledge to themselves and claimed to be the sole channel to God. I can truthfully say, it didn't work out too well for us. Muslims and Christians should learn something from our experience and reduce their dependence on self-proclaimed religious leaders.

Now that I come to think of it, it's funny how without exceptions religious leaders are always self-proclaimed. We should try to bring democracy in religion. A person who wishes to be a brahmin/qazi/priest should first study and pass exams testing his knowledge of the relevant religious texts and then stand for election against other contenders in the temple/mosque/church that he wishes to preside on. An elected religious leader can hold that position for 4/5 yrs and then has to stand for re-election. That would be totally awesome. I am gonna write another blog on this one soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Inscrutable Indians

Parth recently published a very funny blog about an incident involving a new desi guy in the US. I had suggested we start a list of such experiences. Maybe we could publish them as a book. :-) So here is a list of funny things that happened to me and some acquaintances in the US.

1. Crossing Over: A friend new to the US was standing at the signal waiting to cross. When the walk signal flashed on, he started to cross the road. When he reached the middle of the road, the 'hand' started flashing. The guy panicked and ran back to the end he started from. He waited for another walk signal to come on and this time he ran across the street before the hand could start flashing again.

2. McDs Woes: This is a conversation between a New Desi Guy (NDG) and a McDs Employee(ME). The NDG has ordered his meal and the ME asks:
ME: Here or To Go.
NDG: Excuse me.
ME: Here or To Go.
NDG: Excuse me.
ME: Here or To Go.
NDG: Excuse me.
ME: (Exasperated and talking slowly)Here or To Go.
NDG: (Catching only the last part)Why should I go? I am paying for the meal!

3. Dr. Bakwaas: Our Department had thrown a reception for new students and I attended. There were pizza and drinks. Sadly, I was new to the US and wanted to be adventurous. I picked a can which said Dr. Pepper on it. I think the Dept Secy noticed the expression on my face as I went to throw the can away. I don't think the dept serves Dr. Pepper at such events any more. :-)

4. Post it!!!: This is a conversation between me (AD) and a Dept Secy (DS).
AD: Can you please do me a favor? I want you to post these documents to so-and-so Professor at so-and-so address.
DS: (Confused) ummm..... So you want me to MAIL them or FAX them?

Feel free to contribute your stories either on your blogs or you can send them to me and I will add them here with the proper credits.

Monday, October 10, 2005

And then there were none

Parth dug up this historical info about our dear beloved Four and Seven Bungalows. I had no idea Dadabhai Naoroji was so closely related to the place where I live. Ironically, the news item is about how the last of the original 11 bungalows may soon be demolished.